Tag:Senior Bowl
Posted on: March 5, 2010 11:27 am

Brandon Graham (injury) won't work out March 12

Michigan pass rusher Brandon Graham, NFLDraftScout.com's top rated outside linebacker, will not be able to work out at Michigan's upcoming Pro Day March 12 due to a strained hamstring. He strained the hamstring while running his second attempt at the 40-yard dash at the Combine. He was credited with a 4.72 on his first attempt and lifted 225 pounds 31 times in his only other drill.

Graham, 6-1, 263 pounds, instead, is going to hold an individual pro day April 8 on the Michigan campus.

Graham is the first two-time MVP in Michigan's storied history. He totaled 138 tackles, 56 tackles for loss, 29.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and three pass breakups, earning all-conference accolades after the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Graham was arguably the most dominant player on the field throughout the Senior Bowl practices and earned MVP honors during the game, itself.

Depsite the fact that Graham has already proven his ability on the football field, his workout could be very important in determining his final draft grade. Like former Michigan standout defensive end LaMarr Woodley, Graham is being projected to outside linebacker by many clubs operating out of the 3-4 scheme.

Perhaps what I, personally, like best about Graham is that he brings the same tenacity as a pass rusher that Woodley brought. Like his former teammate, Graham seems capable of making his biggest plays in the most critical moments.

As long as he is able to prove he can handle the change of direction necessary for occasional pass coverage, I expect Graham to be a first round pick and an immediate impact defender for a 3-4 club.
Posted on: March 2, 2010 1:05 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2010 1:13 pm

Mays, as expected, wows in workouts

Former USC head coach Pete Carroll used to tell everyone who would listen that Taylor Mays was going to stun people with just how athletic he'd prove to be in workouts. With all of the talk about how Mays struggled in 2009 and the ridicule he took at the Senior Bowl, his stock has been sliding.

However, after posting one of the more impressive Combine performances in recent memory -- an unofficial 4.24 second 40-yard dash and 41" vertical -- Mays is certainly proving to be every bit the athlete he's been hyped.

Mays' preliminary time in the 40-yard dash would tie Tennessee running back Chris Johnson's time in 2008 as the fastest since the NFL began tracking "official" results in 2000. Again, however, the preliminary times being provided by The NFL Network have consistently been faster than the times provided later as official on NFL.com. (Mays' time was later changed to 4.43)

Mays' speed was the fastest recorded by any safety at the 2010 Combine.

As impressive as Mays' athleticism is in workouts, it is important to remember the game film. Just as I mentioned with the recent blog regarding Florida cornerback Joe Haden's surprisingly slow 40-yard dash time, good tape beats good workouts every time.

Posted on: February 27, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2010 12:48 pm

Mighty mite McCluster ready to "do it all"

Dexter McCluster isn't letting the fact that he was the first player in SEC history to rush for over 1,000 yards and gain more than 500 yards receiving in a single season serve as the only proof that he can play both positions in the NFL.

He is electing to both the running back and wide receiver workouts this week at the Combine. McCluster is the only known player who will be working out at two positions

At a time when so many players are waiting for their Pro Days to work out, McCluster's willingness to do both (as well as do his timed drills on the same day) is refreshing.

If his time at running back and receiver isn't enough, McCluster would also like to see time as a returner... And is willing to do any drills coaches want him to do if he is going to get a chance to play the gunner position he'd had early in his career with the Rebels.

Speaking on whether he'd prefer returning punts or kicks in the NFL, McCluster said, "A lot of people ask me... I told them punt return. I love that you have to think a little quicker. I love that. My quickness and my ability to stop and go, I believe, is a big aspect of my game."

McCluster went on to say, "I always want to be a gunner on the punt team. I love doing that. I tried to get on it this year, but coach wouldn't let me do it to save me. But that's something I love.

McCluster's straight-line speed is, surprisingly, one of the questions scouts have about him, McCluster is confident he'll run well tomorrow -- going so far as to predict his time of "something in the 4.3s."

Posted on: February 25, 2010 3:48 pm

Iupati - big, physical, aggressive -- why not DT?

Idaho's Mike Iupati, NFLDraftScout.com's top rated offensive guard for the past several months has the athletic ability and long reach to consider moving outside to tackle.

But, considering his massive frame, strength, aggression and quick feet, doesn't a move to the defensive side of the ball also possible?

"Big Mike" certainly thinks so:

"I really love defense," Iupati said during the interview session at the Combine. "That's my favorite passion of the game of football. I know I'm very physical and can hold up two gaps and take double teams, stuff like that. I always tried to push my [Idaho] coach to make me a defensive player because I know I am pretty good at that. But they like me at offensive line. It's kind of hard in college to play both ways. They did put me on the goal line (defense)."

