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:

Part Two (Curry's post-combine thoughts and prep for the Pro Day) here:

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 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.”





Posted on: March 21, 2009 4:12 pm

Barden impressive, but Jarron Gilbert more so...


 Cal Poly wideout Ramses Barden is getting most of the media attention due to another solid peformance, but the word among scouts is that Spartans' defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert was the most impressive player at the San Jose State-Cal Poly-etc. Pro Day that occurred Friday.

Twenty seven teams were represented at the workout, including head coaches Rex Ryan of the New York Jets and John Fox of the Carolina Panthers.

Gilbert was the most impressive of the bunch, turning in a 4.76 40-yard dash at 6-5, 284 pounds. He also improved upon his already impressive Combine performances in the broad jump (10'7"), vertical (37"), short shuttle (4.40) and 3-cone (7.59).

Typically, the collegiate coaches or scouts will put the players through the workouts. This workout was different, however, as Ryan took over the DL drills and worked Gilbert especially hard. Gilbert would seem to be a perfect fit in the Jets' 3-4 scheme at defensive end. The Jets will have plenty of competition in landing Gilbert's services, however, as he's lined up several private workouts already, including: Detroit, Dallas, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, San Diego, and Atlanta. 

Cal Poly wideout Ramses Barden was impressive, generating interest from several teams later in the workout. Fox seemed quite interested. The 6-6, 227 pound receiver looked fluid in drills and was timed in the 4.50-4.56 range in the 40-yard dash.

Watch out for San Jose State cornerbacks Coye Francies and Christopher Owens, two players I've mentioned repeatedly in Rang's Gang and Diamond in the Rough articles. Francies again was disappointing in the 40-yard dash, running in the 4.59-4.65 range, though it was obvious to those in attendance that he was gutting it out with a sprained ankle or other lower leg injury. He has good agility, however, and not only showed on film that he can play, but was among the more impressive corners at the Senior Bowl.

Christopher Owens, on the other hand, looked great in drills. Fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter pointed out that Owens looked good in a previous writeup from the Texas vs. Nation game and he also helped himself at the Combine, but Friday, Owens (5-10, 177) was even better, clocking in at a 4.40 and showcasing better explosiveness out of his broad jump (10') and vertical (35").

Posted on: March 21, 2009 3:53 pm

Colts only team at Nate Davis' Pro Day

I've been pretty vocal in my opinion about Ball State junior quarterback Nate Davis. I believe he is among the best deep-ball passers of this draft and a legitimate starter candidate if he is given time to sit on the bench and develop in a more pro-style offense.

Apparently, however, NFL scouts are starting to question Davis' ability, as only one team -- the Indianapolis Colts -- were represented at Davis' Pro Day Friday.Perhaps teams were comfortable enough with the fact that Davis threw -- and, in my opinion at least, threw well -- at the Combine already.

Davis, for what it is worth, again threw the ball well, completing 61 of the 70 passes he threw in a workout orchestrated by former NFL quarterback, turned QB guru Steve DeBerg. Not surprisingly, Davis was at his best throwing deep passes. Of the 9 incompletions, 5 were drops by his receivers.

There are certainly concerns with Davis. His lack of height and well-publicized learning disability are chief among them. I generally believe the Wonderlic is an overrated component of grading prospects, but at quarterback, it is important. Should Davis have scored poorly on the test (as is rumored), I can understand why he might be dropping. I was not particularly impressed by Davis during the interview process at the Combine and do not anticipate that teams were either.

However, considering the lack of talent among this year's quarterback class and the lengthy careers of past quarterbacks whose greatest asset was the long ball (Jeff Blake, anyone?) Davis remains a quality mid-round prospect with significant upside.

The film doesn't lie. Davis can play.




Posted on: March 21, 2009 1:56 am

Cornerback DJ Moore Better at WR?


 An estimated 20 teams attended the Vanderbilt Pro Day with the hope that cornerback D.J. Moore, who left after his junior season would improve upon his disappointing Combine time of 4.59 and 4.60 seconds (electronically timed). Unfortunately, he only ran slightly faster Friday at the Vanderbilt Pro Day, registering 4.55-4.61 -- and that was with a breeze behind him.

