Posted on: April 3, 2011 12:10 pm
The Pro Day "season" is coming to a close, but not before two of the more intriguing skill position talents get their chance to work out for scouts.
Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph , NFLDraftScout.com's top rated player at the position , will be among the former Irish players working out on campus this upcoming Thursday, April 7. Unlike many of this year's tight end prospects, at 6-6 and 259 pounds, Rudolph has the size to compete as a blocker, as well as be a security blanket over the middle.
Teams do have questions about his straight-line speed and upper body strength, however, making his Pro Day workout an important element to determining his final grade.
Rudolph missed the final seven games of his junior season after surgery to repair a hamstring avulsion (muscle tears off the bone). As such, he was unable to work out at the Combine.
Though Rudolph has the bigger name, there could wind up being just as many top decision-makers at Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones ' Pro Day a week later.
Unlike the Notre Dame Pro Day, in which Rudolph will be sharing the spotlight with underrated defensive tackle Ian Williams, among others, scouts will be coming to see just Jones at his April 14 workout.
Jones' workout, rather than be scheduled at EWU's campus in the tranquil but remote setting of Cheney, Washington, will take place at Los Medanos Junior College in Antioch, Calif ornia.
Though most athletes choose to work out at their school, prospects do have the option of working out in their home states. Jones was raised in Antioch.
Jones is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 9 rated running back. Some teams view the 6-0, 194 pound Jones as a possible converst to cornerback or wide receiver. Jones has struggled with durability throughout his career and has electric speed. As this video suggests , he may wind up being the fastest player in the 2011 draft.
There are 26 NFL teams already scheduled to attend his workout April 14. Jones will be doing all of the measureable drills and may be asked to do positional drills at running back, receiver and cornerback.
Posted on: April 1, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: April 1, 2011 1:29 pm
Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, listed by some as a potential candidate to go No. 1 overall, may see his stock slip after a rather disappointing performance during his much-anticipated pro day workout Friday.
Bowers, according to sources on the scene, measured in at 6034 (6-3 1/2) and 276 pounds and was clocked at 4.91 seconds in the 40-yard dash. That time, coming off a hand-held stopwatch from a league scout, would have placed Bowers 21st among the 24 defensive ends tested this year in the event at the scouting combine. Only Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal (5.16), TCU's Wayne Daniels (5.03) and Boise State's Ryan Winterswyk (4.96) were slower when tested in Indianapolis.
To be fair, the 40-yard dash is hardly the end-all, be-all measurement for football players, especially defensive linemen, who will rarely (if ever) be asked to run 40 yards in a straight line on a football field. It is also important to note that Bowers is recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The surgery kept Bowers sidelined for the combine agility tests and Clemson's initial pro day on March 10.
Unfortunately for Bowers, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5-rated player overall, the lack of explosiveness demonstrated in his slow times in the 40-yard dash were also evident in his broad jump and vertical jump. In these events, Bowers tested at 9'2" and 34.5", respectively. These results were better in comparison to other defensive ends tested at the combine, but were characterized by the scout as "average for the position."
Another scout characterized Bowers' workout as a whole as "sluggish."
I've argued in the past that Bowers' eye-popping totals in 2010 (including a nation-leading 15.5 sacks) had been more of a function of an aggressive Clemson defense rather than the speed typically associated with highly productive pass rushers. Bowers, while powerful and possessing good lateral quickness, simply is not a quick-twitch athlete with a high degree of explosiveness. It is a primary reason why league sources characterized Bowers as an "overrated" defensive end in the 2011 draft.
Not surprisingly, considering his game-tape, Bowers was at his best during the shuttle drills. He was particularly fast in the 3-cone drill (6.95), demonstrating his ability to change directions fluidly and the acceleration he used so effectively in closing on quarterbacks last season. Only three defensive ends tested in Indianapolis tested faster in the 3-cone drill this year -- Texas' Sam Acho (6.69 seconds), Fresno State's Chris Carter (6.88) and Wisconsin's J.J. Watt (6.88). Of the three, only Watt (6-6, 290 pounds) is heavier than Bowers.
