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Tag:Scouting Combine
Posted on: February 26, 2012 2:34 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 2:36 pm
 

Disappointing 40 times could hurt top receivers

Several of the more highly regarded wide receivers of the 2012 draft may see their stock slip after running signficantly slower than expected Sunday at the Scouting Combine. 

Baylor wideout Kendall Wright, who some regard as the draft's top talent at the position due to his ability to make the big play, clocked in at just 4.61 seconds, according to NFL.com. Wright had been projected to run in the 4.4s or better.

Wright was far from the only highly regarded receiver to produce a disappointing time in the 40-yard dash, however. LSU's Rueben Randle (4.55), Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu (4.67) and Arkansas' Joe Adams (4.55) also could force scouts to go back to the tape after running slower than anticipated.
   
These results come on the heels of a disappointing workout from NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated receiver, Oklahoma State junior Justin Blackmon. Blackmon elected not to run at the Combine citing a tight hamstring. He did perform in the positional drills, however, but appeared hesitant to run and cut with the aggression that characterized his spectacular career with the Cowboys.  

Posted on: February 26, 2012 2:16 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 3:22 pm
 

James, Rainey run 4.45 40s - officially

Florida running back Chris Rainey, who confidently said he expected to run a 4.1-second 40-yard dash and "definitely" would break the Combine record, posted an unofficial 4.37 on his first attempt Sunday. That equaled Oregon's LaMichael James for the fastest times among the running backs so far. (40-yard dash results)

Miami's Lamar Miller is being credited with a 4.38 and Virginia Tech's David Wilson, both expected to be second-round picks, ran an unofficial 4.40. 

The vast majority of the unofficial times have been around a tenth of a second faster than the "official" time released later by NFL.com through National Football Scouting.

As we've noted during the event, NFLDraftScout.com data shows Trindon Holiday's 4.21 in 2010 as the fastest Combine time since 2000.  

UPDATE: Miller was able leapfrog to the head of the running back class when the "official" 40 times were posted by NFL.com, being credited with a 4.40, while Rainey and James were dinged .07 from their unofficial handheld times down to 4.45. San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman was also credited with an official 4.45 after having a first clocking of 4.41.
 

Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:40 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 1:09 pm
 

Burfict says he's best LB; coaches "messed me up"

Every prospect with some skeletons in the closet is coached up by his agent to make a strong PR move at the Combine. Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins admitted the last time he smoked marijuana, for example, as part of an extremely forthright media session Sunday.

Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict was laid back and very "Yes sir, no sir," although he wasn't exactly apologetic about his penchant for penalties on the field and issues with the Sun Devils coaching staff off it.

"I'm a soft-spoken guy, shy," he said. "But when I'm on the field I hate to lose and that aggression comes out."

Burfict's ASU's career was marred by a slew of personal foul penalties that hurt his draft stock. He also had an altercation in the locker room with a teammate - he said it began with an argument in a 7-on-7 drill - and he left school a year early after a very strained relationship with former ASU coach Dennis Erickson's staff.

Burfict is the No. 3-ranked inside linebacker by NFLDraftScout.com and the No. 88 prospect overall. He'll need to convince scouts that he is an impact player who can control his aggression to avoid slipping into the third or fourth round.

"I just know I'm the best linebacker in this draft," said Burfict, who added that he patterns his game after the Ravens' Ray Lewis and the Bills' Nick Barnett.

Burfict said he is down to 248 pounds after playing last season at 260, but he wasn't about to absolve the coaching staff for its role in his disappointing 2011 season.
 
"The coaches kind of messed me up. I didn’t know if I would start a game or be benched," he said. "It hurt me, but I tried to fight through it."

 
Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:19 pm
 

WRs Floyd, Hill out-shine Blackmon Sunday

While the media isn't allowed in to view most of the workouts at the Scouting Combine, a select group of media members were invited in Sunday morning to watch the quarterbacks and receivers' positional drills. 

