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Tag:Huskies
Posted on: March 8, 2012 7:35 pm
 

RB Polk measures in lighter, faster at UW Pro Day

Seattle -- A year ago it was quarterback Jake Locker whose impressive Pro Day workout at the University of Washington served as a springboard from which he boosted his mercurial stock all the way to the No. 8 pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

This year it is running back Chris Polk who likely boosted his stock with scouts with an impressive all-around performance Thursday in front of scouts and position coaches from roughly half of the teams in the NFL. Ironically enough, he did so with Locker watching, as the Titans' 2011 first round pick returned to Washington to throw passes to Polk, wide receivers Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar and fullback Dorson Boyce.

Polk measured in at 5-10 (1/2) and 212 pounds, three pounds lighter than he'd weighed at the Combine and 12 pounds lighter than he was at the Senior Bowl. The loss of weight was noticeable in the running back's time in the 40-yard dash and his explosiveness in positional drills. Polk was credited with an "official" 4.57 second time at the Combine but came in at between 4.45-4.49 in his first attempt and 4.48-4.51 in his second. Polk also posted 16 reps on the bench press. He caught passes out of the backfield, demonstrating the soft, reliable hands and route-running ability that I believe is his most underrated quality and why the Washington running back remains in the hunt (along with Boise State's Doug Martin, Virginia Tech's David Wilson and Miami's Lamar Miller) to be the second back selected in the 2012 draft. Only Alabama's Trent Richardson, the consensus top-rated back, is viewed as a surefire first round pick.  

While Polk was the big name, the three other Washington players invited to participate in the Scouting Combine this year each worked out again for scouts Thursday.

The Cincinnati Bengals thought enough of defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu to send their defensive line coach Jay Hayes to work out the big (6-2, 347) run-stuffer personally. Ta'amu has surprisingly light feet for a man of his size and scouts on hand seemed pleased with his performance in the shuttle and three-cone drills. 

Similarly, Seattle Seahawks' assistant offensive line coach Pat Ruel worked out Senio Kelemete (6-3 1/2, 309). Kelemete started his final two seasons for the Huskies at left tackle but is viewed by most as a better fit inside at guard. Kelemete looked good at 309 pounds after playing closer to 290 this season, showing the balance, quick feet and improved power (25 reps today after 21 at the Combine) to handle the transition. 

Kearse enjoyed a strong workout, as well, clocking in much faster today (4.44) than he did at the Combine (4.58) and catching every pass that I saw touch his hands. He and Locker didn't connect on a couple of deeper throws, including on a post-corner in which NFL personnel were overhead chiding Kearse for not getting his head around quickly enough to locate the ball.

One Husky who likely caught the attention of scouts with a stellar 40-yard dash time was cornerback Quinton Richardson. Not invited to the Combine, Richardson was the fastest of the players tested Thursday, recording times in the mid 4.3s. Richardson had looked like a potential draftable commodity after a strong junior season but struggled with inconsistency as a senior. Clearly, he has the speed to warant further investigation.

Media members were partioned off from the actual workout and the results of timed drills was not made readily available. 

I saw representatives of the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the workout.          

Posted on: June 2, 2011 8:50 pm
 

UConn WR Smith academically ineligible

New UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni confirmed that senior wide receiver Mike Smith is academically ineligible to play in 2011. Although Smith led the Huskies with 46 catches for 615 yards and two touchdowns last season, don't expect him to throw his name into the hat for the NFL supplemental draft - which is likely to be held in July.

Smith is not currently rated among the draftable wide receiver prospects for 2012 by NFLDraftScout.com. The 13-game starter in 2010 is 6-feet-2 and 202 pounds, and can consider 2011 a redshirt season since he played as a true freshman. The Houston native is expected to stick around the Huskies' program.

"Michael will be, obviously in the program," Pasqualoni said, per The Hartford Courant. "He will be in practice each day. He just will not participate in games.

"I do think this is a year that he can use to improve himself all the way around and then still have a final year of eligibility.

--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com executive editor
Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 7:41 pm
 

NFL's PR play will create awkward draft viewing

The public relations digs from both sides in the labor dispute have hit full tilt since the lockout began, with neither side wanting to miss an opportunity to win additional public sentiment.

You can almost feel the NFL and the players looking at the invisible pendulumn swinging and just waiting for an opportunity to push gravity in their favor.

The NFLPA immediately retreated amid strong backlash when word leaked out that the union would encourage prospects invited to the draft to skip the event at Radio City Music Hall and instead attend union-sponsored events in NYC.

Sensing the momentum, the NFL is going to squeeze every ounce of PR juice out of the door opened by the NFLPA's slip up. The league announced that a record 25 prospects have accepted invitations to attend Thursday night's first round festivities in primetime.