The fast times in this event, which requires heavy pivoting of the knee and acceleration, provide some evidence that Bowers' knee has healed.
That's good news for Bowers. However, it also limits his ability to pawn off his less-than-explosive measureables as a result of the knee not yet being fully healed.
Bowers' disappointing workout won't take the place of his dominant junior season in the eyes of scouts. It could, however, lead to a tumble on draft day, especially considering how closely rated Bowers has been in comparison to fellow pass rushers Robert Quinn, Cameron Jordan, Watt and others.
Posted on: March 28, 2011 5:59 pm
UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers can point to his tape as proof that he's a good athlete and an even better football player.
Considering that Ayers racked up 123 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, six interceptions (two returned for TDs), and four forced fumbles (one returned for a TD) over his two full starting seasons with the Bruins, he's got a point.
Despite the flashy big plays that scream otherwise, Ayers was proven to be a remarkably pedestrian athlete at the 2011 Combine.
The 6-2 (1/2), 254 pounder was electronically timed at 4.88 in the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis. Only two outside linebackers tested at the Combine were slower -- Boston College's Mark Herzlich (5.02) and Michigan's Jonas Mouton (4.94). Even worse, Ayers was the slowest of all linebackers tested this year in the 3-cone drill, a test designed to identify flexibility, change of direction and explosiveness -- three elements typically critical to strong linebacker play. Ayers was timed at 7.49 seconds. Herzlich, by comparison, was timed at 7.33 seconds.
According to a source with knowledge of Ayers' workouts prior to the Combine and any improvements he's made since, NFL scouts and the media could be in for a disappointment if they think the First-Team All Pac-10 (and Third Team All-American) performer is going to test significantly better during his Pro Day workout for scouts Tuesday, March 29.
According to the source, "[Ayers] is what he is -- a damn good football player. But, I can tell you right now, when he started working out, he wasn't very fast. He's improved and I expect him to be better at the Pro Day than he was at the Combine, but he's not going to blow anyone away with his workout."
Ayers is expected to have a lot of NFL talent-evaluators on hand to see just how much his numbers can improve. Ayers and Rahim Moore, despite each disappointing in their Combine workouts, remain among NFLDraftScout.com's top 64 prospects and are certain to spark lots of interest. Teams will also be traveling to the West Coast this week in preparation for USC and Washington's Pro Days on Wednesday.
Posted on: March 27, 2011 5:48 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2011 7:51 pm
The key to running a fast time in the 40-yard dash, trainers say, is to start fast.
If that theory proves true, Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones may prove to be the fastest player in the 2011 draft.
Doug Farrar of Yahoo.com recorded a video of Jones practicing the 40-yard dash at the esteemed Athletes Performance. In the video, Jones' coach, Performance Manager Brent Callaway, claims that Jones' 10-yard splits are in the "1.4s." If so, the 6-0, 194 pound running back will have finished the most important quarter of the 40-yard dash faster than anyone tested at the Scouting Combine.
The video shows Callaway coaching Jones on the first 15 yards of the dash. It is Callaway's comments about Jones' starts a little later in the video, however, that will create the biggest stir in the scouting community. At one point he tells Jones he had him at "1.45."
Followng the workout, Farrar asks Callaway the question we'd all like to know -- What's [Jones] been running here?
"Running fast. Running fast," Callaway replies. "We haven't caught him on a full 40 yet, but his first 10 he's been running low 1.4s and that sets him up to run really fast whenever he goes out."
According to sources within the league, the fastest electronically timed 10-yard split run at the 2011 Scouting Combine was by Ohio State's Chimdi Chekwa -- who ran it in 1.52 seconds. Chekwa was electronically timed at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, only .01 seconds slower than Miami's DeMarcus Van Dyke -- the fastest player at the 2011 Combine. Van Dyke's fastest 10-yard split was 1.58 seconds.*
Jones is training for his Pro Day April 14. A broken bone in his left foot suffered in the playoffs on EWU's run to the national championship kept Jones from working out at the Scouting Combine or Eastern Washington's scheduled Pro Day. Jones, the 2010 Big Sky Co-Offensive Player of the Year, rushed for 1,742 yards and scored 14 touchdowns last season.