With NFLDraftScout.com's top-four rated quarterbacks -- Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler -- either unwilling or unable to throw at the Combine, it was the pass-catchers rather than the passers who stole the show.  This fact is all the more interesting considering that the highest regarded player at the position struggled to live up to his lofty billing. 
 
Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon entered the week as NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated wide receiver and viewed as a potential top five prospect but a rather ho-hum performance Sunday morning may put his perch at the top in peril. 

Blackmon demonstrated the strong hands and body control Sunday that he'd used to earn back to back Biletnikof awards as the nation's top wideout but it appeared that he was limited by the hamstring injury he'd cited as the reason he wouldn't be running the 40-yard dash this week. Blackmon had to gather himself a bit when cutting and never showed the top-end speed scouts would expect of an elite prospect. The key will be how much improvement Blackmon shows when he works out for scouts at his March 7 Pro Day. If he shows improved burst during the workout on the Oklahoma State campus, scouts will likely chalk up his Combine workout as an example of a player simply being limited by injury. If he isn't more impressive, however, Baylor's Kendall Wright and Notre Dame's Michael Floyd are very much in the race to be the first receiver selected in the 2012 draft. 

Floyd certainly helped his cause by running the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds (unofficially) at 6-3, 220 pounds and showing excellent hands, flexibility, and surprisingly precise routes. Whether it was drifting across the middle during the gauntlet drill, dropping his hips on quick comeback routes or showing the ability to track the ball over either shoulder deep, Floyd consistently plucked the ball out of air, quickly secured it and got upfield in one fluid motion.

Perhaps the surprise star among receivers, however, was Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill. Possessing a similarly freakish combination of size and speed as his Yellow Jacket predecessor Demaryius Thomas, the 6-4, 215 pound Hill was credited with a blistering 4.30 time in the 40-yard (unofficial) and showed the sticky hands and excellent body control he'd flashed as a big play specialist in Georgia Tech's triple-option offense. If there was a concern about Hill's workout it would be that he seemed a bit stiff when re-directing. His quick acceleration and top-end speed, however, were every bit as obvious with the ball in his hands as they were when he was running the 40-yard dash.

Of the quarterbacks throwing in the morning session, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins was clearly the most polished. While he does not possess a cannon for an arm, Cousins showed enough zip and excellent accuracy on the deep out and was particularly accurate on the post-corner route -- a throw many view as the most difficult asked of quarterbacks during the Combine workout. Cousins does the little things well. While other passers struggled with their footwork and release point, Cousins' has a clean set-up and delivery and consistently stared down the middle as he dropped back, mimicking the form he'd use during a game to look off the safety before turning to fire passes to the outside. Considering his four years starting experience, two years as a captain and experience in a pro-style offense, don't be surprised if Cousins enjoys a late rise up draft boards very similar to the one Andy Dalton enjoyed a year ago. 

Two relatively unheralded quarterbacks also took advantage of the big stage to turn some heads. Southern Mississippi's Austin Davis and Richmond's Aaron Corp each showed enough arm strength and accuracy to prove that they belonged. Davis' touch on the deep ball was particularly impressive. 

On the flipside, Arizona's Nick Foles and Houston's Case Keenum struggled. Each were erratic with their accuracy, especially on longer routes. Foles has good enough tape to withstand the disappointing workout. Keenum, short and sporting a 3/4 release, may have an uphill climb ahead of him to get drafted despite a sparkling collegiate career.         
             
Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:43 am
 

RG3 unofficially clocked at 4.41, 4.38

For those arguing that Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III should leap Andrew Luck as the top quarterback -- and prospect -- of the 2012 draft, he helped the cause by demonstrating his unbelievable straight-line speed Sunday morning. 

Griffin was unofficially clocked at 4.41 seconds by The NFL Network on his first attempt and ran even faster the second time around, zipping down the line at 4.38 seconds, according to the league's stopwatch. 

The demonstration of spectacular speed was not a surprise considering Griffin's Olympic potential, but it nonetheless gives scouts an actual time to go with all of the Heisman winner's highlights. 

Griffin is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 prospect in the draft and is projected by Senior Analyst Rob Rang to be the subject of an aggressive trade-up by some QB-hungry team in his recent mock draft.           

