Posted on: March 27, 2011 1:50 pm
Over the past week, I've spoken to representatives of nearly a third of the league's teams in an effort to nail down which 32 players will hear their name called out during the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
At this point, there appears to be some consensus on roughly 25 players as first round picks. There are another 15, however, vying for those final eight spots.
We all know that Washington quarterback Jake Locker and Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith are among those players on the bubble. But there are several other players who have generated significantly less buzz but who are quietly earning serious first round consideration from some clubs.
Here are five surprising names you could wind up hearing on April 28.
(Players are listed alphabetically)
DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina : There are still plenty of teams who remain nervous about Austin's intangibles, but of the five listed here, the former UNC defensive tackle is the most talented football player. Teams are as willing to gamble on size and athleticism on the defensive line as any position in football (other than perhaps QB). If the anticipated early run on defensive linemen transpires, don't be surprised if a 4-3 team drafting in the mid 20s to low 30s gambles on Austin's upside.
QB Andy Dalton, TCU : I know of plenty of teams who grade Dalton as a late 2nd to mid 3rd round pick, but most believe he'll come off the board sooner than that. The belief among many, in fact, is that Dalton will be off the board by the mid portion of the second frame. That could push a team like Seattle to take him at No. 25 or for another club to trade back into the late portion of the first round to secure his services, similar to how Detroit traded up (with the Vikings) last year to nab running back Jahvid Best.
OC Rodney Hudson, Florida State : Florida's Mike Pouncey is getting most of the attention of draft fans and what little remains is generally being dedicated to Baylor's Danny Watkins -- at least when it comes to interior offensive linemen as possible first round picks. There do appear to be clubs with contingency plans involving Hudson, however. The former Seminole is an exceptionally safe player capable of contributing immediately.
OLB Brooks Reed, Arizona : After a rather ho-hum senior season at defensive end for the Wildcats, Reed's stock skyrocketed with a strong Senior Bowl and Combine. Add to this the fact that roughly half of the league's teams are now running a 3-4 base and this outside linebacker prospect is getting a lot of late first round attention.
DE Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh : Sheard is smaller than teams would like as a 4-3 defensive end and perhaps not quite as smooth an athlete as teams would like as a 3-4 rush linebacker. That said, I've spoken to representatives of clubs operating both alignments that feel that he could wind up a pretty solid player in either front due to Sheard's natural pass rush skills, surprising strength and high-revving motor.
Posted on: March 26, 2011 2:00 pm
With their initial Pro Day shortened due to a rain storm, the draft-eligible members of the University of Miami Hurricanes worked out for representatives of at least 20 teams Friday.
Most of the top prospects elected to stand on their Combine results, doing only positional workouts.
One exception was running back Graig Cooper , who, a league source on hand for the workout, told me was asked to run the 40-yard dash three times. Players are typically asked to run twice, but there was such a difference between Cooper's first and second attempts in the dash (4.67, 4.46 according to the scout) that Cooper was asked to run it a third time. In his third attempt Cooper was again in the 4.6s (4.66) -- similar times as the ones he put forth at the Combine (4.60-4.68).
The slow times were disappointing. Cooper did look "better in positional drills. He moves well laterally and has some burst."
Any improvement is important for Cooper, who surprisingly elected to play this season after tearing the ACL in his knee during Miami's 2009 bowl game. He was a shadow of his former self throughout much of the season, but showed improved speed and burst at the East-West Shrine Game and finished second to all running backs tested at the Combine with a 4.03 time in the short shuttle and a 6.66 second showing in the 3-cone drill. Nebraska's Roy Helu, Jr. beat Cooper by .02 seconds in the shuttle.
Cooper is not currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a draftable commodity. I, however, feel we and others are underrating him. As long as he gets a clean bill of health from NFL teams, I believe Cooper could prove a huge surprise at the next level.
Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson was characterized as "up and down" while running routes and catching passes. "He's a bit stiff as a route-runner and isn't as fast as he timed at Indy," the scout said. Hankerson, according to the scout, also "dropped a few" passes -- a problem the Miami receiver had struggled with throughout his career and the week of practice at the Senior Bowl.
Hankerson is currently the fourth rated receiver of the 2011 draft by NFLDraftScout.com.
Cornerback Brandon Harris, who some teams believe will ultimately wind up as the first of Miami's players chosen this year, was "solid, but not spectacular" in his positional drills. "Quick feet and fluid hips, but the concerns you have about him aren't going to be answered in a workout." Harris, 5-09 (1/2") and 191 pounds "loses too many battles at the critical moment" on tape.