Despite his passion and obvious physical attributes, Iupati has not been asked by any NFL scouts, thus far, about moving to the defensive side of the ball.

"I guess they think I'm good at guard and don't want to move me," he said.

Iupati is a talented guard prospect and considering his relative inexperience (started playing football in high school), it might be too much to try to switch him to a different position just as he is about to enter the pros. Should he struggle with the greater focus on technique that will be required for success in the NFL, however, a switch to the defensive side of the ball is a potential option to consider.
Posted on: February 20, 2010 3:07 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2010 3:08 pm

Dan LeFevour Not Throwing at Combine

NFL scouts have grown all too familiar with the fact that many of the elite prospects each year choose not to participate in the drills at the Combine.

Typically, however, this is reserved to elite prospects -- surefire first round candidates. Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen, considered the year's top two passer prospects, have already announced that they'll be waiting until their Pro Days to throw.

Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour has the production to warrant this type of hype. In fact, his statistics (15,853 total yards, 150 career touchdowns) while at Central Michigan are staggering.

Scouts, however, generally have placed him amongst the second tier of quarterbacks.
He is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's 6th-best quarterback and a 3rd round prospect,

That said, LeFeavour has publicly announced that he'll essentially be saying, "Thanks, but no thanks" to scouts when asked to throw in Indianapolis next week.

LeFevour announced his decision through an interview with Dan Mogollon at NFL Draft Bible.

“I’ll be doing (pretty much) everything except throwing at the combine,” LeFevour said.

In follow-up questions, LeFevour went on to add, “I will focus solely on throwing at Pro Day. Just getting focused with that…only having one thing to do on Pro Day and being able to work with my receivers up at school that are coming out. Putting everything I've got into that aspect of it.”

LeFevour's decision is surprising. He had been solid at the Senior Bowl and during the made-for-TV Individual Competition drills a few weeks ago, building some buzz for himself.

Throwing to his own receivers in his own setting will likely lead to LeFevour throwing more impressively during his Pro Day, but if teams are turned off by his decision, the move could significantly backfire.

A link to the entire audio is here.

Posted on: January 30, 2010 12:42 pm

Players to watch in Senior Bowl

You've read (or heard) us say how much more important the week of practice at the Senior Bowl is than the game, itself.

And while it is true that 90% of the scouts, coaches and front office excecutives that were in Mobile this week have now left, don't think that many of them will miss tuning in to the game (4 pm EST, NFL Network).

All players have an opportunity to help themselves with a strong performance today, but quarterbacks, running backs, and linebackers have historically gained the most.

Tim Tebow , of course, will get most of the attention, but be sure to check out the other South passers. West Virginia's Jarrett Brown could put a emphatic end to the week with a strong performance today and Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson has certainly flashed.

Because I promised myself I wouldn't write two consecutive sentences about #15, here's my final one -- don't pay so much attention to his elongated release (which remains the same it has always been), but instead to his ability to take the snap from center and accuracy downfield, as these were the two elements in which Tebow made consistent strides over the week.

It will be interesting, as well, to see if any sort of consistency comes from the North passers. Due to his mobility, Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour might be able to shake free some of the rust that hindered him this week. Cincinnati's Tony Pike has the arm to dazzle, but hasn't been able to string together more than a few completions in a row. Oregon State's Sean Canfield has struggled to get passes on a line outside the hashes due to a marginal arm strength, but throws a pretty ball down the seam and deep. If he can connect on a big one, he could leave Mobile with a positive.

The most dynamic running back this week of practice has clearly been Ole Miss' Mr. Everything Dexter McCluster . I haven't written about him, however, as the week of practice -- in which defenders were clearly instructed not to wrap up -- is perfectly suited to the elusive speedster's game. Now, don't get me wrong, McCluster showed remarkable strength and balance throughout his monster season in the SEC and may have a strong game today, but it will be tougher for him to break free for the 70 yarders that he was routinely zipping through in practice.

With defenders able to actually tackle backs, it will be interesting to see how the power backs Anthony Dixon (Mississippi State) and LaGarrette Blount (Oregon) fare. Be sure to watch for Wayne State's Joique Bell , who quietly helped himself this week and I wrote about as a one of the "honorable mention " risers from the week of practices.

