Pro Day Tracker (cont.)
An exciting week of pro-day events reached its end today with just three noteworthy workouts on the schedule.
Ten teams traveled to Las Cruces, New Mexico primarily to watch cornerback Davon House workout out and the all-Conference performer did not disappoint. Scouts timed House as fast as 4.32s in the forty, significantly better than his combine mark of 4.44s. House, who struggled throughout his senior season with an injured ankle, later impressed scouts in position drills. He now has a shot to slide into the draft's initial 100 selections.
Another cornerback that sped up his time from the combine was Justin Rogers of Richmond. The versatile player, who produced as a defensive back and return specialist, stopped watches in the mid 4.3s area. His best combine mark was 4.45s. Rogers, who also impressed scouts during Shrine week, won't get past the middle of round four.
Rogers' teammate, defensive tackle Martin Parker, ran just under 4.95s, a slight improvement from his combine mark. Parker measured 6-feet, 2-inches, 303-pounds in Indianapolis.
Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and safety Jaiquawn Jarrett both stood on their combine marks at the Temple pro-day.
Scouts watched more than a dozen players workout at the Stanford pro day.
Cornerback Richard Sherman improved on his combine marks running 4.47 in the 40 (4.54 at the combine), posting a 40-inch vertical jump (38-inches at the combine) and 11-foot broad jump (10-feet, 5-inches at the combine). Afterward he was run through a battery of defensive back and wide receiver drills. Sherman slid over to cornerback in 2009 after spending his first two seasons in the program at wideout.
Defensive end/outside linebacker Tom Keiser, who was not invited to the combine, timed his 40s between 4.78 and 4.85 seconds, completed 25 reps on the bench and touched 34 inches on the vertical. The junior likely cemented himself as a late-round pick.
Defensive tackle Sione Fua and receiver Ryan Whalen both sat on their combine numbers but looked good in drills.
The surprise of the day may well have been Oklahoma transfer Chase Beeler. The all-conference center displayed terrific movement skills and impressed scouts in all the drills.
Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert had his shot today in front of NFL coaches and general managers. By all accounts, his day was a success and left teams with a lot to think about.
Gabbert looked relaxed compared to Cam Newton one week ago, and his throwing session was much more up-tempo with better pace. After primarily taking his snaps out of the shotgun formation for Mizzou, Gabbert lined up exclusively under center today and looked comfortable.
He showcased his 4.61-speed from the combine by displaying the ability to effortlessly move outside the pocket to throw on the run. His mobility was one of his best skills of the day.
Though Gabbert was high on a few throws and had receivers reaching vertically, he displayed a quick release and his passes were accurate for most of the workout. He reportedly completed 44-of-49 passes.
There were just two incomplete passes due to poorly thrown balls. The other passes that hit the turf were catchable throws dropped by the receivers. Unlike Newton, who was able to throw to his own draft-eligible receivers and running backs during the Auburn pro day, Gabbert used receivers from small colleges who he had limited experience with.
The passes Gabbert missed on seemed to be the result of the junior quarterback trying to put too much juice on the ball, in an effort to impress scouts with his arm strength.
Overall the effort was a good one, so much so that teams basing draft boards on the results of pro days should now have the name of Blaine Gabbert atop Cam Newton's.
Rounding out the Missouri pro day, several other Tigers also impressed, including Aldon Smith, who looked sensational in position drills. Really not known as a strong defender, Smith showed violent hand punch in the bag drills. Scouts think the 262-pound redshirt sophomore is an exciting prospect who will only get better as he physically matures. After today, Smith, who stood on his 40 time from the combine (4.74), looks like a top-15 choice.
Underrated center Tim Barnes, who did not play in the Senior Bowl and was not invited to the combine, also impressed. Barnes measured 6-3˝ and 300 pounds. He posted an impressive mark of 31.5 inches in the vertical and completed 26 reps on the bench. His time of 5.11 in the 40 was also solid.
Barnes looked terrific in position drills after successfully snapping the ball to Gabbert, who lined up under center. Barnes was a shotgun snapper for most of his Missouri career. Despite Barnes' limited exposure in the postseason, a number of teams consider him the best pure center in the draft. Don't be surprised if he's selected in the fifth round.
Cornerback Kevin Rutland improved a number of his marks from the combine. His 40 time of 4.46 was one-tenth better than his mark in Indianapolis, while his vertical jump of 37.5 inches was an improvement by two inches.
