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Tag:Sean Richardson
Posted on: February 29, 2012 4:08 pm
 

Wise to be wary of these workout warriors

You've heard it all before... Every team in the league has at one time or another answered a question about workout results from the Combine with something along the lines of, "We don't draft players based on the Combine. What happens on the field is most important." 

Because what happens on the field is most important when determining how a prospect is likely to play at the next level, I'm highlighting five prospects whose film doesn't jive with the size, strength, speed or overall athleticism they showed at the Combine.

Call these players "workout warriors." Refer to it as "manufactured speed." Characterize it as "weight room strength that doesn't translate onto the field." Call it whatever you like. Just don't get too caught up on these prospects rising up charts despite posting some of the more impressive workouts of the 2012 Scouting Combine.

OLB Zach Brown, North Carolina: Well known in the scouting community for his jaw-dropping athleticism, it came as no surprise that Brown proved one of the fastest pound-for-pound athletes tested this year at the Combine. While he clocked in at 4.50 "officially" at the Combine and in the mid 4.4s from others sitting in the stands, don't let his timed speed fool you. Brown doesn't locate the football as quickly as most teams would like and is a passive "chase" linebacker who consistently runs around blocks rather than fighting through them. More than one scout has compared Brown's "instincts" to that of former No. 4 overall pick Aaron Curry. That's no compliment.  

TE Coby Fleener, Stanford: By posting 27 repetitions of 225 pounds Fleener would have tied for the lead among all tight ends tested at the Combine in 2011 and finished tied for second (behind Georgia's Orson Charles' 35 reps) this year. The gaudy totals might have you thinking that Fleener is a physical blocker. He's not. He's actually a bit of a finesse player whose size and speed make him arguably the tight end in this draft likeliest to earn comparisons to New Orleans' star Jimmy Graham. Fleener is an intriguing talent but don't let the bench press numbers fool you into thinking teams will rest easy with his in-line blocking strength or tenacity.  

WR A.J. Jenkins, Illinois: Unlike some of the others on this list, Jenkins was very productive in college. He led the Big 10 with 90 receptions as a senior, earning First Team All-conference honors. He runs well and shows good fluidity and balance as a route-runner on the field but isn't the big-play blazer that his 4.39 second time in the 40-yard dash would suggest. 

DE/OLB Nick Perry, Southern Cal: Perry worked out with the defensive linemen and ranked among the position's best in speed (4.64), power (35 reps) and explosiveness (38.5" vertical), turning in as impressive of an all-around performance at the Combine as anyone, regardless of position. He's on my Big Board so I believe he warrants first round consideration, but he isn't as dominant on the field as his lofty numbers in these traits might lead you to believe. Too many of his 9.5 sacks in 2011, in fact, were of the coverage variety. 

S Sean Richardson, Vanderbilt: Richardson may have enjoyed the most impressive all-around workout by any safety tested in Indianapolis but the tape shows a player who doesn't play with the desired read-and-react skills and ball skills most teams are looking for as the last line of defense. 

Posted on: February 28, 2012 3:13 pm
 

Below average safety crop exposed running 40s

With Alabama's Mark Barron the only player at his position considered by most talent evaluators to be worthy of first round consideration, it isn't news that the 2012 draft offers only a mediocre crop of safety prospects. 

The timing couldn't be much worse for NFL teams needing help at the position as the 2011 season was characterized by the emergence of several tight ends as legitimate downfield threats and the continued expansion of three and four receiver spread attacks. To combat the aerial onslaught, defenses are looking for big, athletic safeties.

The safeties were the final prospects to run the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine but with only a few exceptions they weren't able to reward scouts for their patience. In fact, of the 21 safeties invited to the Combine this year, zero recorded a time under 4.50 seconds. Worse, of the strong and free safeties given a top 125 grade by NFLDraftScout.com prior to the Combine, only Notre Dame's Harrison Smith (4.57) recorded a time under 4.66. 

South Carolina State's Christian Thompson just missed the mark, clocking in at exactly 4.50 according to the "official" times released by the NFL. And while the fast time certainly helps legitimize Thompson's athleticism, considering his low level of competition and inconsistent play over his career, frankly he may have needed the workout if he is to generate anything more than mid to late Day Three consideration. 

Similarly, scouts expected to see Vanderbilt's Sean Richardson work out well and he did -- enjoying the best all-around performance of any safety with a 4.52 time in the 40-yard dash, as well as demonstrating power (22 repetitions of 225 pounds) and explosiveness (38.5" vertical, 128" broad jump) but the concerns about him are about his agility, instincts and ball-skills. Richardson had just one interception in 49 career games, including 31 consecutive starts to finish his career. 

Barron was unable to work out due to his recovery from hernia surgery performed after the season. Teams looking for immediate safety help may have to either reach to take him or hope one of the bigger, more instinctive and physical cornerbacks of the 2012 class can make the adjustment to safety as an NFL rookie. 

Somewhere Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and a host of other receiving specialist tight ends are smiling... 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com