Category:NFL Draft
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: March 8, 2012 6:57 pm
 

Crick flexes muscle at Nebraska pro day

   NFLDraftScout.com's fifth-ranked defensive end Jared Crick of Nebraska, who missed most of last season because of a torn pectoral muscle that ended his season in October, proved to scouts he's fully recovered from the injury by pushing up 26 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press.
   Crick, who is ranked 54th overall but has a chance to be drafted higher because of his scheme versatility and impressive production, first climbed onto the draft radar as a sidekick of Ndamukong Suh. But in 2010, with Suh in his rookie season with the Lions, Crick had a standout season. 
   He has shorter arms than ideal for a true power end in a 4-3 scheme, but his lower-body power, agility and hand use make him attractive as a slanting 4-3 defensive tackle or 3-4 defensive end.
   The star of the pro day was RB Marcus Mendoza (5-10, 190), who posted a reported 4.37 40, 45 1/2-inch vertical and 11-1 broad jump. If the vertical proves true, it's beats the best number put up at the 2012 Combine (43.5).  
Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: March 8, 2012 10:51 am
Edited on: March 8, 2012 2:55 pm
 

Thompson turning heads at Clemson Pro Day

Brandon Thompson arrived at Clemson with potential. But not much strength.

As a true freshman, Thompson was asked to perform a strength test -- pushing up 225 pounds on the bench press. He completed 13, with some degree of strain to get there.

"His development strength-wise is incredible," said coach Dabo Swinney.

Thompson, a standout defensive tackle in the ACC, is considered a fringe first-round pick as he leaves Clemson four years later. In his most recent strength test at the Scouting Combine, he did 35 reps. He also had a 9-feet, 7-inch broad jump at 6-2, 315 pounds on Thursday before he posted an unofficial time of 5.0 and 5.12 in the 40-yard dash.

"He's a great football player, a great individual," Swinney said. "As a player -- you can't move him. He loves to practice. He does it the right way. He's going to have a great NFL career."

Clemson has had 25 players make NFL rosters since Swinney arrived. Defensive end Andre Branch and Thompson could be first-round picks in 2012.

Swinney said several teams have asked him about Branch's ability to play the traditional defensive end spot and if he could cover as an outside linebacker in 3-4 and 4-3 defenses.

Of the teams represented at Clemson's Thursday Pro Day, the New York Jets sent head coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

At least 29 NFL teams were accounted for, according to Clemson.

Marc Ross, the New York Giants' director of college scouting, was also in attendance.

We'll be posting more on Clemson's Pro Day as we get updates. Keep the blog refreshed as today is a busy one for Pro Day workouts with Miami, Mississippi State, Nebraska and Washington among the universities with prominent NFL prospects expected to work out today. Keeping track of all of this year's Pro Days? Check out this link.     

Posted on: March 8, 2012 10:26 am
 

WR Toon highlights "impressive" Wisconsin Pro Day

Senior wide receiver Nick Toon shaved more than a tenth of a second off of the 4.54 second time he had posted at the Scouting Combine, ran crisp routes and plucked the ball out of the air easily, highlighting what one veteran NFL scout called an "impressive group overall" at the Wisconsin Pro Day. 

The 6-2, 215 pound Toon was clocked at 4.43 seconds Wednesday. The improved time is important as average straight-line speed is considered to be Toon's biggest shorting. He also improved upon his vertical jump (39") from the Combine (37.5) and registered a 10'10" broad jump, as well. Toon is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a 3rd round prospect and the No. 100 player on our board, overall.

Toon was hardly the only Wisconsin standout to enjoy a strong day. 

Quarterback Russell Wilson not only completed 59 of 63 passes, according to Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal, he also improved on the one element that scouts question the most -- his height. 

After being measured at 5-11 even at the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine, Wilson inexplicably came in 3/8 of an inch taller at the Pro Day. Conspiracy theorists know this, pro scouts are the ones doing the measuring at each event. 

Wilson, according to the scout, was poised throughout the workout and demonstrated "the same touch and arm strength we'd all seen on tape -- whether here [at Wisconsin] or before [at North Carolina State]."

“He’s a very impressive fellow,” Green Bay Packers' general manager Ted Thompson said of Wilson, “articulate, knowledgeable, confident, and he projects that confidence. He’s going to be a good get for somebody.”  Wilson is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 10 quarterback. His size is the biggest factor keeping outside of the top five at the position and thus a team willing to cater their offense around his ability to throw on the run could grade him significantly higher.