During Michigan pro day, linebacker Jonas Mouton showed significant improvement from his combine performance. His 40 times clocked between 4.73, one-tenth better. Mouton, who did not lift at the combine, pushed up 17 reps on the bench. By all accounts, he was fluid in drills, displaying quick feet and the ability to effortlessly move around the field.
Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling, who struggled with leg injuries all of last season and only ran the 40 once at the combine (4.43) before pulling out with a hamstring injury, did not participate in the Cavaliers pro day. He is scheduled for an April 4 workout.
It was a quick day in Morgantown, W.V., in more ways than one. The Mountaineers just finished their pro day and there were several outstanding performances.
Running back Noel Devine, who was unable to run at the combine due to a leg injury, timed 4.43 in the 40. This was a solid not spectacular time for a skill player who measured 5-feet-7˝ and 174 pounds in Indianapolis.
Defensive lineman Chris Neild looked terrific all day. He timed 5.09 in the 40, slightly improved over his average times from the combine. Neild then impressed scouts during position drills, looking fluid and smooth. With all the talent available on the defensive line in April's draft, Neild is truly one of the position's best kept secrets. He tested better than expected, plays with a blue collar mentality and has all the nuances teams want in a starting nose tackle for the NFL. Look for him to be off the board somewhere in round three.
On the other hand, safety Robert Sands continues to struggle. A slider after his combine performance, Sands looked stiff and slow today in all his drills. Despite a poor safety class, Sands will ultimately drop later in the draft than most are predicting.
It will be a busy St Patrick's Day, headlined by the Missouri event with Blaine Gabbert finally throwing for scouts. The testing for the Mizzou hopefuls starts at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time and we expect Gabbert's workout to commence a few hours later.
In Michigan, linebacker Jonas Mouton hopes to improve on his disappointing combine time in the 40. A large crowd is expected for Stanford's pro day, in part to watch junior defensive end/outside linebacker Tom Keiser, who surprisingly did not receive an invitation to the combine.
Finishing up some late odds and ends from Wednesday, Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak ran surprisingly well dropping into the mid-4.6. Receiver Torrey Smith and running back Da'Rel Scott both stood on their impressive combine marks.
Two Michigan State linebackers stood out this afternoon. All-American linebacker Greg Jones slightly improved his 40 time from Indianapolis, clocking in the low 4.7-second area on a number of watches. His best time from the combine was 4.75.
Eric Gordon, who was not invited to the combine, proved he was deserving of a spot. Gordon ran as fast as 4.58 in the 40, completed 25 reps on the bench press then touched 40.5 inches in the vertical jump and 10-feet 7-inches in the broad jump. Those last two marks were better than any turned in by the linebackers at the combine. Additional good news for Gordon was he tipped the scales at 225 pounds. There was concern the fierce defender was too small to be used at linebacker but today should quell much of that criticism. Gordon now looks like a solid late round prospect for a team which employs a 4-3 defense.
Division III receiver prospect Cecil Shorts really impressed today shaving more than 0.1 off of his 40 time from the combine during the Mount Union pro day. The record-setting receiver, who was struggling with a groin injury in Indianapolis, ran a pair of 40s in the rain which clocked 4.38/4.45. His best hand time at the combine was 4.50. Most impressive was Short's time in the first 10 yards, which was clocked at 1.48, by far faster than any receiver that ran at the combine. Scouts study the 10-yard time as it is an indicator of a receiver's ability to quickly release off the line then accelerate to full speed. Today's numbers, coupled with Shorts' practice session at the combine, could vault him into the draft's top 100 selections. Shorts will be working out with the New England Patriots in the coming days.
Finally some additional news from Penn State pro day where running back Evan Royster ran in the mid-4.5s on a number of watches. That's a significant improvement from his combine best of 4.65.
Quarterback Christian Ponder had another fine throwing session at Florida State's pro day. Ponder, who has been hampered by injuries since the middle of his junior season, is a sure good bet to be selected in the middle of round two.
Rodney Hudson sat on his combine marks but looked good in drills. The offensive guard is projected to center by most teams and could come off the board late in the second frame.
