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NFL Combine: My Sleeper Is Heath "Bar" Benedict

Friday, 22 Feb 2008 | 11:07 AM ET

A favorite pastime of mine is to name my sleeper at the NBA Draft and NFL Combine, which takes place this weekend in Indianapolis. I partly do it because it's a hilarious practice.

You see, there's this whole cottage industry of people (Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Mike Mayock) who basically spend the entire year centered around the NFL Draft and then there's these players at the last minute who surface who you never heard of.

Just like Nevada high schooler Kevin Hart, who faked being recruited by Cal, it's pretty easy to get duped (By the way, today we find out Hart's coach is suing over the incident). I made fun of this practice when I was at ESPN, writing of a player that recently surfaced named Chimezie Kudu.

The article was a complete joke and had so many signs that it was fake (He was a "true" 7-foot-11, he only spoke a click language, his notification to the league was found by an intern, he practiced on a hoop with an antelope horn rim and zebra skin net, the ball was made out of fused sheep's testicles), yet so many people believed it. I was fielding calls all day. Today, "Chimezie Kudu," I'm proud to say, has 117 Google hits and made a site called "The Museum of Hoaxes."

So it's always hard to deal with these people who are all of a sudden hyped. My favorite pick this year is a guy named Heath Benedict. He's a guard who is 6-foot-5 and played his football at Division II Newberry College, a school in South Carolina that has, get this, 850 students. Despite this, Benedict apparently thinks that the support they have given him is worth the support of 1,700 students.

"I'm just so excited about this whole process, and I know the people of Newberry are behind me 200 percent," he told The State newspaper. (That's a real quote by the way.)

So despite playing Bowie State instead of Boise State and having his homecoming game against an institution called Mars Hill, Benedict is in the mix this weekend in Indianapolis and will be showing what he can do tomorrow. Word is he runs a sub-5.0, 40-yard dash, can bench "in the low 30s" in reps of 225 pounds and has scored a 31 on a practice Wonderlic. (Again, not making this up.)

If Benedict gets drafted, it will be an amazing story. He didn't really come out of nowhere. He was the No. 1 player in New Jersey, according to some pundits, when he signed on with the University of Tennessee in 2002. Things didn't quite work out there as he left and sat out a year. Then he played four years at Newberry. Not exactly a direct line to being an NFL offensive lineman, huh?

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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