While the skill position players got most of the buzz, scouts believe the Wisconsin tradition of producing quality offensive linemen could be proven yet again with one or two Badger blockers the first players drafted from the school in 2012.

Offensive guard Kevin Zeitler was "efficient and powerful" during positional drills. Junior Peter Konz was unable to fully participate due to the fact that he's still recovering from the dislocated ankle that sidelined him for much of the second half of the regular season in 2011. He did do the snapping to Wilson in drills, however. Scouts like Konz's size and mobility enough that some view him as possible convert to guard or even right tackle in the NFL. More than a few scouts are concerned with a lack of ideal strength shown during the bench press drill at the Combine, where Konz lifted the bar "only" 18 times. Zeitler, by comparison, had 32 reps.

One relatively unheralded prospect that caught the scout's eye Wednesday was defensive lineman Louis Nzegwu. Nzegwu didn't take the step up as a senior some had expected after emerging in his junior season with 46 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Though his sack total increased (4.5), Nzegwu's tackles (34) and tackles for loss (six) dropped and he wasn't invited to the Combine. Measuring in at 6-3, 254 pounds, he demonstrated "some wow athleticism" by being clocked at 4.57 seconds in the 40-yard dash and recording a 41.5" vertical jump. Nzegwu is currently rated as a free agent prospect by NFLDraftScout.com but his athleticism certainly warrants scouts taking a closer look.
  

Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:04 pm
 

Stars sit out USC ProDay; Armstead makes NFL jump

LOS ANGELES -- USC's biggest stars did not do a lot of work at Pro Day on Wednesday but there was no lack of drama.

Offensive tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry, ranked in NFLDraftScout.com's top 32 with Kalil in the top five of Rob Rang's Big Board, did some position drills but did not replicate any of their NFL combine work because they were pleased with their initial results.

"These drills come easy to me," said Kalil, who is projected to be the third pick in the NFL draft. "It's cool to look at (mock drafts). But anything can happen on draft day."

Kalil (6-foot-6 5/8, 308 pounds) said he would take USC coach Lane Kiffin to New York as a guest for the NFL draft in April, when he'll be one of the dozen or so prospects in attendance at the Thursday primetime event.

"Coach Kiffin did a lot for me," he said. "He will be in the green room with me."

Perry, who weighed 270 pounds, said he "could have done better" on some of his position drills but was pleased overall, especially combined with his combine results. He is projected to be a first-round pick.

"I get asked a lot by NFL teams about certain schemes because everyone wants to know if I can also play in a 3-4 (defense)," Perry said. "It's good to be in the conversation (for the first round)."

USC defensive tackle Armond Armstead was not as fortunate.

He was informed by the school Tuesday night that university attorneys would not allow him to participate in Pro Day because of liability issues.

USC would not clear Armstead to play last season because of an unspecified medical condition that was discovered last spring. Armstead experienced chest pains last year but neither he nor school officials ever disclosed any medical problems.

He was expected to transfer to another school for his senior year but recently decided instead to turn pro.

"One of my main reasons to transfer was to play with brother (Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead)," Armond said. "But I wasn't allowed (by USC) to transfer to another Pac-12 school."

Armond Armstead said he was "perfectly healthy" and would have his own Pro Day on April 9. He underwent an NFL evaluation following the 2010 season and said was projected as a second-round pick. He looked noticeably slimmer and weighed 285 pounds at USC on Wednesday.

"I'm in good shape," Armstead said. "I'm not combine ready. I'm just looking for an opportunity to play football. "

Defensive tackle DaJohn Harris, who mysteriously did not work out at the NFL combine after arriving in Indianapolis, said he was medically excluded because a Cleveland Browns doctor discovered he had a natural heart defect known as patent foramen ovale.
A "PFO" is a flap or valve-like opening present in everyone before birth but seals shut for 80 percent of the population. It does have symptoms. Harris said his personal cardiologist emailed all NFL teams to assure them he was OK.

"I hope teams realize I was fine," Harris said. "I feel I did pretty good."Harris (6-3, 304) ran the 40-yard dash in 5.07 seconds.

Tailback Marc Tyler, who experienced a disappointing combine, redeemed himself with a time of 4.64 in the 40. He said he pulled a hamstring in Indianapolis and was nervous throughout his workouts.

