Pro Day Tracker (cont.)
Just about all the Miami Hurricanes who participated stood on their numbers from Indianapolis at today's pro-day, though many looked solid in position drills.
Receiver Leonard Hankerson, who ran a better-than-expected 40 time at the combine, looked good running routes. Hankerson was quick and fluid into breaks and smooth in his movements. He struggled with catching the ball. Hankerson was working with a brand new quarterback brought in for the pro day. Nevertheless, he has moved into the draft's initial 40 selections and has a workout scheduled with the Kansas City Chiefs in the beginning of April.
Running back Damien Berry ran the 40 as low a 4.47. He looked solid in position drills -- catching the ball well and showing a nice amount of quickness. The same can be said for Graig Cooper, who seems recovered from his knee surgery of just over a year ago. Many raved how quick and fluid Cooper was in drills as well as his hands.
Brandon Harris looked terrific in cornerback drills and has established himself as a player who will quickly come off the board in Round 2.
Underrated Ryan Hill, who started over Demarcus Van Dyke at one cornerback position for most of 2010, ran as low as 4.52 in the 40 and turned in a short shuttle time of 3.76. His play and workout may help Hill sneak into the last round.
Tight end Richard Gordon, who measured 6-3˝, weighed 267 and ran a 4.65 seconds during the first, abbreviated Hurricanes pro day, got under 4.6 on a few watches today. During drills, Gordon was described as stiff and mechanical. The big prospect has always been labeled a better athlete than football player and he did nothing to discourage that belief.
The week concludes with a light pro-day schedule as the Miami Hurricanes take to the field after typhoon-like rains forced cancellation of their original workout two weeks ago.
The buzz continues to build around Boise State backup quarterback Mike Coughlin, who wowed scouts Thursday. One anonymous former Bronco, who played with Coughlin at Boise State and is now on an NFL roster, was not surprised by the events. He said Coughlin always showed the physical skills in practice and in his opinion the program would have done just as well with Coughlin under center as it has done with Kellen Moore. The quarterback-needy Seattle Seahawks have already scheduled a workout with the former Boise State backup.
In a draft that's bursting at the seams with talented defensive linemen, someone will inevitably slip through the cracks. South Florida prospect Terrell McClain wanted to make sure he would not be the one and gave scouts something to think about after his pro-day performance. Thirty teams showed up for Thursday's workout, including the Chicago Bears brain trust (general manager Jerry Angelo, head coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli) and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
McClain, who tipped the scales at 297 at the combine, ran his 40 in the low 4.8s, an improvement of about .15 from Indianapolis. His work in position drills was outstanding. McClain was smooth in all his movements and showed a violent hand punch during bag drills. His workout today and performances at the combine and during Shrine week could seal McClain as a top 60 selection.
Several draft sleepers left a positive impression on scouts:
Middle Tennessee State defender Jamari Lattimore turned a few heads and answered questions about his speed. Lattimore, who posted 15 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks as a senior turned in a solid workout in 48-degree weather. He measured 6 feet, 2.5 inches and 235 pounds, posted 40 times which clocked between 4.68 to 4.71 seconds and ran the three cone in 7.04 seconds. The latter mark would put him in the top half dozen results of all the outside linebackers at the combine. Lattimore looked solid in position drills and could now get consideration in the late rounds.
Five teams traveled to New Mexico pro day primarily to watch offensive tackle Byron Bell. The massive lineman measured 6-5 and 339 pounds. He posted a solid mark of 30.5 inches in the vertical jump and ran the 40 in the mid-to-upper 5.3s. Bell, who was denied an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA after missing all but one game as a freshman due to injury, is considered a developmental prospect by NFL teams and will get late-round consideration.
During the UNLV pro-day, All-conference left tackle Matt Murphy looked solid at 304 pounds and just under 6-4. He posted an impressive 33 inches in the vertical jump and completed 25 reps on the bench. During position drills Murphy was also asked to snap the ball. Most teams project him to offensive guard, though he'll also receive consideration at center.
Every once in a while a backup quarterback who rarely saw playing time on the college field impresses scouts during pro day with their physical skills. Matt Cassel, who was a career backup to Matt Leinart at USC, is the most prominent example. Today was another one of those situations.