The 5'09, 197 pound Moore has eye-popping athleticism and was considered by many to be the top cornerback in the SEC. The questions about his straightline speed have led to quite a few scouts to wonder if the quick and secure-handed Moore could make the transition to receiver. Moore had 12 interceptions over the past two seasons at Vanderbilt and has rare hand-eye coordination for a cornerback, turning 13 of his 18 career passes defended into turnovers. Moore also proved to be one of the nation's best punt returners while at Vanderbilt, averaging 14.35 yards on 17 returns.Unlike many of the top-ranked returners, Moore's success is not a typical all-or-nothing returner. His average in 2008 is due to the fact that he consistently made the first defender miss and squirted his way through for 10+ yards consistently, rather than breaking one 90 yard touchdown, but averaging 5 yards per return otherwise.

Also, he is no stranger to the receiver position, having manned the spot several times over his career with the Commodores.

Don't let Moore's poor times in the 40-yard dash fool you, he's a talented athlete well worth Top 50 consideration -- it just may not be at the position he typically started at while with the Commodores.

Category: NFL
Posted on: March 19, 2009 5:29 pm

Chase Coffman Unable to workout today


 Tight end Chase Coffman had told scouts previously that he expected to be ready to work out at Missouri's second Pro Day today, after having missed the Senior Bowl, Combine and Missouri's initial Pro Day (March 5th) due to a fractured left foot. 

Coffman does not feel he is back to 100% yet, however, and further pushed off his workout for scouts.

Though it would appear that Coffman has plenty of time to schedule another Pro Day workout (as the draft is still more than 5 weeks away), the reality is, teams hunker down over the final few weeks to set up their draft boards and only rarely are willing to get back on the road once to attend workouts once the draft meetings begin in early April.

Few colleges, in fact, schedule Pro Day workouts later than April 1st...

If Coffman -- who I, personally, believe to be one of this year's best overall tight end prospects isn't able to work out for scouts prior to the draft, he could slip into the middle rounds.When healthy, I believe Coffman is at worst a second round talent.

Posted on: March 19, 2009 3:51 pm

Cincinnati Pro Day results coming in...


 Despite all of the attention being heaped upon the Georgia Pro Day,  28 of the 32 NFL teams were still represented at the Cincinnati workout today, mostly to see cornerback Mike Mickens and Mr. Versatility Connor Barwin.

Mickens, an All-American, was unable to workout at the Combine due to a left knee injury that sidelined him for a few games this season and hampered him enough at the Senior Bowl that he was forced to leave early. He was only cleared to run three weeks ago and estimated himself at 85%, but still put up respectable numbers in the 40-yard dash (4.53-4.59), short shuttle (4.19), 3-cone (6.96), broad jump (9'-4", 9'-10") and vertical (35.5"). Mickens, when healthy, is among the better cornerbacks in the 2009 draft and a second round talent. How teams view his recovery from the injury, however, will be critical in determining his final grade. 

Connor Barwin will continue to skyrocket up draft boards with another impressive performance. Barwin, a former tight end who switched to defensive end, may ultimately be making the transition to linebacker, considering the eye-popping workouts he's produced at the Combine and now at his Pro Day. Barwin produced two of the more eye-popping results of the defensive ends at the Combine with a 4.66 electronically-timed 40-yard dash and a 40.5" vertical jump. He was even faster Wednesday, posting times ranging from 4.48-4.57, according to those in attendance. He also lifted the bar 23 times and looked good in linebacker, tight end and defensive line drills...

Posted on: March 19, 2009 3:28 pm

Stafford "helped himself today."


The Georgia Pro Day is wrapping up and the word out of Athens is that Matt Stafford helped his cause to be the first pick of the 2009 draft with a strong showing.

I just got off the phone with a scout from a team selecting in the first half of the draft who indicated that Stafford was "pretty much on throughout the entire workout" and "handled the pressure well."

Stafford threw for approximately 10-15 minutes, completing a variety of throws. His arm strength was obvious to all those attending the workout, but Stafford impressed scouts most with his accuracy, touch and better mobility than he's often given credit for.

The scout still thought it was likely the Lions would be considering one of the two tackles (Baylor's Jason Smith or Virginia's Eugene Monroe) with the first pick, but thought that Stafford "helped himself today."

The workout was especially important because Stafford, like Matt Ryan last year and many high-ranking quarterbacks of the past, elected not to work out at the Combine. He has scheduled several private workouts with teams already, with the Lions among them.



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