"It was way better (Wednesday)," Tyler said.

Tyler said NFL teams asked him about a possible drinking problem after his famous video on TMZ.com last summer that resulted in a one-game suspension.

"I've gotten a lot of questions," he said. "I just told the truth. I made mistakes and drank too much."
Posted on: March 7, 2012 6:55 pm
 

30 teams represented at limited Alabama Pro Day

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Something was missing. Or was it someone?

Somehow, there wasn't much of a buzz Wednesday at Alabama's Pro Day.

Running back Trent Richardson wasn't there. Neither were two former Alabama teammates: safety Mark Barron and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

All but two of the 32 teams were represented at an event at which 14 members of the Crimson Tide's 2011 national championship team performed, but head coaches and all but three general managers stayed away. The Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams were the teams not represented.

The Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers sent their general managers. One of the few recognizable faces was former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, now the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator.

A bigger and better crowd is expected on March 29, when Richardson, Barron and Upshaw are scheduled to perform along with some of the players who participated Wednesday.

Richardson, NFLDraftScout.com's top-ranked running back and a projected first-round pick, still is recovering from minor postseason knee surgery.

Barron, the top-ranked safety by NFLDraftScout.com, is recovering from double-hernia surgery.

Upshaw, ranked second behind South Carolina's Melvin Ingram among outside linebackers, has been plagued by tendinitis in a knee, Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday.

Alabama center William Vlachos, who wasn't among the nine former Alabama players invited to the recent NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, did his best to impress NFL scouts Wednesday, but he stopped short of performing in the event that is his strength: the bench press.

He will wait until March 29 to show how many times he can lift 225 pounds.

"The high-profile guys will be participating in the events then," Vlachos said.

One or two players projected as first-round draft choices were among the players who performed Wednesday. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, ranked 15th overall by NFLDraftScout.com, and inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower (28th) were among six Alabama players who had been to the combine but wanted to show off their skills again.

One player whose stock might have fallen at the combine might have improved his status slightly Wednesday.
Cornerback DeQuan Menzie ran the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds at Indianapolis. He improved that time to 4.66 seconds Wednesday.

"At the combine, I wasn't relaxed," Menzie said. "I was feeling so much pressure. Here, it was like I was at home, and I could release the pressure and run my best 40."

Menzie came out of the combine rated the 20th best cornerback available in the draft and was projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. Some teams might consider him as a free safety.

"I play it all," Menzie said. "I played safety in the Senior Bowl. I played safety in high school. I played corner here. I played in the nickel spot. There's really nothing that I can't handle. Saban put me through that."

Menzie has been training with Kirkpatrick and Hightower. What have they been telling Menzie?

"We've just got to get that money," Menzie said. "That's what Dont'a and Kirk say all the time. 'Go get that money. You've got to have the money on your mind.'"

Vlachos admitted he was disappointed. 

"If you look at the top-five consensus defensive tackles in the draft, I blocked all of them and blocked them well," Vlachos said.
In particular, he was referring to Penn State's Devon Still, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy and Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox and Michael Brockers of LSU.

"I can play with all of those guys," Vlachos said. "I think I proved that on film for three years. If these guys are top 15 picks, yes, I think I should have been invited to the Combine."

As a three-year starter, Vlachos said he played most of his college career at 295 pounds. Sensitive to being called small, the 6-foot-1 lineman has worked at gaining weight. He weighed in Wednesday at 319 pounds.

"I put on some weight, and I was able to run very well carrying it," said Vlachos, who ran the 40 in 5.27 seconds. "My arm length and height are not ideal. I also don't want to be light. Being able to run at that weight has got to be a positive for me."

Hightower has been listed at 6-4 throughout his college career. He has been listed as 6-2 by the NFL, but he was measured at 6-0 on Wednesday. Who measured him?"I don't know," Hightower said. "I know I'm 6-3. I'm telling all of y'all: I'm 6-3. I don't know what they're talking about."

He noted that former Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain was measured at 6-2 two years ago.

"They're going to measure me at 6-foot?" Hightower said. "I'm not even taking that. I'm 6-3. For everybody, I'm 6-3."

