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.

Posted on: March 25, 2009 3:42 pm
 

Kubiak slams door on Houston going offense in 1st

Considering the Texans' search for a bigger back to pair with second year runner Steve Slaton netted nothing in free agency, some (including me) have suggested that the club might consider adding a Chris "Beanie" Wells should he be available at pick #15.

Though head coach Gary Kubiak agreed that "...obviously, finding a complement to Steve (Slaton) is important," he also essentially shut the door on that complement coming via the first round in a conversation with media at the Owners' Meetings in Dana Point, California this week.

“Our first-round pick has to have a big impact on our team. The more the first-round pick
continues to be an impact player, the better we’re going to get. We could still use an
impact player at linebacker and on the backend (but), we’d be hard-pressed to take a
receiver or a running back in the first round.”

The Texans are thought to be interested in several linebackers likely to be available with the 15th pick, including USC's duo of Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews Jr.
Posted on: March 24, 2009 5:10 pm
 

Hakeem Nicks Gained 14 pounds in a month

 

 Hakeem Nicks measured in at a shade under 6-1, 212 pounds at the Combine, but weighed 14 pounds more last week at North Carolina's Pro Day.

As a guy who is known to pack on a pound or two, myself, adding an average of a pound every two days generally requires putting in some serious time at the buffet line.

Players in the past have spoken about how traveling through several private workouts in the two months between the Combine and the draft, itself, can wreak havoc on their bodies. Many of the players have found it difficult to find time to workout and eat with an eye towards nutrition when skipping across the country. With Nicks, however, that hasn't been the problem. The hamstring injury that kept him out of the many of the drills at the Combine, left him unable to workout as much as he'd like...

Considering the number of talented receivers fighting to make the first round, the rapid weight gain by Nicks will not go unnoticed by NFL scouts and could lead to a drop out of the top 32...

 

 

Category: NFL
Posted on: March 24, 2009 3:48 pm
 

Mangini alluding to Orakpo at Owners' Meetings?

 

 New Cleveland head coach Eric Mangini spoke to the media at the Owners' Meetings this week and was asked questions about how to project a 4-3 defensive end to the 3-4 rush linebacker position. Many are projecting that the Browns, who finished last season tied for 31st in the NFL with only 17 sacks, will take Texas pass rusher Brian Orakpo.

Though Mangini is careful not to mention any player by name, his description of what he looks for reads like Orakpo's list of strengths.

"You'd like to be able to see on tape some ability to drop, whether it was in zone blitzes, whether it was peeling in coverage.
Like sometimes they'll have the end peel if the guy runs a wide route. You'd like to see some element of that. You' like to see how
stout they are at the point of attack and Athen try to project that to being in a two-point as opposed to a three-point stance. Big part
of that, too, is talking to the player and understanding what or being able to project that they can take that information …
Can they go from a stagnant position where they're getting calls to a position where the call can change two or three
times before the ball is even snapped. Fluidness in their hips, so you can see whether they can drop. I think all those things are key
elements."

Orakpo lined up at outside linebacker at times over the past two seasons when the Longhorns used a 3-4 scheme. In the second of
the four-part series I'm writing about Orakpo's Road to the NFL, he told me that the Browns, and coach Mangini, specifically, asked him
about the different responsibilities of the linebacker positions...

The quote is a far cry from acknowleding that the team is going to take Orakpo with the 5th pick, but considering the specifics of
Mangini's answer and the specific traits which separate Orakpo from some of the other top-rated pass rushers of this draft like Everette
Brown and Aaron Maybin, it may be further evidence of which direction the Browns are currently leaning...
Posted on: March 23, 2009 7:42 pm
 

Britt Impressive at Rutgers Pro Day

 

 Forty one representatives from 27 NFL teams were on hand at the Rutgers Pro Day Monday. As many as five different Scarlet Knights could be drafted one month from now, as head coach Greg Schiano and his staff have done a terrific job of building this program.