He is a player I'm very high on. I believe he's the most electrifying open field runner in this class. He comes with legitimate durability concerns, but his versatility and athleticism could make him an immediate difference-maker in the right offense. NFLDraftScout.com currently rates Jones as a 3rd-4th round pick .
*These electronically-timed results are the ones used by NFL teams and in some cases different than the times reported during The NFL Network and NFL.com's coverage of the Combine. NFL.com credits Van Dyke with a 4.28 second time in the 40-yard dash and has LSU's Patrick Peterson and Maryland's Da'Rel Scott tied for second place in the 40-yard dash at 4.34 seconds. The fastest electronic times, on the other hand, for Peterson and Scott were 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash (1.57 in the 10-yard split) and 4.38 and 1.55 seconds, respectively for Scott.
Here is Farrar's video:
Posted on: March 19, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2011 12:55 pm
Nebraska defensive end Pierre Allen has rescheduled his workout for April 5 at the request of NFL teams, according to his agent.
A simple two-sentence release sent out by agent Kenny Zuckerman of Priority Sports and Entertainment reads:
At the request of scouts, his pro-day will be moved up to Tuesday, April 5th @ 8:30am in Lincoln. Scouts wanted to get Allen and Daniel Thomas (Kansas State) done in the same day because many of the scouts were heading to their respective cities for draft meetings on April 6th .Allen had previously had his workout scheduled for April 6.
Both players are holding the late workouts because of injuries that kept them sidelined for the Scouting Combine and their schools' respective Pro Days.
Thomas has struggled with a lingering hamstring injury. Allen's problem has been a right wrist strain and strained right calf muscle.
Thomas, a junior college quarterback who signed with Kansas State and then-head coach Ron Prince largely because Prince promised to keep him at quarterback. Prince's replacement, Bill Snyder, however, convinced Thomas to switch to running back. The move made Thomas an instant star, as he was spectacularly productive for the Wildcats, rushing for a combined 2,850 yards and scoring 30 touchdowns on the ground. He earned First Team All Big-12 honors after each of the past two seasons.
Allen's story isn't as dynamic -- but scouts nonetheless are very intrigued. Allen, 6-3 (and a 1/2) and 273 pounds, is expected to do all of the measureable workouts, as well as perform in DL and/or LB drills, as requested. This position and schematic versatility could result in a top 100 pick.
Though Allen's sack totals dropped from five to 3.5 last season, his tackle numbers improved. As such, he was recognized as a First-Team All Big-12 defender by league coaches with 65 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss. Allen was especially productive in the loss to Washington in the Holiday Bowl, racking up a team-high eight tackles (seven solos), including a tackle for loss.
A three-year starter for the Blackshirts, Allen's strength and length make him one of the better of the second tier defensive linemen in this draft and a likely 3rd-4th round pick.
Posted on: March 18, 2011 1:02 pm
As a NFL Draft analyst with a background in Education, I value the role that intelligence plays in the game of football. The ability to decipher information quickly -- especially at the quarterback position -- is absolutely critical to success.
That said, the NFL's version of an intelligence test -- the famed Wonderlic -- is the single most overrated element of the pre-draft process. (And considering the hype generated from the 40-yard dash, bench press and vertical jump, that's quite an accomplishment.)
I've long maintained that college tape makes up roughly 80% of the grade I assign a player. The medical/interview process at the Combine takes up about 15% of the grade.
That leaves only about 5% of my overall player grade for the measureable workouts at the Combine and Pro Days. Of the measureables, the Wonderlic is the least important in most cases.*
(*Again, I do pay attention to this score for quarterbacks -- but only if the grade is in the mid teens or lower.)