Posted on: February 25, 2012 5:49 pm
 

Mercilus, Perry could climb at position of need

Only quarterbacks are in greater demand than pass rushers.  

In the 2012 draft class, the need outweighs the supply, pushing players such as Illinois' Whitney Mercilus and Nick Perry of Southern Cal up draft boards.  

Mercilus and Perry lack prototypical size, but both have the natural quickness and whatever-it-takes attitude. Both entered the NFL early after productive junior seasons. Both are expected to be selected in the top-50 picks and make a living collapsing the pocket in the NFL.  

They just have different stories and styles.  

Mercilus was a relative unknown entering the 2011 season with only two career sacks. But he shined as a junior and first-year starter last year, leading all of college football with 16 sacks, earning him All-American honors. Mercilus decided to capitalize on his breakout campaign and enter the 2012 NFL Draft as an early entry.  

"I was just able to put everything together," said Mercilus. "It was just due to hard work, that's all I have to accredit it to. Can't say I'm surprised, but it happened. I made it happen."  

With top production for only one season, teams must figure out whether Mercilus is a one-year wonder. That's a description Mercilus doesn't necessarily agree with and the connotation can be damning. It was applied to the FBS sacks leader Da'Quan Bowers out of Clemson, and he fell to the late second round.  

"I think it's a negative label. Once you have it, you have it," Mercilus said.  

One of the most impressive statistics by Mercilus from his prolific 2011 season was his nine forced fumbles, a mark that is second all-time in NCAA history. How does he explain his ability to strip the ball?  

"I just have a knack for it, I time it up right," he said.  

On the flipside, Michigan native Perry wasn't an unknown out of high school. He was a blue-chip, five-star recruit who spurned the Wolverines when Lloyd Carr was fired and joined Pete Carroll at Southern Cal. Perry was a freshman All-American in 2009 after leading the team in sacks (8.0) as a backup. And became a starter as a sophomore and had his best season in 2011 as a junior, leading the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks before leaving school early.  

Despite standing at just 6-2, Perry offers an impressive blend of speed and strength at 271 pounds, adding over 20 pounds of muscle in the last six months. He lined up at defensive end his entire career, but teams that employ the 3-4 formation have also taken a liking to the former Trojan. Perry has the versatile skill-set to stand up as a rush linebacker, but he enjoys his more natural position on the line.  

"I can handle both, but I prefer 4-3," said Perry when asked about playing in either formation. "I'd like to keep my hand in the dirt, but as long as I'm rushing and getting to the quarterback, I'm fine with whatever it is."  

There are differing views on Perry's best position fit at the next level, but most agree he's capable of filling either role depending on the scheme. Some prospects encourage the switch to standing up in space to get more freedom. But other pass rushers hope to keep their hand on the ground where they feel most comfortable.  

"I've been playing defensive end for a long time now and I have experience at that," Perry said. "So I think being put further away from what you're used to doing makes it a little uneasy."

--By Dane Brugler
Posted on: February 25, 2012 5:29 pm
 

Edge rushers coveted despite size, scheme

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's not always physical dimensions teams are worried about when scouring for the NFL's next great pass rusher, but whether a prospect measures up when it comes to production.
  
"I think everybody has the same characteristics for pass rushers," said Giants GM Jerry Reese. "You want guys who are big and long and fast and powerful. You want everything as a personnel guy but if a guy is big and has got long arms, that helps. If he has speed off the end, that helps. Power to rush up the middle. Your pass rushers are different breeds. Good athletes. We like pass rushers and we look for them."
  
North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples compares physically to Julius Peppers with the natural ability to be drafted early in the first round. Among edge rushers, NFLDraftScout.com has Coples (6-6, 281) and his 747-like wingspan ranked first at defensive end and 20th overall behind two players who could project to outside linebacker in the NFL, South Carolina senior Melvin Ingram and Alabama junior Courtney Upshaw.
  