My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I have each pegged Harris as a potential late first round pick in our current mock drafts.
Among the teams the scout said were represented at the workout were the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans.
Posted on: March 25, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2011 3:24 pm
The NFL announced today that 32 compensatory picks have been awarded to 23 teams for the 2011 draft. The complete pick-by-pick draft order can be seen here.
Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks .
The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four. The 32 compensatory choices announced today will supplement the 221 choices in the seven round draft, giving the 2011 draft 253 selections total.
Compensatory picks cannot be traded.
The Carolina Panthers, due to the free agent loss of Julius Peppers (and quarterback A.J. Feeley) was rewarded with the highest compensatory pick this year. They were given a 3rd round selection, No. 97 overall. The Panthers also received the most picks total, earning three more selections.
The Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans each received two compensatory picks.
Here are the totals:
Posted on: March 24, 2011 6:23 pm
My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I each get the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Shehadi each week as we prepare loyal CBS readers and viewers of the upcoming NFL Draft.
Chad discussed this week's Risers and Fallers, highlighting a receiver from the WAC who I'm quite high on. Among other things, Chad also explains why West Virginia safety Robert Sands left scouts a bit disappointed during his recent Pro Day workout.
Lauren and I spoke about several of the top defensive linemen in the draft. We began the conversation breaking down the differences between Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley and also why I (and more importantly scouts) were nervous about Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers before concerns about his knee.
Lauren is always kind enough to ask a question about some lower level prospects that I don't think are getting enough national attention. I mention three players (all defensive tackles) this week -- one of whom I fully expect to make the first round. The other two, however, are players that few college fans have had an opportunity to watch, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see wind up as Top 100 selections.
Posted on: March 18, 2011 1:43 pm
Prior to the Combine, there was plenty of buzz in the scouting community that New Mexico State cornerback Davon House was going to run very well in Indianapolis.
Though he did run well (4.44-4.50) there, the 6-0, 200 pound House had been expected to be among the fastest cornerbacks tested in Indianapolis and elected to run again Friday at his Pro Day, recording times in the 4.32-4.35 second range, according to a source at the scene.
House elected not to do any of the other measureable drills Friday. He was run through a positional workout by Chicago Bears' assistant defensive backs/safeties coach Gill Byrd and "did good, caught everything," according to the source.
Catching everything isn't a surprise for House. What he might lack in national name recognition, he made up for with a stellar career.
House, a four year starter for the Aggies, was a two-time First-Team All-WAC pick who leaves with 198 career tackles, along with 46 passes broken up and 11 interceptions -- three of which he returned for touchdowns.
There were approximately 15 teams on hand for the workout, according to the source, including representatives from the Chicago Bears (scout, as well as Byrd), Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills and New York Giants.
House is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 7 rated cornerback for the 2011 NFL Draft and is expected to be selected in the 2nd round.
Posted on: March 15, 2011 6:29 pm
All 32 NFL teams were on hand to see Mike Pouncey and the rest of the Florida Gators go through their Pro Day today in Gainesville.
Pouncey was the unquestioned center attraction at the event, as numerous offensive line coaches attended the event, as well as general managers (Jacksonville's Gene Smith) and head coaches (New England's Bill Belichick). The Jaguars' Andy Heck, Bears' Mike Tice, and Steelers' Sean Kugler were among the offensive line coaches in attendance.
Pouncey did not do any of the timed drills after a strong performance at the Scouting Combine, but did do 24 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press.
He also performed very well in positional drills, according to a scout on hand for the workout. The scout characterized Pouncey as "a star" and said, "He is everything you're looking for in an interior lineman. He's a carbon copy of his brother."
Mike's brother, of course, is the Steelers' Maurkice Pouncey, who earned a spot on the Pro Bowl team with a standout rookie season at center for the AFC Champions.
Pouncey, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated interior lineman , is currently projected to be the No. 22 pick in the 2011 draft by the Indianapolis Colts in my recent mock draft. My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter has him going 25th overall to the Seattle Seahawks .
This is a relatively down year of prospects for the Gators, with only two other Florida prospects being viewed as potential middle round prospects.
Another lineman, Marcus Gilbert, could make the third round. The 6-6, 330 pounder helped his cause, according to the scout with a solid performance today. A left tackle for the Gators, he projects best on the right side in the NFL.
