Category:NFL Draft
Posted on: January 26, 2010 5:42 pm

FB John Conner replaces Charles Scott for South

LSU running back Charles Scott failed the physical to participate in the Senior Bowl but because he was in town yesterday was measured by scouts anyway.

To fill his spot on the roster, Kentucky fullback John Conner was added to the South roster. He participated in this afternoon's practice, wearing #32 and sporting a Miami Dolphins helmet.

The Dolphins, of course, are coaching the South...

Conner is among the only true fullbacks worthy of draft consideration. The former walk-on played in a school record 54 games for the Wildcats and is not only a devastating lead blocker, he's an underrated runner and receiver. Considering the use Tony Sparano and his staff got this year out of Lousaka Polite, Conner should get plenty of reps in practice.

Posted on: January 25, 2010 11:54 pm

Circus-like atmosphere for Tebow

In scouting the Senior Bowl since 2000, I've seen anything quite like today's South practice.

There were more fans, media, security at this one practice than I may have seen in any two combined practices in the past.

Let me attempt to describe the scene for you.

With the exception of the walk-through Friday practices, Mondays typically offer the least amount of excitement. Players are still jumpy, they've developed very little to any rapport with oneanother, they're more often than not limited to only shells (helmets, shoulder pads and shorts) and the coaches are often more focused on teaching certain basics, rather than allowing the players to really hit.

Furthermore, with the player weigh-in Monday morning, there is only enough light in the day for one practice session. Therefore, the North team practiced at Ladd Peebles Stadium, the site of Saturday's game, and the South team traveled to Fairhope Municipal Stadium, a 30 minute drive away. Each practiced began at 2:30 pm local (central) time.

Despite the fact that scouts were split up, it was obvious which team held the most interest for them. Based on the number of Florida fans in the stands, it was just as obvious why so many chose to go watch the South -- Tim Tebow was practicing there, after all.

Years ago, the Senior Bowl wasn't the spectacle it is now. As such, NFL personnel and media were allowed onto the field, itself, to scout from the sidelines during practice. We were only asked to remain on the sidelines until practice ended. Once it ended, upon flashing our credentials, we could enter the field to speak to the players. In the post 9/11 world, however, security tightened and league personnel and media were asked to remain in the stands during practice. A uniformed police officer remained at the gate and allowed us to enter at the conclusion of practice to speak to players.

There were several police officers on and off the field Monday, as well as some yellow-coated crowd control officers. There was an impromptu gate set up just to enter the stadium with one of the yellow-coated officers brandishing a metal detecting wand and patting down visitors.

If the event was the circus, then Tebow was clearly the main attraction on center stage. There were more Florida #15 jerseys in the stands and on the sidelines than Alabama and Auburn jerseys combined. When Tebow left the field, he was serenaded with chants of his last name and the screams of girls more suited to a Jonas Brothers concert than a typical Senior Bowl practice.

And to think, tomorrow, when there will be even more NFL scouts on hand, the circus could be even bigger...
Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: January 25, 2010 2:59 pm

Some surprises at the Senior Bowl weigh-in

College football teams are notorious for exaggerating the heights/weights and speeds of their athletes. The official weigh-in and measurements at all-star games and the Scouting Combine provide a truer picture of each player's actual size.

Some players come in smaller or lighter than expected and could see a slip down draft boards as a result. Others pleasantly surprised by measuring in taller or clearly spending some time in the gym or weight room since the end of the season.

A few players who disappointed during the weigh-ins were:

With all of the buzz around Tim Tebow, fellow South quarterbacks Tony Pike (Cincinnati) and Zac Robinson (Oklahoma State) did themselves no favors by each measuring in smaller than expected. Pike, at nearly 6-6, weighed on 212 pounds. His skinny build won't do much to convince scouts that he'll be more durable in the NFL than he's proven while with the Bearcats. Similarly, Robinson, who was listed by Oklahoma State at 6-3, 218 pounds, instead came in just over 6'2 and 210 pounds...

Pike's teammate, Mardy Gilyard , also came in very light. While certainly elusive, scouts wonder if he'll be able to get off press coverage in the slot at only 179 pounds.

Tight end/Fullback 'tweeners Dorin Dickerson and Garrett Graham also came in smaller than expected. Dickerson, originally listed at 6-2, 230 pounds, was instead 6-1, 222 and Graham (6-3, 250), only weight 234 pounds.

A few players who helped themselves during the weigh-ins were:

Florida State outside linebacker Dekoda Watson , boasting arguably the most impressive physique of either roster, surprised by measuring in at 6-2, 232 pounds. He had been listed by the Seminoles at 226 pounds and some scouts had estimated that he'd actually weigh in under 220.

NFL teams looking for bullish backs will be certain to keep an eye on Mississippi State's Anthony Dixon and Oregon LaGarrette Blount , each of whom measured in at an eye-popping 245 pounds. Their weight certainly wasn't due to extra slices of pizza following their seasons. Trim waistlines and thick lower bodies should aid in their transition to the NFL.