Like LSU and other top flight programs, Rutgers has taken the step of inviting media into workouts and releasing the results of the workouts online. You too can see the actual results in a PDF format by following the link provided below.

Junior wide receiver Kenny Britt was the headliner of the bunch, though all told, 11 members of last year's Rutgers' program worked out for scouts.

The 6-3, 210 pound Britt was clocked as fast a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash, though league representatives on hand reported that they clocked him at 4.46 seconds. Senior receiver Tiquan Underwood was even faster, timing between 4.36-4.41 according to the watches of scouts. Both receivers ran well in drills and caught the ball cleanly.

Two sleepers to keep an eye on for the second day of the draft (or perhaps even free agency) that helped their stock were linebacker Kevin Malast, who ran in the 4.6s at 236 pounds and quarterback Mike Teel. Teel didn't wow with his athleticism, but threw the ball well enough to encourage teams who were intrigued by his stellar play over the second half of the 2008 season. Neither Malast nor Teel were invited to the Combine, so their performances Monday were critical in earning consideration for the next level.

This is the link to the full results from the Rutgers Pro Day:  http://scarletknights.com/football/
news/release.asp?prID=7607

 

 

Posted on: March 23, 2009 7:20 pm
 

Wake Forest Pro Day

 

 All 32 teams were represented at Monday's Pro Day, though the two Demon Deacon headliners -- LB Aaron Curry and CB Alphonso Smith -- chose to stand on their Combine performances and only did positional drills.

Curry electing not to workout wasn't a surprise, as he was arguably the most impressive athlete in Indianapolis. According to those in attendance, Curry was impressive, as expected, in linebacker drills.

Alphonso Smith, on the other, hand surprised some scouts who thought he'd try to prove faster than the pair of electronically timed 4.57s he ran at the Combine. Smith is an established ballhawk, who leaves Wake Forest as the ACC's career leader with 21 interceptions, but the combination of question speed and Smith's height (5-9 exactly) is likely to be enough to push him right out of the first round.

I'm still waiting from some of the scouts who attended the workout to fill me in the details of the other players that worked out Monday. While Curry and Smith are unquestionably the two highest rated players representing Wake Forest, there are several other sleeper candidates to keep an eye on, including inside linebacker Stanley Arnoux, safety Chip Vaughn and receiver DJ Boldin, whose older brother is Arizona standout, Anquan Boldin.

Though I hope to provide more details from the workout earlier, the most intimate details from the Pro Day will come in the next installment of the four-part series I'm writing detailing Aaron Curry's Road to the Draft. I will be interviewing Curry this week on his Pro Day experience and what he is looking forward to the most with his several upcoming private workouts.

 

You can read Part One and Two by copying and pasting the following URLs into your browser.

Part One (Curry's training and preparation for the Combine) here: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/
story/11399393

Part Two (Curry's post-combine thoughts and prep for the Pro Day) here: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/
story/11487766

Posted on: March 23, 2009 11:27 am
 

Lions negotiating with potential #1 picks?

 

 As is often the case this time of the year, there are rumors flowing through scouting circles that the Lions have begun negotiations with several different players in the hopes of finalizing a contract well before the opening pick is made on April 25th.

KFFL is reporting that the Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith will be the first pick.

At the same time, there are other rumors via league sources that Virginia left tackle Eugene Monroe, Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford and USC quarterback Mark Sanchez's representatives have been contacted. Jason Smith and Matt Stafford are represented by the power firm CAA. Eugene Monroe is represented by a virtual unknown in the business, Sanat "Sunny" Shah. Mark Sanchez is represented by his brother, Nick Sanchez.

Detroit Lions' president told Tom Kowalski of MLive.com that:

“We have to have robust dialogue with the agents of the players we’re interested in. We’ve started that process and we’ve made it very clear to all of them that we have to have that as this month draws to a close.”

 

 

 

 

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