Neither Hightower, Kirkpatrick nor wide receiver Marquis Maze ran the 40-yard dash Wednesday. Maze and wide receiver Darius Hanks were among the Alabama players who went to Indianapolis. Hanks ran the 40-yard dash in 4.66 seconds then and in 4.69 seconds Wednesday.

Other participants Wednesday and their 40-yard dash times: cornerback Phelon Jones (4.65), tight end Brad Smelley (4.78), outside linebacker Alex Watkins (4.78), outside linebacker Jerrell Harris (4.81), offensive lineman Alfred McCullough (4.82), offensive lineman John Michael Boswell (5.35) and nose guard Nick Gentry (5.66).

Nose guard Josh Chapman, who came to Indianapolis but did not participate in any drills because he is recovering from mid-January knee surgery, participated in the bench press on Wednesday. Lifting for the first time since before the Jan. 9 BCS Championship game, Chapman lifted 225 pounds 29 times.
Posted on: March 7, 2012 6:25 pm
 

With QB sidelined, Fuller steps up at A&M Pro Day

With senior quarterback Ryan Tannehill not yet able to work out due to his recovery from a broken foot, the stage was set for several other Aggies to take advantage of the pro scouts on hand for Texas A&M's Pro Day. 

Senior wide receiver Jeff Fuller offered scouts a pleasant surprise by participating in the workout. He had been expected to wait until March 29 (like Tannehill) to work out after it was discovered that he'd suffered a stress fracture in his foot at the Senior Bowl, but he elected to compete anyway. This fact was especially important because unlike most of A&M's other prominent prospects not named Tannehill, Fuller was the only Aggie invited to the Combine who wasn't able to work out in Indianapolis. 

Fuller, measuring in at 6-4, 225 pounds, was clocked between 4.62-4.66 in a pair of attempts at the 40-yard dash and registered a 4.34 second time in the 20-yard short shuttle and a 7.10 second time in the three-cone drill. Fuller also had a 36" vertical jump, according to the official Twitter feed of Texas A&M Aggie Football. Fuller also participated in positional drills. The one drill he had performed in at the Scouting Combine was the bench press, where he lifted the bar 17 times.  

In reality, the times are slower than scouts had hoped for Fuller but considering the fact that he's still getting back into top shape, talent evaluators will be quick to forget these results should the times improve on March 29. 

Fuller is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 18 receiver for the 2012 draft. 

A pair of talented Aggie defensive backs also stepped up to work out despite the fact that each had participated at the Combine. 

Cornerback Coryell Judie entered his senior season highly regarded by scouts but a hamstring injury forced him to miss nearly half of the season. He was clocked at 7.10 in the three-cone drill Wednesday, which is over two-tenths of a second faster than the time he had at the Combine (7.33) in this event. 

A&M's other starting cornerback, Terrence Frederick, also helped himself by shaving nearly a tenth off of the 40-yard dash time he'd posted in Indianapolis. Frederick had been clocked at 4.54 seconds at the Combine but registered times between 4.42-4.46 seconds on Wednesday. 

After posting an impressive 4.47 time in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, running back Cyrus Gray elected to largely sit on the results he had in Indianapolis. 
Posted on: March 7, 2012 3:26 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 3:29 pm
 

Alabama Pro Day minus Richardson, Barron, Upshaw

I am beginning to get some of the early results from the just concluded Alabama Pro Day but perhaps the biggest story of the day was who wasn't available to work out rather than who was. 

Three of the four Crimson Tide prospects currently rated as first round caliber prospects by NFLDraftScout.com did not participate in today's workout. It had been known that running back Trent Richardson (knee) and safety Mark Barron (hernia) would not be working out today. Pass rusher Courtney Upshaw also was unable to workout today due to knee tendinitis. Each is expected to participate in Alabama's second Pro Day workout, scheduled for March 29. All 32 NFL teams were represented today. Expect all 32 to be there March 29, as well. 

Of course, the defending national champions boast plenty of talent other than these three -- not the least of which is two other potential first round prospects in cornerback 'Dre Kirkpatrick and inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower.  

Neither Kirkpatrick nor Hightower elected to run the 40-yard dash Wednesday after participating in the event at the Combine. Each participated in positional drills.

Hightower did go through other measureable drills, as well, including the three-cone (4.73) and short (20-yard) shuttle (7.55), according to a source on the scene.

For more information on the Alabama Pro Day and all others, keep NFLDraftScout.com and our Pro Day blog posts refreshed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com