And for some positions, too high of a Wonderlic score can actually be considered a detriment by some.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee recalled a comment from then-49ers general manager Scot McCloughan regarding the Wonderlic.
As Scot McCloughan, then the team's vice president of player personnel, noted in 2005, teams don't want players to be too smart either, especially at certain positions. "Some positions, like cornerback, you don't want a really intelligent guy because if he does get beat, you don't want him overanalyzing it," McCloughan said.
Want to know more about the Wonderlic?
Take this 15 question sample test yourself.
How did you score?
Good for you.
Now, smart guy (or gal) tell me how identifying the ninth month of the year helps you block DeMarcus Ware.
Posted on: March 17, 2011 7:24 pm
While the vast majority of the NFL (and certainly media) attention was spent on quarterback Blaine Gabbert at Missouri's Pro Day, another potential first round pick -- defensive end Aldon Smith -- was among the other former Tigers who also worked out for scouts Thursday.
Like a lot of prospects in the 2011 draft, there is a wide range of opinion regarding Smith. Two sources (who each admitted to me that they attended Thursday's workout more to watch Smith than Gabbert) demonstrated just how different those thoughts could be.
The first source, who works for a club operating out of 3-4 base defense, thought that Smith looked "fantastic." He cited Smith's "explosive burst, acceleration and potential to be a big sucker once he grows into his body." The source envisioned Smith as a 3-4 rush linebacker who "absolutely should" go off the board in the middle to late portion of the first round.
The second source, scouting for a team with a four man front, wasn't nearly as impressed with Smith's workout. He called the workout "just average" and felt that it proved his limitations as strictly a 4-3 defensive end due to the fact that he "can't bend." The source referred back to a "disappointing" Combine workout from Smith in which the Tiger pass rusher was "one of the slowest DL in the shuttle."
Smith, for the record, registered a 4.59 and 4.50 in the short shuttle, designed to test change of direction and burst. His average ranked 16th out of the 20 DL tested in this drill at the Combine.
This source thought that Smith deserved to be drafted in the second or even the third round, but acknowledged that "someone is going to take him earlier based on his upside and his 2009 tape."
Smith burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman, breaking Justin Smith's school record with 11.5 sacks to go along with 64 tackles and 19 tackles for loss. For his efforts, Smith was unanimously chosen as the Big 12's Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2009.
Despite being the focus of every team's blocking scheme, Smith's 2010 season began in fine form. He posted 10 tackles, including three tackles for loss and two sacks in Missouri's season-opening win against Illinois. But a broken leg suffered against San Diego State sidelined him for three games and hampered his play much of the rest of the season. His statistical production dropped as a result: 48 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Posted on: March 17, 2011 3:22 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 6:48 pm
A strong throwing session from Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert could push him to the No. 1 overall pick.
According to a Twitter note from Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune, Gabbert completed 44 of 49 passes and characterized "at least three" of the incompletions to drops by the collection of D-II receivers organized for the workout. With Missouri having no draft-eligible receivers, he was left to rely on others, rather than former teammates to catch his passes.
A source on the scene characterized Gabbert's workout as a "8" when asked to score it on a scale of 1-10. The source pointed out some "little issues intermediate and deep." But also noted "good velocity and accuracy on the move."
Gabbert's "little issues" on deeper passes wasn't unexpected. This was a primary concern based off of the largely horizontal (rather than vertical) passing he was asked to do while operating Missouri's spread attack.
In demonstrating good footwork from under center and accuracy while on the run, Gabbert helped alleviate concerns about his ability to translate to a more traditional pro-style offense.
As expected, the Missouri Pro Day was well attended by NFL decision-makers, including Jets' head coach Rex Ryan, Ravens' head coach John Harbaugh, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, Bengals' head coach Marvin Lewis, and Jaguars' head coach Jack Del Rio.
We'll have more updates from Missouri's Pro Day as the day goes on, including a report on pass rusher Aldon Smith's attempts to better a rather disappointing Combine workout.