Category:NFL
Posted on: March 27, 2009 8:49 pm
 

NIU's Larry English Steps it up at Pro Day

 

 Northern Illinois defensive end/outside linebacker didn't necessarily have to workout for scouts Friday. The two-time MAC defensive player of the year was impressive off the edge at the Senior Bowl and flashed athleticism in Combine workouts, as well.

However, considering that many teams wanted to see him shed some time off his 40-yard dash, the move was a good one. English's fastest time at the Combine was 4.82 seconds, but he was clocked in the high 4.6s to low 4.7s according to scouts in attendance Friday, and was better in both defensive line and linebacker drills, as well. 

The knock on English is that while he has good burst off the snap and reasonable straight-line speed, he doesn't necessarily change directions as fluidly as some teams operating the 3-4 defense would prefer out of their linebackers. In a 4-3 scheme, English, 6-2, 255 pounds, is probably best suited as an undersized defensive end, which is why many of the teams who had scouts on campus were from clubs operating out of the 3-4.

Among the teams represented were the 49ers, Ravens, Packers, Steelers, Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Broncos, Lions, Falcons, Bears, Saints, Bills and Buccaneers.

English has the tools to warrant consideration late in the first round, but this year's unique collection of outside linebackers and hybrid defensive ends likely to make the transition to the OLB position could push him into the mid second range. He is among a group of about a baker's dozen hybrid pass rushers (Brian Orakpo, Everette Brown, Brian Cushing, Aaron Maybin, Robert Ayers, Connor Barwin, Clay Matthews Jr, Clint Sintim, Paul Kruger, Michael Johnson, Lawrence Sidbury, Jr, Cody Brown, Zach Follett, etc.) scouts feel warrant first day consideration. 

Posted on: March 27, 2009 8:28 pm
 

Houston OT Vollmer Draws Scouts to Pro Day

A large contingent of NFL scouts descended upon the Houston campus Friday to workout 13 former Cougars and other local prospects; most significantly OT Sebastian Vollmer.

Vollmer, 6-7, 312 pounds, was a bit of a late bloomer in terms of his football ability, but has progressed each season and has the natural tools scouts are looking for in a developmental prospect. My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter acknowledged Vollmer's impressive play when scouting the East-West Shrine Game practices and further noted Vollmer as one of the 15 Best Prospects not invited to the Combine.Vollmer, who started at left tackle for the Cougars, was moved to the right tackle position in the Shrine Game and took to the position quickly, showcasing rare athleticism and surprising physicality.

On Friday, Vollmer showed that Chad was correct to notice him, stunning scouts with his combination of size and raw athleticism. One scout in attendance clocked Vollmer at 5.12 in the 40-yard dash and watched the former Cougar tackle post a staggering 37.5" vertical jump -- significantly better than any vertical jump recorded by an offensive tackle at the Combine.

The headlining talent at offensive tackle this season is likely to drop Vollmer lower than he'd be in a typical draft. However, come the mid portion of the second day, teams would be wise to consider him. He certainly has the size/speed combination to intrigue scouts and one can't help but be impressed by his ability to step up his performance at the Shrine Game and his Pro Day.

Posted on: March 26, 2009 9:37 pm
 

Oher, Jerry Draw All 32 Teams to Ole Miss Pro Day

Michael Oher had been characterized as slipping down draft boards after only a so-so performance in drills and interviews while at the Combine.

His teammate, defensive tackle Peria Jerry, likewise was slipping after not being able workout in Indianapolis due to a pulled left hamstring.

Both boosted their stock with impressive showings Thursday at the Mississippi Pro Day. Oher and Jerry's rare foot quickness stood out to scouts on film and on the field at the Senior Bowl. It did on Thursday in front of an estimated 65 scouts -- representing every team in the league -- as well.

Oher, despite working out at the Combine, was characterized by one scout attending the workout as "the star of the show." Oher, 6-5, 306 pounds shaved nearly two-tenths of a second off of his 40-yard dash time from Indianapolis, going from a 5.32 to a 5.14, according to the watch of the scout. Oher also lifted the 225 bar 25 times, though two of the attempts were not allowed by scouts because he didn't lock-out. Still, the 23 repetitions was two more than he had lifted at the Combine.

Peria Jerry was still hampered a bit by the hamstring injury and only ran the 40-yard dash once Thursday, but the 4.94 time he recorded (according to the scout) was faster than any defensive tackle as heavy as Jerry (6-2, 290) at the Combine. Jerry was just as impressive in the short shuttle (4.64) and 3-cone drill (7.30), demonstrating the agility and burst that caused him to be one of the most talked-about prospects in Mobile. Jerry also recorded a 31-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot, 6-inch broad jump. His 28 bench press reps were also impressive.