Utah pass rusher Koa Misi , who played defensive end for the Utes, seems to be taking his likely conversion to outside linebacker seriously. Expected to weigh in at 6-2, 263, but instead came in nearly an inch taller and at a relatively svelt 243 pounds.

Guards Jon Asamoa (Illinois) and John Jerry (Mississippi) each weighed in lighter than expected. Asamoa had been listed by Illinois at 6-5, 315 pounds, but actually came in at 6-4 and 300 pounds. Jerry was listed by Ole Miss at 6-6, 335, but had reportedly seen his weight balloon to over 350, at times, came in at 6-5 (and a 1/2) and and 332 pounds. We'll see if the drop in weight makes him even more athletic, without sacrificing his power.

Notes --

The smallest player measured was Ole Miss all-purpose star Dexter McCluster, who measured in at a shade over 5'08 and at 165 pounds. Not surprisingly, Alabama nose guard Terrance Cody was the heaviest player, tipping the scales at 370 pounds. Cody's sloppy build will move him down some teams' boards. Notre Dame offensive tackle Sam Young, the last man measured, was the tallest player. He came in at 6'07 (and 3/4) and 305 pounds.

Posted on: January 19, 2010 1:05 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2010 1:08 pm

53 Underclassmen Enter Draft, Ties Record

The NFL announced that 53 underclassmen have petitioned and been accepted into the player pool for the 2010 NFL Draft. The total matches 2008 as the highest number of underclassmen allowed in the draft in league history. It continues a growing trend of young players forgoing their eligibility early. There were "only" 35 players who made themselves eligible in 2001 and just last year the number was 46.

Due to virtual perfect storm of circumstances, the mass exodus of underclassmen was predictable. Concerns about a potential rookie salary cap has generated the most attention, but other factors, including the high profile injuries to Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and tight end Jermaine Gresham also likely played a role in pushing the kids out.

Another significant factor that led to underclassmen coming out early was the almost season-long battle between the NFL, the BCS conferences and their video companies, DVSport and XOS Technologies. NFL scouts typically received film from the college teams each week for free. This year, however, the conferences demanded payment. The resulting conflict took months to resolve, leaving scouts little time to grade the huge number of underclassmen that sent in their paperwork to the NFL Advisory Committee. Without the opinions of the NFL teams that would actually be doing the drafting, players often resorted to the opinions of agents, media and friends/family.

Many of the names among the 53 are recognizable to even casual fans. Some, however, are not. As is always the case, one hopes that those relatively unknown names did their due diligence in making this critical decision. Players had until January 15th to declare for the draft. They are given a 72 hour time period to change their mind and return to school, assuming they do not sign with an agent. South Carolina defensive end/outside linebacker Eric Norwood is a recent example of a player that announced he'd be leaving, only to change his mind and return to school. He earned his third consecutive All-SEC honor this year and has helped his draft stock.

Here are the names of the 53 players:

Basped, Kevin

Benn, Arrelious

Berry, Eric

Best, Jahvid

Bowman, Navorro

Bradford, Sam

Briscoe, Dezmon

Brown, Antonio

Bryant, Dez

Bulaga, Bryan

Burnett, Morgan

Campbell, Bruce

Clausen, Jimmy

Curran, Rennie

Davis, Anthony

Dunlap, Carlos

Dwyer, Jonathan

Franks, Dominique

Geathers, Clifton

Gibson, Thaddeus

Gresham, Jermaine

Griffen, Everson

Gronkowski, Rob

Haden, Joe

Hernandez, Aaron

Jackson, Kareem

Jones, Chad

Jones, Reshad

Joseph, Linval

Marshall, Darius

Mathews, Ryan

McClain, Rolando

McCoy, Gerald

McKnight, Joe

McNeal, Shawnbrey

Mitchell, Carlton

Moore, Joshua

Morgan, Derrick

Norton, Jerell

Pierre-Paul, Jason

Pouncey, Maurkice

Price, Brian

Rogan, Dennis

Snead, Jevan

Spievey, Amari

Tate, Golden

Thomas, Demaryius

Thomas, Earl

Warren, Donovan

Williams, Damian

Williams, Mike

Worilds, Jason

Wright, Major

Posted on: January 14, 2010 10:32 pm

TE Gronkowski expected to leave early

Arizona junior tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing surgery on a herniated disk and nerve damage in his lower back in September, has scheduled a press conference for Friday morning and is expected to announce that he's entering his name in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Though he doesn't have Jermaine Gresham's big name, the 6-6, 265 pound Gronkowski could compete with the former Oklahoma star at the top of tight end rankings if he can prove he's healthy. According to sources, Gronkowski flew on January 6th to Marina del Rey, California to meet with the doctor who performed the surgery on and has since been running and working out in preparation for next season.

Whether next season is with the Wildcats or the NFL, of course, only Gronkowski knows, at this time.

Considering that his older brother, senior H-back Chris Gronkowski will be leaving after this season and the relatively weak class of tight ends, scouts expect the 2008 first-team all-Pac-10 choice to leave early -- assuming he feels secure in the health of his back.