Markus White improved his combine time by .1s, timing as fast as 4.75s on several watches. The college defensive end, who tipped the scales at 266-pounds at the combine, performed only linebacker drills today. Several teams have pegged White as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Almost two dozen NFL teams showed up at Penn State and there were some solid performances by many of the unknown prospects.
Defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu, who was not invited to the combine, posted 40 times in the low-4.8s and completed 26 reps on the bench press. The performance may be good enough to push the 290-pound, one-gap lineman into the late rounds.
Offensive lineman Lou Eliades, who's still rehabbing a knee injury which ended his 2010 season after four games, completed 34 reps on the bench press. Eliades was graded as a free agent prospect entering the season and if given a clean bill of health, will surely be brought into a camp this summer once they open up.
The pro day schedule picks up steam today as a number of highly rated prospects are scheduled to workout. At Florida State, underrated defensive line/linebacker prospect Markus White hopes to improve on his disappointing performance from the combine. Star linebacker Greg Jones is another looking to quicken his forty time from Indianapolis at the Michigan State event. A large contingent of coaches is expected to travel to Illinois to watch linebacker Martez Wilson and defensive lineman Corey Liuget, both of whom are expected to stand on their combine marks and perform only position drills.
With Daniel Thomas not running at the Kansas State pro day due to persistent hamstring issues, and Jonathan Baldwin standing on his combine numbers in Pittsburgh, most of the focus today was in Gainesville where the Florida Gators worked out for NFL teams.
There were a number of solid performances starting with offensive guard Michael Pouncey. The versatile prospect looked good in drills, doing everything that scouts asked of him. He's not the athlete his Maurkice -- who was selected in the first round of last April's draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers -- is, yet he clearly sits above the rest of the pack as the top interior offensive lineman available next month.
Justin Trattou had a solid day as the Gators former defensive end ran under 4.7s in the 40-yard dash and posted a vertical jump of 34 inches. Measuring just over 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, Trattou also looked effective during the drill session where he completed both defensive line and linebacker drills. Trattou was not invited to the combine yet could slide into the late part of round seven for a 3-4 team that wants to stand him up over tackle and rush the passer.
Both Gator safeties improved their 40 marks from the combine. Ahmad Black, who was terribly slow in Indianapolis with a time in the mid 4.8's, was one-tenth of a second better today, clocking 4.74s. Will Hill also improved his mark, timing under 4.6. Both prospects had their issues in position drills looking slightly off balance changing direction and not showing the ability to drive to the action, as defensive backs in the NFL must do.
During Pittsburgh pro-day the top prospects both looked good in position drills. Baldwin ran much better routes compared to his combine workout and caught the ball well. The big-bodied pass catcher could slide into the late part of Round 1. Meanwhile Jabaal Sheard also looked good in a variety of defensive line and linebacker drills. He's unlikely to slip past the middle of round two based on his combine time (4.67s) and performance today.
Finally, Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas has scheduled April 5th at 2 p.m. as the date he'll workout for NFL teams. Hamstring issues kept Thomas out of the Senior Bowl then prevented him from participating in combine workouts. The event will take place on campus at Kansas State.
Pro days have been pushed aside by the hottest topic in the league right now -- the NFLPA reportedly asking players to boycott the draft.
Several reports Monday claimed the NFLPA was asking some of the draft's top prospects not to attended the festivities at Radio City Music Hall.
One agent who represents a top 12 prospect said he was furious with the union and stated they should not exploit the players for the benefit of the NFLPA. "Why use kids that have never been part of the union as pawns for the NFLPA?" the agent said. "This is a big moment for my player and his family. They are excited about traveling to New York and standing on the stage in front of the world once their name is announced. This is a moment in his life he will never get back."
Moreover, it's a bit ironic considering the players being asked to boycott the draft and show solidarity with the NFLPA are the same players who may have a rookie wage scale imposed on them as part of a new CBA.
"It will be an all or nothing situation," said another agent, one who says he understands why the NFLPA wants to boycott the event and why the players want to attend the draft. "You won't get some players at one event and a few at the other."
The agent speculated the NFLPA would enlist a player with the popularity of someone such as Peyton Manning to inform the top players of the necessity of not attending the draft. He also speculated it's possible the league would pay the top players to attend the event at Radio City Music Hall, an appearance fee if you will. Considering the logistics of flying players, family and friends to New York as well as housing, feeding and entertaining them, he expects a final decision to be made within two weeks.