Perhaps the player with the most on the line in today's workout was safety Ahmad Black. The diminutive Black (5-09, 184) needed a strong workout today to erase the concerns that were raised at the Combine due to disappointing times in the 40-yard dash. Black registered between 4.70-4.82 at Indianapolis and wasn't much faster in Gainesville today, unfortunately.
Scouts love his instincts and penchant for the game-changing play, but in posting another pair of 4.7s in the forty (my source had him at 4.74, 4.76), he could slip to the last two rounds of the draft.
"The kid plays fast, there's no question. But at that size and speed, it is going to be tough to convince a DB coach to get on board during [draft] meetings," the source said about Black.
Posted on: March 13, 2011 7:23 pm
Cornerback Patrick Peterson will be the unquestioned star of LSU's Pro Day Monday, but the bigger story might be which NFL representatives are on hand to watch him.
Peterson isn't expected to do anything more than his positional drills. He doesn't need to. The tape shows that he's the best player in the draft and his stellar Combine performance only provided more evidence of this fact.
It will be interesting, however, to see who shows up for the workout. The Carolina Panthers, holders of the No. 1 overall pick, demonstrated their interest in the Thorpe Award winner already by meeting with him at the Senior Bowl. Head coach Ron Rivera was a prominent spectator at Auburn's Pro Day last week and will presumabely be on hand Thursday for Blaine Gabbert's throwing session at Missouri, as well. General manager Marty Hurney, who has final say on personnel matters, was not at Newton's Pro Day, however. He reportedly attended Ryan Mallett's workout at Arkansas, instead.
So, if Hurney and Rivera are each at Peterson's (or Gabbert's) Pro Day does that necessarily mean they are higher on him? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
After all, it isn't the Carolina Panthers' fault that Auburn and Arkansas scheduled their Pro Days on the same day. There are several Pro Days at other universities conflicting with LSU's tomorrow, but none that is likely to keep the Carolina decision-makers from Peterson's workout should they feel it necessary to attend.
Moving past Carolina, another interested party that isn't getting a lot of attention could be the Cincinnati Bengals. The owners of the 4th overall pick and with far greater needs than at cornerback, the Bengals raised some eyebrows with the decision to send defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle to Nebraska's workout. NFL.com's Gil Brandt thought that by sending Coyle to the workout , the Bengals might be tipping their hand that they are very interested in Prince Amukamara. While it is important to note that the Bengals could have sent Coyle to Nebraska to see Cornhuskers' safeties Eric Hagg or Dejon Gomes, Brandt's instincts are as good as anyone's in the business -- and his sources are unmatched.
So, are the Bengals are real player in the Patrick Peterson sweepstakes, as well? It will be interesting to see if Coyle is on hand for the workout.
Posted on: March 12, 2011 8:07 pm
Louisville running back Bilal Powell's right hamstring lasted one attempt at the 40-yard dash. As it turns out, it may have been enough.
Powell is one of the draft's hottest running back prospects, coming off of a breakout senior season in which he rushed for 1,405 yards (averaging 6.1 yards a clip) and strong Senior Bowl performance. Nagging right knee and right hamstring injuries kept him from working out at the Combine, forcing 20 teams, including eight running back coaches (according to NFL.com's Gil Brandt ) to attend his Pro Day.
A source I contacted following the workout disputed that there were this many running back coaches at the Pro Day, but did note that Steve Logan, the Tampa Bay Bucs' running backs coach and that Jim Anderson, the Cincinnati Bengals' running backs coach, was among those attending the workout. He believed he'd also seen Indianapolis Colts' running backs coach David Walker there, as well.
Brandt listed Powell at 5-10 (1/2) and 207 pounds and being clocked at 4.54 in his first attempt at the 40-yard dash. My source clocked him at 4.50.
Powell pulled his troublesome right hamstring on his second attempt, ending his day early.
Depending on the extent of his new injury, Powell and his representatives may elect to schedule a third workout. With most teams dedicating the final few weeks before the April 28 draft to meetings, however, they are running out of time.
Powell's spectacular 2010 season would serve as plenty of proof for some teams that he has the goods. Considering that he has only one standout season, however, most clubs want more information on him before investing anything more than a third day draft pick. After all, Powell rushed for "only" 933 yards in his three previous seasons, including a then-career high 392 yards (including a 3.6 yard-per-carry average) as a junior.
NFLDraftScout.com rates Powell as the No. 12 running back in the 2011 draft and a 4th round value.