While the Boise State offense revolves around junior quarterback Kellen Moore, it was Broncos backup Mike Coughlin who turned heads today. The senior, who threw just nine passes last season and 19 the prior year, wowed those in attendance with the ability to accurately make all the throws. His passes were delivered with speed and Coughlin rarely missed the mark. The 6-foot-4 passer has the physical skills to play at the next level and is receiving positive reviews from Boise State coach Chris Petersen. The limited film available on Coughlin will likely keep him out of the draft's seven rounds yet his performance today just about assures him an invitation to some team's camp, once they open up.
Boise State receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis looked terrific in the catching workouts. Both displayed soft hands and caught most everything thrown their direction. Young also ran terrific routes, a far cry from the combine, during which he struggled to stay on his feet. Young's official 40 time was 4.41, which should move him back into the draft's initial 45 selections.
Safety Jeron Johnson also improved his draft stock. Johnson, who was limited at the combine with a hamstring issue, posted a short shuttle time of 3.97, which was faster than all but two safeties in Indianapolis. Scouts were pleasantly surprised with his ball skills and defensive back fundamentals during the workout. He caught everything thrown to him in ball drills. Several teams left the workout feeling Johnson delivered more than they expected.
Ryan Winterswyk was run through defensive line, linebacker and tight end drills. The Boise State defensive end posted nine tackles for loss as a senior yet many think his best pro position is tight end. Some are comparing him to Jason Pociask of the Dallas Cowboys.
In San Diego State, both Aztecs receivers put on a show for the scouts on hand.
DeMarco Sampson, who was unable to work out at the combine as he recovered from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, ran times between 4.38 and 4.42 in the 40, answering questions about his speed. He touched 35.5 inches in the vertical jump then looked smooth in position drills, catching every ball thrown to him.
Teammate Vincent Brown was significantly faster in the 40 than last month at the combine, timing mostly in the upper-4.5s on watches, though a few had him quicker. This will be a relief to many, as Brown, who looked exceptional catching the ball during the Senior Bowl and combine, ran a best of 4.68 in Indianapolis.
Today, receivers Titus Young of Boise State and Vincent Brown from San Diego State hope to improve on pedestrian 40 times from the combine. If they do, it will reshape the receiver board. Several lesser known prospects hope to impress scouts at New Mexico, UNLV and Middle Tennessee.
One player who won't be working out today is Colt Brennan. The former Redskins quarterback, who was initially scheduled to take part in the SDSU workout today, decided not to travel to the event in part due to our report from Monday. His plans will be put on hold until the league's labor negotiations are settled.
North Carolina State linebacker Nate Irving impressed the crowd of scouts on hand today, putting up a solid workout after not participating in any of the testing at the combine. Irving, who weighed in at 242 pounds, posted 40 times which ranged between 4.68 and 4.73 on many watches. He completed 27 reps on the bench press and posted a vertical jump of 33.5 inches. Coaches in Raleigh said Irving looked terrific in position drills, quickly moving about the field and effortlessly changing direction. The workout should move the versatile defender, who can play either inside or outside linebacker, into the middle rounds.
Underrated receiver Owen Spencer also had a solid day. He ran as fast as 4.47 in the 40, slightly better than his combine time of 4.53. Spencer, who caught passes from Elon quarterback Scott Riddle, looked very impressive during position drills. He's a late-round sleeper that could make an NFL roster as a fourth receiver.
While most of the UConn players who went to the combine stood on their marks, linebacker Lawrence Wilson did run the 40. He was timed in the 4.6-range. That's a solid mark for the senior, who tipped the scales at 229 pounds at the combine, bigger than expected.
Fullback Anthony Sherman took part in position drills and looked terrific catching the ball. Scouts in attendance think Sherman will be the first lead blocker off the board in the draft, likely in round four.
In Chattanooga, UTC defensive back Buster Skrine, who was as fast as 4.29 at the combine, did only position drills for those on hand and looked solid. His footwork, balance and movement skills were impressive. Scouts always knew Skrine was a top athlete but they now think he's starting to transition those skills onto the football field as his defensive back mechanics have significantly improved the past four months.
Almost a dozen pro days highlight Wednesday's schedule, comprised mostly of small school prospects and middle-round players. Scouts will be watching linebacker Nate Irving of North Carolina State, who did not run at the combine but is expected to workout today.