There's a new leader in the clubhouse! Last week, we told you of the exploits of Blaine Sumner, the sleeper nose tackle from the Colorado School of Mines who completed 49 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press during his March 8 pro day. That number equaled the amount completed by Stephen Paea, who set the combine record in February. Sumner topped that mark on Monday when he completed 52 reps as a participant in the Air Force pro-day. He actually completed 55 reps, but three were disqualified by scouts in attendance. Besides being an All-Conference defensive tackle, Sumner has marks of 900 pounds in the squat and 425 in the clean. He will be tough to pass up in the late rounds.
The praise for Patrick Peterson keeps coming in after Monday's workout. The Cleveland Browns are set to privately work him out on Wednesday, while Peterson has already scheduled visits with six teams that own top-10 picks in the draft. Two more clubs are expected to fly him in before the draft.
Scouts came away from the Central Michigan pro-day impressed with the two headlining linebackers they traveled to see.
First up was Matt Berning, who was not invited to last month's combine, stating his case to be stamped as a late-round selection. The 242-pound outside linebacker posted 4.72s in the 40, touched 33 inches in the vertical jump and completed 28 reps on the bench. Those marks put Berning on top of the median, compared to the linebackers that performed at the combine. He also looked good in the position drills.
Nick Bellore ran incredibly well Monday and shaved more than 0.1 off his combine time. Bellore was mostly timed in the low 4.7s, though one watch did have the fierce run-stuffer at 4.68. This is sure to help Bellore's draft stock, as scouts were most concerned about his speed -- something they can rest easy about this evening.
Just over two dozen scouts attended LSU pro day in Baton Rouge this afternoon.
As previously noted, defensive back Patrick Peterson stood on all his combine marks but participated in position drills and by all accounts looked terrific. He was fluid, smooth and very quick. Peterson cemented himself as an early first-round pick with his performance.
Drake Nevis was another defensive prospect who impressed scouts. The defensive tackle timed as fast as 4.91 in the 40 (.05 better than his combine mark) then posted solid marks of 31 reps on the bench press and 30.5 inches in the vertical jump. Nevis did this at 298 pounds, four heavier than he tipped the scales in Indianapolis.
Receiver Terrence Toliver struggled with a hamstring injury and was unable to complete his second attempt at the 40. His first time was no better than his best combine mark (4.52) but Toliver impressed scouts by finishing the workout and displaying a lot of skill in the pass catching drills. Toliver did post a vertical jump of 33.5 inches, 1.5 better than his combine mark.
Linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, who did not run the 40 at the combine, timed 4.75 today. His drills session was solid yet did nothing to dispel the belief amongst scouts that he's a two-down, run-defending linebacker.
The second week on the pro-day schedule starts off in grand style as scouts travel to Baton Rouge to watch NFL hopefuls from LSU showcase their talents. Receiver Terrance Toliver is just one of the many players who hopes to improve on combine performances.
Top-rated defensive back Patrick Peterson, on the other hand, will stand on his numbers from Indianapolis and perform only position drills.
Peterson, who met extensively with top brass from the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night, is hovering around 219 pounds, his weight at the combine when he timed the 40 in the low-4.3 area. This has some wondering if the skilled defensive back may be a bit to big for cornerback and would be better off at safety.
Central Michigan also holds their pro day this afternoon and we'll keep an eye on underrated linebacker Matthias Berning. The German-born Berning was overshadowed by his teammate Nick Bellore, a combine participant, yet many in the scouting community feel Berning's better equipped to be a three-down defender at the next level.
There was no rest for the weary as twenty-eight franchises traveled to Tucson, Ariz., in over 80-degree temperatures to watch hopefuls from the Arizona Wildcats work out. Many of the prospects did not disappoint.
Running back Nic Grigsby was the star. Grigsby, who measured just under 6-foot and weighed 199 pounds, posted a best of 4.35 in the 40, reached 43 inches in the vertical jump and 11-2 in the broad jump. Those last two marks are better than any of the running backs who worked out at the combine, while only one ball carrier in Indianapolis bettered Grigsby's 40 result.
Fast-rising Brooks Reed sat on his combine marks, but decided to take part in both linebacker and defensive line drills. Despite the heat, Reed looked terrific and was praised numerous times by Jacksonville Jaguar defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who ran the workout. Reed has solidified himself as a Top-40 selection and it would not surprise anyone if the senior slid into the late part of Round one.