Attempting to make the tackle on this blend of size, speed and power and shiftiness is a solid, but unspectacular class of linebackers. I'm particularly interested to see how effectively Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon , TCU's Daryl Washington , Florida State's Dekoda Watson and Washington's Donald Butler are able to fight through blocks and make open field stops close to the line of scrimmage, rather than downfield.

One final to note -- watch out for USC safety Taylor Mays to make an impact as a hitter in this game. As the opposite of McCluster, Mays' game is in the ferocity of his hitting, not the mobility he shows in coverage. Considering that he wasn't allowed to hit much over the week of practice, it isn't the least bit surprising that some feel he's struggled. The reality, is that Mays has been the same player this week as he's always been - the preeminent intimidator over the middle of at least the past ten years.
Posted on: January 29, 2010 9:30 pm

Gilyard admits to previous marijunana arrest

Mardy Gilyard is freely admitting to NFL scouts this week at the Senior Bowl the fact that he was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute while attending Flagler Palm Coast High School in Palm Coast, Florida, according to reports from NFL.com.

"Character’s a big issue, so I tell them straight-up," Gilyard was quoted as saying. “Everybody goes through mistakes, everybody has their downfalls, pretty much everyone has something that they’re not proud of.” Gilyard said. “And that’s one of the things I’m not proud of. So it’s pretty good (moving forward)."

Moving forward is something Gilyard has had to do before. He signed with Cincinnati as a highly touted athlete, but was dropped from the program due to academics. Without his scholarship, Gilyard was forced to pay back the school over $9,000. He was forced to sleep in his car and work odd jobs to earn the money to pay off the school, before being accepted back into the program by then-new head coach Brian Kelly.

While teams are certainly not going to like Gilyard's prior arrest, his proactive admission, rather than reactive acknowledgement of the past will help him prove to teams that he's learned from his mistakes.
Posted on: January 29, 2010 12:26 pm

Honorable Mention Risers from Mobile

With over 100 players doing everything imaginable to impress scouts this week at the Senior Bowl, it was difficult to come up with just ten to list as Risers as part of our Senior Bowl Risers/Fallers article .

Conversations with a variety of front office executives, scouts and coaches on the flights back from Mobile helped me decide who to highlight in the final article. A few other names were tossed around, however, as players that moved up draft boards this week.

I'll call these players the Honorable Mention All-Riser Team from the Senior Bowl...

QB Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State: Had it not been for two interceptions to end Wednesday's practice, Robinson might have made the original article. He showed better zip than anticipated on intermediate routes and has the athleticism and intelligence to handle the conversion from the Cowboys' spread offense to a pro-style attack. Robinson doesn't have the big name of some of his peers, but some clubs feel he's a potential future starter that might still be on the board in the 3rd round.

RB Joique Bell, Wayne State (MI): Despite winning the Harlon Hill Trophy (the D-II equivalent of the Heisman), many scouts had not even heard of Bell, much less seen him in person. He'll need to prove as tough to tackle in the game, itself, but Bell showed scouts an intriguing combination of balance, burst and power in Mobile. His short-stride running style makes him appear to be runnig slower than he is, making DBs misjudge their angles on him.

WR Dorin Dickerson, Pittsburgh: Dickerson seemed to struggle from the conversion from tight end to wide receiver early this week, but scouts are less worried about initial impressions and more concerned with how a player improves throughout the practices. Dickerson blew by Cal cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson for an early score and showed good body control to make acrobatic catches out of poorly thrown passes.

OG Vladimir DuCasse, UMass: DuCasse was highlighted by several scouts as being a player to watch and an offensive line coach was eager to agree that the "Haitian Sensation" has a rare combination of size and athleticism that he'd love to work with. He proved quite raw in his technique in pass protection, however, and thus the higher-up executives wondered how long it might take for him to make an impact.

CB Chris Cook, Virginia: At nearly 6-2 and a solid 212 pounds, Cook doesn't fit every scheme. Scouts working for clubs operating out of a press cover foundation, however, found Cook to be very intriguing. He's physical at the point of attack and is smoother than his length would indicate. One scout compared him to Green Bay's Al Harris and pointed to Cook's experience in Al Groh's scheme as evidence that he'd be more ready to handle the complexity of an NFL defense than most rookie corners...

RB Lonyae Miller, Fresno State: Opportunities were few for Miller with the Bulldogs this season backing up Ryan Mathews, the nation's leading rusher, but he flashed the same explosive burst in Mobile that he had shown as a change of pace back in Fresno. Scouts are always looking for speed backs with the hands to help on 3rd down and while many of these jobs are going to smaller backs, that's because few have Miller's frame (5-11, 220) and acceleration.

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