That's not including several who were invited but have chosen to stay home to watch the first round with their families, including quarterbacks Jake Locker and Colin Kaepernick. But it does include a host of players considered fringe first-round prospects by NFLDraftScout.com.

It could make for an uncomfortable scene late in the stanza as 5-6 prospects will likely be sitting in the "green room" as commentators discuss what a great value they'll make 24 hours later. Among those could be Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, UCLA S Rahim Moore, Baylor NT Phil Taylor, Baylor OL Danny Watkins and Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams. And a few others could slide into the category as the night wears on.

Boston College LB Mark Herzlich will also be in attendance, but the cancer survivor has an inspirational story and isn't expected to be selected until at least the middle rounds (he's projected as a sixth-round value by NFLDraftScout.com.

Update: The NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported that Herzlich will be announced with the others and take part in a group photo, but then will be allowed to stay as long as he likes or leave to be with friends and family. That's a sensible approach for a compelling prospect who likely won't hear his name called until Saturday - if at all.

--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor
Posted on: December 5, 2010 1:44 pm
 

With one pass, Locker's stock steadies

I have been as critictal of Washington quarterback Jake Locker's struggles as anyone. He entered this season as a prohibitive favorite to be the first senior selected in the 2011 draft and now I do not currently project him among the Top 32 in my first round mock draft.

Part of the reason for Locker's downfall has been the expectations placed upon him after what appeared to be a breakout junior season under Steve Sarkisian. Locker made such strides in his first season under Sarkisian that it was natural to believe he'd make similar gains year two.

It hasn't happened. Locker is still too often fooled by coverages and is highly inconsistent with his accuracy. Those two facts, regardless of how athletic a quarterback might be, have historically translated into struggles at the NFL level.

Scouts can't just write off Locker as a project, however.  That's because, as he again demonstrated last night in a thrilling Apple Cup victory over state rival Washington State, Locker has shown the ability to make accurate throws when the pressure is highest.

Now, let's be clear. Locker was bad -- not just bad, abysmal - in home losses this season to Nebraska and Stanford, the two best defenses he faced all season long. Considering the expectations placed on him, one could argue those two games were the ones he faced the most "pressure" and therefore my argument doesn't appear to hold water.

However, anyone who has watched the Huskies play this season knows about the struggles they've had on the offensive line. This isn't an excuse for Locker. Washington has started a staggering six different lineups along the offensive line. Teams with physical defensive lines -- like Nebraska and Stanford -- have so thoroughly dominated UW up front that Locker had no chance.

Rather, by "pressure," I mean that Locker has been able to make accurate throws when the game is on the line. He's demonstrated this ability often after he's been average (or worse) throughout much of the rest of the game. It is a big reason why, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes, four of Washington's six victories this season have come in the "final minute or in their last possession of the game ."

Locker demonstrated this ability to make legitimate NFL throws in critical moments in Washington's upsets over USC and Cal each of the past two years and the win over Washington State last night. Folks, that may not sound like many games, but when you've been as bad as Washington has been (Duke and Baylor are the only BCS teams with a longer bowl game drought), there haven't been many opportunities to scout Locker in "pressure" situations.

Again, don't get me wrong. Locker was fair from great last night. It was the Huskies' redshirt sophomore running back Chris Polk who won this game. His jaw-dropping 284 rushing yards and two touchdowns made life much easier on Locker and will be a featured component Monday in my Weekly Rewind feature . Locker, in fact, wasn't even the best quarterback on the field last night. The Cougars' sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel was spectacular, providing ample evidence that WSU head coach Paul Wulff is doing an admirable job of turning around WSU's program.

But, on the 4th quarter drive to earn a bowl game or end his collegiate career, Locker threw a perfect 27-yard fade to Jermaine Kearse with 44 seconds left to win it. Peyton Manning doesn't throw that pass with better touch, timing or placement than Locker did on that critical play. Here is the link to watch the throw.

And that, in a nutshell, is why Jake Locker is the most frustrating quarterback I've ever scouted. He made some of the same errors in this game that he's made throughout his career. In calling for eight consecutive running plays (six by Polk, two by Locker) on that final drive, scouts are left to wonder whether Sarkisian simply trusted his running game or didn't trust Locker's passing to put the Huskies in position to kick the game-winning field goal.

But, when the play was called to go for the throat, Locker delivered. As Football Outsiders and Sports Press Northwest's writer Doug Farrar noted on Twitter , "That's the throw they're going to show through the entire pre-draft process when everyone's debating Locker's NFL QB ability."

With that one throw, Locker again proved that he can make accurate throws in critical moments. I, like A LOT of scouts I speak to, am not convinced that Locker will ever get past his struggles reading coverage or inconsistent ball placement and be a successful NFL quarterback.

But throws like that one - in moments like that one - provide the evidence that perhaps he can.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com