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Tennessee defensive end rising fast at NFL combine

Staff Report • Feb 23, 2009 at 12:00 AM

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers is one of the most-talked about players at the NFL's Scouting Combine in Indianapolis -- and one of the fastest-rising names in the draft class.

Ayers (6-feet-3, 272 pounds) was once considered a middle-of-the-draft selection, but is now getting mentioned as a potential early-first-round selection. He is scheduled to work out before NFL scouts on Monday.

"Robert Ayers has opened my eyes," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "I think he is the fastest riser in this draft."

Ayers, after redshirting during his freshman season and playing as a reserve the next three years, was named team captain before his senior season, during which he had 15.5 tackles for losses and three sacks. That, coupled with a junior season in which he had 12 tackles for losses and four sacks, earned him invitations to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., in January and this weekend's combine.

NFL.com has Ayers ranked as the top defensive end at the combine, and Mayock says he's the 12th best player in the country.

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