Ole Miss has several other NFL prospects of note. Wide receiver Mike Wallace elected not to perform any timed drills Thursday, after proving his unique blend of size and speed at the Combine. The 6-0, 199 pounder was timed in the 4.3s in Indianapolis and had a 40" vertical there, but did help his cause Thursday by running surprisingly crisp routes, according to the scout, and catching every pass thrown to him in drills. One of the knocks on Wallace is that he remains a bit of a track guy in pads, so catching the ball cleanly is sure to boost his stock with scouts.

Safety Jamarca Sanford (5-10, 209) showcased better speed (4.45) Thursday than he had in Indianapolis (4.50) and again proved his rare strength, lifting the bar 26 times. Sanford finished behind only USC safety-linebacker hybrid Kevin Ellison at the Combine with 29 reps.

One more note on Oher... NFLDraftScout.com ranked Oher as the top senior prospect in the country for much of the 2008 season and despite other analysts questioning if he'll even make the first round, I've stuck with him. The lowest I've had him go in any mock draft is 13th overall. There is a possibility that the questions about his consistency will drop him lower, but Oher's size, athleticism and dominance against what I believe to be the most talented conference in the college football makes him an underrated talent in my book. I believe he is a potential Pro Bowl left tackle -- and those players deserve high early first round consideration.

 

 

Posted on: March 26, 2009 8:39 pm
 

Nevada LB Mauga one to watch

A torn left pectoral muscle kept Nevada linebacker Josh Mauga from participating in the drills at the Combine, but his performance Wednesday in front of an estimated 20 league representatives has his stock on the move.

Mauga, who has seen starting action at both inside and outside linebacker while with the Wolfpack, is being projected by scouts as an inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense and is one of the few second day linebackers with the combination of size and athleticism to do it. Mauga's 40-yard dash times (4.58, 4.60, 4.62), 20-yard shuttle (4.28), and three-cone drill times (7.16) would have ranked among the best at the Combine, especially considering his size (6013, 246 pounds). Mauga looked especially good in positional drills. There were an estimated 20 teams represented. 

Mauga is currently NFLDraftScout.com's 12th rated inside linebacker and viewed as a 7th round to undrafted free agent. Considering his workout and recovery from the pectoral injury, however, some teams are projecting him at least a round earlier.

Category: NFL
Posted on: March 25, 2009 11:32 pm
 

Underrated Oregon State players moving up

 Many outside of the Pac-10 conference have heard of Oregon State cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes or offensive lineman Andy Levitre, an underrated component of the Beavers' winning the Pac-10 crown was the play of safety Al Afalava.

Afalava, a four year starter, was not invited to the Combine despite his steady play, but recently worked out for scouts, putting forth a workout that would have ranked as the best all-around from any safety invited to Indianapolis. The workout was good enough, in fact, that the Colts, Bears and Seahawks have all already scheduled private workouts with Afalava.

Afalava measured in at 5-11, 207 pounds and was clocked in the mid 4.4s (4.42-4.48) in the 40-yard dash. He also posted a 40" vertical jump, a 10'5" broad, a 4.06 short shuttle, 6.50 3-cone, and put up a staggering 29 repetitions of 225 pounds.

Another former Beaver making his way back up the charts is guard Jeremy Perry. Perry, voted Co-Freshman of the Year back in 2005 (along with Arizona wideout Mike Thomas) has worked his way back from multiple leg injuries that caused him to miss the entire 2008 season and had led to speculation that his football career was over. Instead, Perry will be working out for scouts at the Hawaii Pro Day April 2nd, brandishing x-rays, DVDs and written medical clearance from doctors that he is ready to again play.

The 6-2, 337 pounder was a dominant force for the Beavers throughout his career and if he can prove his health, could earn a late round selection next month.

 

Posted on: March 25, 2009 10:01 pm
 

RBs Donald Brown, Shonn Greene moving up

 

 Speaking to scouts who attended the recent Pro Days at Iowa (yesterday) and Connecticut (today), it is obvious that running backs Shonn Greene and Donald Brown are moving up the board at precisely the right time.

Brown, who, of course led the country in rushing yards last season, had been impressive at the Combine, putting forth one of the best all-around performances of any running back in Indianapolis.He chose to stick with his Combine numbers today, but was especially effective catching passes out of the backfield, scouts tell me, and may have secured his position as either the 2nd or 3rd running back off the board.