In light of the strange circumstances surrounding the workout at Georgia on Tuesday, we wondered if it was a good thing that receivers A.J. Green and Kris Durham had a sub-par quarterback in Justin Roper throw the ball during drills. We thought it was and the scouts we spoke with agreed. Considering the timing was off between quarterback and receiver and Green was forced to reach vertically or slow up in routes to catch passes, it showcased his natural receiving skills and reliable hands. It made Green work harder in many aspects to catch the ball compared to having a quarterback who was able to throw strikes all morning. Though this was expected, scouts we spoke with came away from Tuesday's pro day with a greater appreciation of Green's pass catching skills and now have Durham as a late-round target.
Twenty-five teams were in Reno to watch the pro prospects from Nevada, and the star did not disappoint. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw 38 passes and had just two poor throws. Just as he did at the Senior Bowl and during much of his combine workout, Kaepernick was on the money, hitting receivers in stride and only a few times forcing them to adjust to throws which were off the mark. It would not be a surprise for a quarterback-needy franchise to look Kaepernick's way at the beginning of round two if they are locked out from one of the top signal callers in the early selections.
Running back Vai Taua improved on many of his combine numbers, running as fast as 4.56s in the 40, almost .1 better than his mark from Indianapolis. His bench press of 24 reps was also an improvement by four lifts. By all accounts, Taua looked terrific in all his position drills afterward, displaying a lot of quickness and athleticism. Scouts were pleased with his pass-catching skills.
Tight end Virgil Green sat on his combine numbers but also caught the ball well. Defensive lineman/outside linebacker Dontay Moch had an up and down day. While he looked athletic on the field, Moch was off-balance in the bag drills.
Georgia's pro day took a strange twist when Bulldogs receivers AJ Green and Kris Durham walked onto the field with Montana quarterback Justin Roper. The problem wasn't that Roper didn't play for Georgia, it was that his hometown of Buford, Ga., is farther than 40 miles from Athens, where the workout took place, meaning scouts and NFL personnel were prohibited from watching the drills in person. Instead, they were hustled into an adjoining facility, where they watched on monitors.
That said, it was a terrific pass-catching day for Green. He was quick in all his actions and displayed the uncanny ability to explode off the line and keep his momentum going throughout the route. He quickly got into breaks and immediately positioned himself to make the reception upon exit. Green looked natural catching the ball, showing soft hands and grabbing everything that came in his direction. If there were any belief that Alabama receiver Julio Jones had grabbed the top spot on the receiver list for April's draft, Green put an end to that today.
Durham also displayed great athleticism and solidified his chance of being a later round selection. He started the day by running 4.43 in the 40 after measuring 6-5 and 217 pounds. His vertical jump was a solid 35 inches and he completed 17 reps on the bench. He too looked terrific catching the ball, making several acrobatic receptions. Durham moves toward the draft as one of the true sleepers at the receiver position, yet most in the scouting community will tell you he's a legitimate fourth receiver in the NFL.
Roper, who began his college career at Oregon, struggled with his timing, as could be expected, but did enough to warrant looks late in the draft. He has good size and enough arm strength to play in the NFL, yet needs to fine tune his mechanics.
Earlier in the workout linebackers Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble looked solid in drills, showing skill in coverage. Dent's time was slightly disappointing as most scouts had him timed at 4.79s. This will not do anything to dissuade teams from believing Dent is a two-down defender at the next level. Gamble's time was barely better at 4.78.
At Georgia's pro day, receivers A.J. Green and Kris Durham are waiting to start pass catching drills. Sources on the field say there's a question of who will throw the ball to them. As we reported Monday, only draft eligible players are allowed to partake in the workout and the only quarterback who fits that context in Athens today is former Montana signal caller Justin Roper, who hails from the state of Georgia. There is a possibility Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden could end up as the practice quarterback.
Defensive lineman/outside linebacker Justin Houston participated in position drills and looked better this morning than during his combine performance. Houston was smooth and showed good power as well as punch in the bag drills. He was very athletic and successfully completed all the defensive line drills. The story was slightly different during linebacker drills where Houston did not look comfortable. He often struggled changing direction, losing a lot of momentum dropping into coverage then simulating chasing the action in pursuit, and was often off balance. This will raise the question moving towards the draft as to which position Houston projects to in the NFL -- defensive end or outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment. We've maintained all along Houston is best placed as a speed rushing defensive end in a four-man line, similar to Brandon Graham, the first round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles one year ago.