Outside linebacker Ricky Elmore improved many of his combine marks, including a 4.79 in the 40 and 34-5 in the vertical jump.
Center Colin Baxter, who underwent knee surgery last December to repair a damaged meniscus, surprised scouts by taking part in the workout. Baxter, who iss not yet up to full speed, looked solid in all drills. One of the more underrated players at his position, he already has private visits scheduled with three teams. Baxter plans on working out for scouts again on April 8.
In Moscow, Idaho, a late-starting pro-day finally finished in the early evening hours as several Vandals took to the field and impressed scouts.
Tight end Daniel Hardy, who was unable to workout at the combine due to a hamstring injury, posted 40 times as fast as 4.69s, a solid number for the 250-pounder. Hardy is one of the better pass-catching tight ends and his time will reassure coaches who want to use him as a vertical threat at the position.
Safety Shiloh Keo was markedly better today, compared to his marks in Indianapolis and posted a time of 4.64. This represents and improvement of .1 from his best hand time at the combine. Considered one of the more fundamentally sound safety's in the draft, Keo will now receive consideration as a Top-100 selection in the draft.
Twenty nine of the league's 32 teams showed up in Columbus, Ohio, and watched a number of Buckeyes improve their numbers from the combine. As reported earlier, receiver Dane Sanzenbacher timed under 4.5s, officially clocking a 4.48. It was a number which relieved the sure handed receiver, who now looks like a solid pick in the late rounds.
Linebacker Brian Rolle timed 4.51 seconds, 0.1 faster than his combine mark. The 5-9˝, 225-pound Rolle was then asked by scouts to run through a battery of defensive back drills, something he had not specifically trained for. Rolle accepted the challenge and, by most acounts, did a solid job.
One of the better performances of the day was turned in by center/guard prospect Justin Boren. The 309-pound Boren turned in a 5.19 in the 40, an improvement of nearly 0.5 over his combine time. Why so much faster? Boren limped through his combine workout on a bad ankle, trying to hide the injury from scouts.
Many of the players are hoping to get yet another chance to work out in front of league decision-makers on Marth 30, the date their teammate Cameron Heyward will finally showcase his skills for scouts and coaches.
From TCU comes word that a tight hamstring caused wide receiver Jeremy Kerley to make a late decision not to run the 40 for scouts in attendance. Kerley did field punts for a number of teams during the workout. Though there are no definite plans for Kerley to run again prior to the draft, he has already set up private visits with two teams and would run the 40 again if asked, according to members of his team.
Quarterback Andy Dalton threw the ball well. He was accurate and displayed good timing on just about all the passes he tossed, almost 50 in total.
Receiver Jimmy Young and offensive lineman Marcus Cannon only took part in position drills.
At Ohio State, sure-handed wideout Dane Sanzenbacher was clocked under 4.5 seconds in the 40, an improvement of more than .05 from his combine mark. The number is important for Sanzenbacher, one of the best route runners in the receiver class, as it shows he can be more than just a possession wideout.
At Purdue's pro day, underrated tight end Kyle Adams performed better than expected. The pass catching specialist ran 4.79 in the 40 after measuring 6-4˝, 257 pounds. His vertical jump was 33.5 inches and three cone 7.1, marks which would have put him above the median line at the combine had Adams received an invitation.
Several pro days on Friday's schedule loom large and could impact the rankings at different positions.
In Idaho, safety Shiloh Keo, who drew rave reviews after his practice session at the combine, hopes to improve on his 40 time from Indianapolis. His fastest time clocked 4.74 seconds. One-tenth faster could push Keo into the third round.
In Fort Worth, TCU receiver Jeremy Kerley, who possesses some of the finest hands of any wideout in April's draft, looks to run faster than his combine best of 4.56.
Usually pro day at Ohio State is a major event but considering what's presently taking place with the football team coupled with the fact top prospect Cameron Heyward is still recovering from elbow surgery, it will be anti-climatic for scouts.
Anti-climatic is probably the best way to describe Oregon's pro day Thursday. Dependable wideout Jeff Maehl did not break 4.6 in the 40 while undersized linebacker Casey Matthews could not get under 4.8. The Ducks top prospect, defensive lineman Brandon Bair, only performed position drills and is a third-round pick at best.