Greene, on the other hand, struggled a bit at the Combine and needed a strong performance at the Iowa Pro Day to rescue his stock. While in Indianapolis, the 5-10, 227 pounder was timed at 4.62 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He dropped a tenth of a second from that time Tuesday, clocking in at 4.50-4.55 seconds according to scouts in attendance. Greene, who measured in again at 227 pounds, also increased his vertical jump from 37 to 39" inches, showing more explosiveness than many have given him credit for.

I am not as high on either back as some seem to be. I believe that both backs are significantly lesser prospects than Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells. However, with more and more teams looking for a rotational system at running back, it would not be a surprise to see either back slip into the late portion of the first round.

 

 

Posted on: March 25, 2009 6:05 pm
 

Orakpo solidifies top 10 status with Pro Day

 

 Texas' Brian Orakpo had to be characterized as a defensive end until today. Though many have projected him as an outside linebacker and he played the position a bit while with the Longhorns, he had been unable to workout as a linebacker in drills due to a pulled hamstring at the Combine.

At Wednesday's Pro Day, however, he ended all speculation about his explosiveness and ability to change directions, impressing Green Bay Packers' GM Ted Thompson and an estimated 50 other league representatives at the University of Texas.

Due to the fact that he ran many of the drills at the Combine, Orakpo elected only to do the ones scouts hadn't seen -- and perform in linebacker drills. Orakpo's 10'10" broad jump showed spectacular explosiveness. His effort would have eclipsed the numbers put forth by any defensive line or linebacker prospect in Indianapolis, including outside linebacker Aaron Curry and defensive tackle BJ Raji, the other front seven defenders expected to complete for top ten honors. Orakpo also put forth respectable times of 4.43 seconds in the 20 yard shuttle and 7.25 in the 3-cone. His times in these drills rank among the best put forth by the defensive ends and linebackers at the Combine. According to scouts attending the workout, Orakpo was even better in the actual linebacker drills, showing better agility in space than expected.

Orakpo was far and away the biggest name at the Texas Pro Day, as the 2009 class is a relatively weak one for the Longhorns. Still,  one late round diamond in the rough prospect also helped his cause with his work today.

Wide receiver Quan Cosby may be shorter (5085) and older (26) than scouts would like, but his flair for the dramatic (ask Ohio State), explosiveness (34.5" vertical) and strength (28 reps today) are certain to impress scouts. I love his size, toughness, intelligence and sticky hands as a late round slot receiver.

Thompson was one of the few "big name" general managers or coaches at the event due to the fact that many of the top league personnel are at the owners' meetings in California. Orakpo would certainly fit in nicely as a pass rushing OLB in the 3-4 defense that the Packers are implementing this year, but with his workout Wednesday, Orakpo is becoming increasingly unlikely to be available at #9. Many are projecting him to the Cleveland Browns with the 5th pick and it is becoming clear that the lowest he'll go on draft day is to the Packers at #9 or 49ers at #10.

I'll be catching up with Brian and his impressions of the Pro Day experience soon as we continue NFLDraftScout.com's 4-part journey with him in the Road to the Draft series. You can read Parts One and Two below.

Part One: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/
story/11408107

Part Two: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/
story/11515045

 

Posted on: March 25, 2009 4:06 pm
 

Draft Order Changing in 2010

 The NFL owners have voted to change the draft order -- and frankly, it is about time.

In the past, the draft order was strictly determined by wins and losses in the regular season. This will remain the case for the 20 teams that did not make the playoffs. Teams that do make the playoffs, however, will not be slotted based on how they perform in the playoffs, not their overall records.

Losers from the wild-card games will be given the 21-24 selections. Divisional round losers will be seeded with picks 25-28. Losers of the confrence championship games getting the 29th and 30th picks. The winner and loser of the Super Bowl will then, of course, receive the final two picks based on the championship game's outcome.

It always struck me as odd when teams who failed to make the playoffs were slotted to pick later in the draft than teams that had or when a team picked earlier in the April draft than the team they had beaten in the playoffs only a few months earlier.

The Philadelphia Eagles, for example, beat the Minnesota Vikings in the wildcard round of the playoffs last year. Despite the fact that the Eagles then went on to beat the Giants in the divisional round, before losing to Arizona in the NFC Championship, the Eagles (who finished with a 9-6-1 regular season record) were rewarded with the 20th pick of April's draft. The Vikings (10-6) and Giants (12-4) due to their better regular season records, have the 21st and 29th picks of the first round.

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