Ingram doesn't have the characteristics the Giants and others seek in the ideal 4-3 defensive end. His experience at outside linebacker and also playing end should be a benefit. He has a similar body type to Steelers 3-4 linebacker LaMarr Woodley (6-2, 270).
  
The other top defensive ends in the class include Illinois junior Whitney Mercilus, who led the nation in sacks (16) and forced fumbles in 2011 but had only one productive season. Nick Perry, a junior from Southern Cal, has very good athletic ability but he's raw and teams aren't sure he has a natural position in the NFL.
  
The Giants have one of the NFL's top pass rushers in Jason Pierre-Paul, a first-round pick in 2010 who had 16.5 sacks in 2011.
  
He's near the peak of every measurable category teams consider essential projecting college defensive ends to the NFL at 6-5, 278, 34 3/4-inch arms on a 270-pound frame. He carries his weight like a 240-pounder, capable of executing a standing back flip with cat-like quickness and rare straight line speed -- as evident in his 4.67-second 40 at the Combine.
  
Ingram had 9.5 sacks in 2011, but the relevant numbers aren't all on-field totals. He measured 6-1 7/8, 264 pounds and has 30 1/4-inch arms -- all considered below-average and call into question his ability to consistently beat NFL offensive tackles on the perimeter.
  
Upshaw also had 9.5 sacks in 2011 in a seek-and-destroy role for Alabama's top-ranked defense. His measurements are similar to Ingram's, but his arms were an inch longer and his hands smaller. He was 6-1, 272, at the Combine.
  
That's not necessarily enough to convince teams he can fit as a traditional defensive end. But Upshaw has an edge on some outside linebackers in that he's be trained in a 3-4 and his production proves his value.
  
"(Coach Saban's) background alone, he tried to teach us to be great and be ready for the league. He got us ready for the league," Upshaw said.
  
For teams operating a 4-3, Coples makes the most sense because he has the size and long arms to combat offensive tackles with the reach and lateral movement to dwarf smaller linebackers.
  
Coples played defensive tackle and defensive end at North Carolina. He'll have to refine his technique and become more consistent operating in space. A standout in the Senior Bowl after posting 17.5 sacks the last two seasons, Coples fits as a 4-3, every-down LDE in the NFL rather than a pass-rush specialist. He might be more similar to Patriots defensive end Shaun Ellis, who at the Combine was 6-5, 280 coming out of Tennessee and drafted 12th overall by the Jets in 2000.
   
Like Ellis, Coples has better power than suddenness. Height can be a detriment, especially as fatigue sets in and players lose their fundamental technique and lower pad level to maintain leverage. If general managers are convinced Coples will make enough game-changing plays and has the ability to get to the quarterback in the clutch, he'll rise up boards as the draft approaches.
   
"We'd like to have a guy who could just play the edge and create problems," said Titans coach Mike Munchak. "Everyone wants the same thing. You want a guy that the offense is worried about, a guy who with a two-minute drive, this guy can take the game over, get the ball out of the quarterback's hand and win it for you. He could be silent all game, and then change the game." 
  
At 272 pounds, Upshaw isn't exactly small, and in the Alabama's multiple-front defense he was a game-changing, high-impact player teams will covet. Scouts praise Upshaw for his technique and specifically the strength in his hands. He's an intense on-field presence with a natural knack to bend off the edge.
  
"Anytime you can get an edge pass rusher or any pass rusher, they're always at a premium because the game has changed," said Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, whose team successfully shifted Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali to outside linebacker.
  
Upshaw played defensive end in the 4-3 in Alabama's nickel package and in the team's "I" front where he was one of three down linemen.
  
"If I meet with a team they ask me where I feel comfortable,"
Upshaw said. "I feel like I can play both of them."
  
Ingram's footwork is excellent and the high school quarterback, running back, wide receiver -- and point guard -- was used in a variety of roles at South Carolina. He exclusively played linebacker as a freshman with the Gamecocks and continued to get reps at outside linebacker during his last two seasons and said his height gives him a leverage advantage.
  