Voted a third-team All-American in 2008 after he caught 47 passes for 672 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing the first three games due to illness (mono), Gronkowski entered the 2009 season on the John Mackey Award watchlist. With only two seasons under his belt, he's Arizona's all-time leading tight end in various categories, including the single game, single season, and career leader in receptions (75), receiving yards (1,197) and touchdowns (16).

Blessed with great size, good athleticism and soft hands, he's a true threat on short and intermediate routes and a better blocker than most give him credit for.

Completely healthy, he'd likely earn a first round grade from teams. Considering that seriousness of his back injury and resulting surgery, however, teams could be hesitant to use a first round pick on him. That said, in a class with only one other true headliner at tight end -- and, of course, Gresham is coming off his own surgery -- and a series of specialists (receiver specialists Aaron Hernandez, Ed Dickson and blocking specialist Anthony McCoy), a spot among the Top 50 certainly seems possible.

Posted on: January 9, 2010 2:43 pm

Senior Bowl Coaching Staffs -- Mia vs. Det.

In prepping for what will be my tenth Senior Bowl, I was pleased to read that the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins will be the coaching staffs in place for the Mobile all-star game classic.

For one, Jim Schwartz and Tony Sparano are innovative, high-energy coaches that will push the players throughout the week of practice. If everything I've heard about these teams' practice habits are correct, the drills and scrimmages will be run efficiently. Teaching and coaching will be a focus, but the players won't be over-worked on scheme or re-working their technique. They'll be allowed to play and, more importantly, audition for the hundreds of scouts in attendance.

Secondly, with their varied offensive and defensive schemes, we'll get an opportunity to see these prospects preparing to play in or prepare for the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, as well as pro-style and Wildcat offenses. The variety of scheme is particularly important for judging whether 'tweener players could effectively transition to an NFL system -- as in the case of undersized pass rushers potentially making the jump to the rush OLB position in the 3-4 or "Slash" quarterback types.

Considering the coaching choices, I'll not be at at all surprised when some of the more hotly debated senior prospects that fit in these two categories -- Tim Tebow, Dan LeFevour, Sergio Kindle, Ricky Sapp, Wille Young, etc. are ultimately invited to this game.

Posted on: January 7, 2010 7:54 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2010 10:27 am

Which Kindle shows up tonight?

One of the more hotly contested prospects in the entire country, Texas DE/OLB Sergio Kindle, will have an opportunity tonight to establish himself as a legitimate first round pick -- or potentially slip in the mid to late portion of the second round.

The 6-4, 255 pound Kindle is as quick off the snap as any defensive end in the country and generates even greater momentum around the corner due to his straight-line speed. He's effective against the run, especially when chasing down ball-carriers from the backside. He's fluid enough that teams operating out of the 3-4 alignment are intrigued not only by speed as a pass rusher, but his agility in coverage, as well.

However, for as athletic as he is, Kindle is a frustrating player to scout, as he doesn't locate the ball well enough or use his hands to fight through blocks. This is one of the primary reasons why Texas credits him with 31 QB hurries entering this contest, but only 3 sacks.  He's like several other potential DE-OLB converts in this class (Clemson's Ricky Sapp and NC State's Wille Young are others) who can dominate for a play or two, only to disappear for long stretches.

With their focus on the run game, Alabama likely won't give Kindle as many opportunities to show off his speed rushing the passer as many of the pass-heavy Big 12 teams have this season. How Kindle is able to handle Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and the Tide's power running game -- especially when they elect to run directly at him -- could be the hidden factor that determines the National Championship, as well as how NFL scouts project Kindle at the next level.

Posted on: January 7, 2010 7:40 pm

Clausen/Bradford surgeries opened door for Snead

Ole Miss junior quarterback Jevan Snead surprised many with his decision to leave school after a junior season marred by inconsistency.

However, considering the rehabilitations from surgery of top-rated juniors Jimmy Clausen and Sam Bradford and the underwhelming seniors prospects at the position, the decision isn't nearly as surprising. Just last year we saw with former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez what one impressive workout can do to a quarterback's draft stock.

The difference, of course, is that Sanchez appeared to improve as his junior season went on and was dominant in the biggest game of his life -- the Rose Bowl against Penn State.

Snead, on the other hand, seemed to struggle amid the heightened scrutiny of his junior season and played poorly (even before getting knocked out of the game) against Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl. His 20 interceptions were the most in the SEC this season and nearly twice as many as he threw last year (13).

His struggles in 2009 cannot entirely be blamed upon him, as the loss of left tackle Michael Oher and wide receiver Mike Wallace to the NFL last April certainly lessened Ole Miss' offensive talent. Perhaps anticipating the loss of another talented lineman in OG John Jerry, WR Shay Hodge and Mr. Everything Dexter McCluster also pushed Snead out the door.

Snead, 6-3, 220 pounds, has all of the physical traits scouts are looking for in a potential Pro Bowl quarterback. As such, in a draft lacking "sure things" at the quarterback position, his natural talent is enough to pique the interests of scouts and result in a high (2nd-3rd) round selection.

  And yet, while the decision will result in millions for Snead in the short term, it remains a poor choice, in my -- and more importantly -- in NFL scouts' opinions.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or