Offensive lineman Clint Boiling continues to impress scouts and rise up boards. Boiling sat on most of his combine results but looked good in drills. He displayed better than expected footwork in pass protection and also looked powerful in run blocking drills. Boiling has been branded by many as a limited athlete, yet he's disproving this opinion. The ability to be used at several positions on the offensive line makes Boiling a valuable commodity and will push him into the draft's top 75 picks.
Two more Hawkeyes improved on combine results during Monday's pro day.
Outside linebacker Jeremiha Hunter posted 40 times in the 4.65 range and touched 34 inches in the vertical jump. That's significantly better than the Indy combine, where Hunter maxed out at 4.77 and hit 31.5 inches in the vertical after tipping scales at 239 pounds. The underrated prospect comes off a somewhat disappointing senior season after showing signs of next-level ability in 2009. This workout could vault him back into the later rounds.
Unofficially, scouts told us they had safety Tyler Sash posting a 40 time of 4.56, beating his combine mark of 4.62.
There's been no final decision, but receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos could still end up doing position drills and catching the ball for scouts. As previously reported, the former Hawkeye just tested for the teams attending his individual workout.
The Dolphins, Cardinals and Buccaneers all traveled to the private workout of former Iowa receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos. The Hawkeyes' alltime-leading wideout posted 4.50s in the 40 after measuring 200 pounds and just slightly under 6-feet tall. He touched 34.5 inches in the vertical jump and completed an impressive 21 reps on the bench press. Johnson-Koulianos just tested Monday and completed no position drills.
Results from the Iowa pro day are in and the news keeps getting better for Christian Ballard.
The versatile defensive lineman, who projects to tackle or as a two-gap end in the NFL, posted times as fast as 4.68 in the 40 today. That's faster than his combine time and Ballard tipped the scales at 286 pounds, three heavier than Indianapolis.
Ballard's marks of 7.15 in the three cone and 34-inches in the vertical jump were also personal bests for the big lineman and marked improvements over his combine results. His only dissapointing performance was 15 reps on the bench.
His teammate Adrian Clayborn also improved several marks today including his vertical jump (35.5 inches), and three cone (7.08). During the combine Clayborn posted some of the best three-cone and shuttle times of any defensive lineman in attendance.
Afterwards the Hawkeye duo participated in both defensive line and linebacker drills. Both have likely sealed themselves as first round picks.
In Texas, receiver Edmund Gates impressed the more than one dozen teams that showed up for pro day at Abilene Christian. Gates sat on his combine 40 time, which was in the mid-4.3s, but improved his broad jump (11-feet, 2-inches) while also posting a time of 6.81 in the three cone. Later Gates looked solid catching the ball for scouts and also fielded punts.
As recently as a year ago, a guy looking to get back into the NFL could piggyback on a nearby school's pro day to try to impress the scouts and head coaches in attendance. Former Cleveland Browns running back William Green had a terrific workout during Matt Ryan's pro day in 2008. Not so this year. During the labor impasse, out of a fear of union lawsuits, the NFL has told coaches to have contact with only draft-eligible guys, meaning such comebacks dreams have been put on hold.
Take Colt Brennan, a sixth-round selection of the Washington Redskins in 2008 who made headlines in November after being involved in a serious auto accident. He had circled Thursday's pro day at San Diego State as the next step in his NFL comeback. Now he'll need to be invited to a camp this summer, if there are camps.
Then there's former New Mexico State defensive back Siddeeq Shabazz, who tried to circumvent the rules last week by using a different name and listing the school he attended as Western New Mexico. For a guy who was drafted in the seventh round in 2003 by the Oakland Raiders and who spent four years in the league before joining the Calgary Stampeders, it was a move of desperation that failed. He was eventually recognized and didn't get a chance to workout.
Monday is a slow start to what should be an important week of pro days. The two big events on the schedule are Abilene Christian and Iowa. Most of the top names in both workouts are expected to rest on their combine numbers. Yet the big story today will be the workout of former Hawkeye Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.
Iowa's all-time leading receiver was dismissed from the team after an arrest on drug related charges last December, the most serious of which were dropped by prosecutors one month later. Before his arrest, Johnson-Koulianos had climbed as high as the third round on some draft boards, but the arrest changed that opinion.
His workout will not take part with his former teammates because school officials have banned him from participating in the campus pro day. Instead, scouts will travel to a gym just off campus after Iowa's workout to watch Johnson-Koulianos.