"I feel like when I come off the ball I already have leverage. So I just try to counter-move off whatever the offensive linemen do," Ingram said.
  
Ingram can also comfortably drop into coverage and match athletic ability and lateral movement to cover a tight end in space. He had two interceptions and scored three touchdowns in 2011. While he'll be classified as a pass rusher by decision-makers, he's more accurately labeled a football player.
  
There are similarities between Ingram and 2011 No. 2 overall pick Von Miller, an outside linebacker who ran a 4.42 40 at 6-2 5/8, 246 with 33 1/4-inch arms. A dervish off the edge, Miller had 11.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for the Broncos as a rookie and is now tutoring Ingram in California.
  
"We just try to compete against each other every day," Ingram said. "Obviously, he's the Defensive Rookie of the Year. So I just try to pattern myself after him because I feel like he's had a lot of success in the NFL."
  
John Elway, vice president of the Broncos, said the organization knew how to invest the No. 2 pick in 2011 when it was determined that Miller was a special player in any system.
  
Falcons coach Mike Smith said body type can be overrated. Players with a history of production can break the mold.
  
"We are all searching for that and they come in all different kind of packages. They don't all have to be 6-4 and 270 pounds or 265," Smith said. "They at times can be 6-1, 6-1 1/2, 230 pounds. It depends on the system that you are playing and there are certain systems out there that allow some to rush out of a wide-tackle nine and be very productive. Those same players might not be very productive in another system."
Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: February 25, 2012 5:08 pm
 

Still not shy in stating "hands down I'm" best DT

Michael Brockers wasn't about to get drawn into a war of words.
  
The LSU standout followed Penn State's Devon Still to the podium, and both drew large crowds as the top two defensive tackles in this draft - and potential top 10 overall picks.
  
Still had just thrown down the gauntlet, confidently declaring himself the elite defensive tackle in this draft, without mentioning anyone else by name.
  
"I think hands down I'm the best defensive tackle," Still said. "I want it more. I was able to take over a lot of games."
  
The headline-chasing crowd asked Brockers about that statement a few minutes later, but he didn't take the bait.
  
"If he said that, then he said that," said Brockers. "I haven't really watched his film, so I can't sit up here and say I'm better than him.  I do know what I do good. I play the run. I'm a force in the middle.  And I feel like I do a very good job with that."
  
Brockers, currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8-rated overall prospect, is ahead of Still (No. 10) in a deep class of interior defenders. They're battling for coveted draft position as they have similar sizes and builds.
  
Brockers, up five pounds from his college playing weight to 322 on his 6-5 frame, a continuing transition for someone who arrived in Baton Rouge as a 250-pound defensive end in 2009.
  
"I'm like, 'Oh, snap! I'm 322 pounds," Brockers said of stepping on the scale after a workout, adding that it's five pounds of muscle mass that he has added since the end of last season. "I'm blessed to have this frame and still be quick with it.
  
"I feel like at 322, I can move a lot better than some other guys can move. So I feel like that's my biggest strength. How big I am and how quick I am."
  
The similarities between Still and Brockers aren't lost on scouts, including the question marks. Both have only one standout college season under their belts, thin bodies of work for teams holding top 10 picks.
  
"I can't get any worse, I can only get better from now on," said Brockers, who won't run or lift this week.
  
Both Brockers and Still benefitted from the deep talent their schools had in the trenches. Still credited his defensive linemates for opening holes for him, and said the best offensive lineman he battled during his Penn State career was Johnnie Troutman - every day in practice.
  
"I don't strive for mediocre," said Still.
  
Still suffered two torn left knee ligaments (ACL, MCL) and then a broken ankle during his first two years in Happy Valley. After being part of a rotation as a junior, he said it was his bowl game battle against Florida center Mike Pouncey at the end of the 2010 season that propelled him into his monster senior campaign. Still was named to 10 All-American teams after racking up 17 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
  
"Whenever I do something, I want to be the best," said Still. "To this day I'm not where I want to be. I want to make my mark in the NFL.
  
"My goal is to make my own mark, and have other players style their game after mine."

 
 
 
 
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