Tag:NFLDraftScout.com
Posted on: February 21, 2011 9:21 pm
 

Newton throwing at Combine, Gabbert isn't

In the race to be the first quarterback selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, Auburn's Cam Newton is getting a head start over Missouri' Blaine Gabbert.

Newton, according to the NFL Network , has decided he will be throwing passes at this week's Combine. Gabbert, according to USA Today's Jim Corbett , is not expected to throw in Indianapolis and will instead wait until his Pro Day.

Both quarterbacks have questions to answer after starring in spread offenses in college. The schemes were shotgun-heavy and simplified the reads with which each passer had to make. Scouts want to see how well Newton and Gabbert drop back from center and how accurately they throw on the move.

Newton and Gabbert's decisions, though opposite,  weren't entirely unexpected.

Newton successfully created a buzz for himself in holding a media-only throwing session February 11 outside of San Diego, California. If he'd elected to not throw at the Combine, Newton would have risked killing whatever momentum he'd built for himself and potentially angering NFL teams.

Gabbert, on the other hand, is considered by most to be this year's top quarterback. As the leader, the pressure isn't quite as great on him to perform. While NFL scouts certainly would love to see Gabbert show some competitive spirit and throw in Indianapolis, it is pretty tough to argue with his decision. After all, the agency that represents Gabbert -- Creative Artists Agency -- has represented several quarterbacks in recent years who elected not to work out at the Combine and successfully boosted their stock with strong Pro Day performances. Recent CAA quarterbacks include Sam Bradford, Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan. Each elected not to throw in Indianapolis. Bradford and Stafford were the No. 1 overall picks of the 2010 and 2009 drafts, respectively. Ryan was the first quarterback selected and the third overall pick in 2008.


Posted on: February 21, 2011 8:00 pm
 

Combine Countdown -- WR Greg Little

Up until the beginning of the NFL Combine Thursday, I'm going to list one player per position who I see as having the most riding on their performance. That means multiple updates each day, so keep tuning in.

You'll see a couple of overriding themes with the players I select. Many are underclassmen - as many of them have more to prove to scouts - and many are players with either off-field or medical concerns. This was the case with my quarterback of choice, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett , but not the case with senior running back Alex Green of Hawaii .

North Carolina wideout Greg Little is not an underclassmen, but, after being suspended for his entire senior season, his 2009 tape is the last scouts have seen of him.

As three NFL scouts told me last week, Little has a lot riding on his performance both on and off the "field" this week at the Combine. He looked like a prospect who was ready to come into his own as the 2009 season ended. In his final game as a Tar Heel, Little caught seven passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns against Pitt in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He also rushed once for another 31 yards. Little performance stole the spotlight from the Panthers' big play receiver Jon Baldwin, who was limited to only three catches for 31 yards in the game.

The 6-2, 220 pound former running back demonstrated rare body control and sticky hands in that contest. His vision, agility, power and acceleration after the catch make him one of the more intriguing YAC receivers in this draft.

Pure speed is a significant concern for Little, however, and considering his suspension, so to are character questions. If Little is able to run in the mid to low 4.5s or faster, he'll boost his stock with teams -- at least athletically. Most important to his final draft standing, Little will need to be open and honest about his role in the UNC scandal.

This year's receiver crop features a lot of talent expected to be drafted in the 2nd-4th rounds. At present time, NFLDraftScout.com rates Little as a 3rd-4th round pick and the 13th best receiver. With a strong performance in drills and interviews, Little could push himself as high as the late second round.

Little, like Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn, has had a lot of time to prepare for the Combine. Scouts won't be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. If he isn't prepared and suffers through a poor showing in drills, interviews or both -- and Little could see his stock plummet into the final two rounds of the draft.
Posted on: February 20, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Combine Countdown -- Hawaii RB Alex Green

Between today and the beginning of the NFL Combine Thursday, I'm going to list one player per position who I see as having the most riding on their performance. That means multiple updates each day, so keep tuning in.

You'll see a couple of overriding themes with the players I select. Many are underclassmen - as many of them have more to prove to scouts - and many are players with either off-field or medical concerns.

Unlike at quarterback, where Ryan Mallett fit all of these characteristics, I see a potential diamond in the rough at running back with the most to gain (or lose) at the Combine. Hawaii's Alex Green is a senior with no known off-field or medical issues and certainly lacks the name recognition of some of this year's top backs, but I like his combination of size (6-0, 220), burst and hands out of the backfield.

The 2011 class of running backs is a very solid group. There is only one surefire first round pick in my opinion -- Alabama's Mark Ingram -- and two others I see as possibly sneaking into the top 32 (Illinois' Mikel LeShoure and Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams). Because either LeShoure and Williams could leap into the first round conversation with a dynamic showing in Indianapolis, I strongly considered listing them here. I believe entirely too much draft analysis is spent on the top 40-50 players, however. Real scouting begins in the middle rounds and extends into free agency, which is one of the reasons why I'll be watching Green closely.

Consider these three facts.

1. There were 12 running backs selected in the 2010 draft.
2. NFLDraftScout.com currently rates 27 running backs as potential draft picks in 2011.
3. Green is rated 20th and a 6th-7th round pick.

As a junior college transfer playing for the most geographically remote team in the country, scouts haven't seen a lot of Green despite the fact that he led the country with a gaudy 8.2 yards per carry this season. Now, before you dismiss his numbers as a product of the Warriors' dynamic offense, recall that Hawaii's spread attack is pass-heavy, inflating the numbers of their quarterbacks and wideouts, but deflating the production of their running backs. In fact, since former head coach June Jones implemented Hawaii's spread offense in 1999, Green is the first back to ever surpass the 1,000 yard mark. Hawaii's historical struggles running the football go back even further. They haven't seen a 1,000 yard runner in nearly 20 years (1992). Green rushed for 1,199 yards this season.

Scouts were impressed with Green's build and burst at the East-West Shrine Game. Ultimately, however, to remain at running back and not be thrown upon that heap of "oversized running" fullbacks, Green will need to perform well this week in athletic drills. He's been estimated to run in the mid 4.6s. If he runs that slow in Indianapolis, he'd better get used to the idea of blocking -- and that is if a team gives him a shot as a utility fullback.

If, however, he can run in the low 4.5s and show some explosiveness in the jumps and shuttle drills, he'll reinforce the positive impressions he made in Orlando.

I argued that the Combine could prove very important for Ryan Mallett. How he performs in drills and interviews could dictate whether he's a first or third round pick.

The week could be even more important for Green. If he performs well, I could see him being drafted as high as the middle rounds. A poor performance, however, could see him slip right on out of the draft entirely. 





Posted on: February 20, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Combine Countdown -- QB Ryan Mallett

Between today and the beginning of the NFL Combine Thursday, I'm going to list one player per position who I see as having the most riding on their performance. That means multiple updates each day, so keep tuning in.

You'll see a couple of overriding themes with the players I select. For one, many of them are underclassmen. Obviously, most of them have played in fewer games than the seniors, so talent evaluators are forced to make a greater projection. Also, whereas most seniors have previously been measured and timed, the underclassmen have not. If a player is shorter or lighter than NFL teams thought this week, he most likely will be an underclassmen.

The other theme you'll see me mention throughout these posts is that interviews and medical testing are infinitely more important to a players' grade than how fast they run, high they jump or times they can lift 225 pounds. Medical testing is critical for obvious reasons. Before you scoff at the importance of the interviews, recall yourself at 21 or 22. Can you honestly say, you'd work harder after someone presented you a multi-million dollar contract? Not many of us have that type of maturity. Not many players do either. And that is precisely who the great scouting teams are looking to weed out, regardless of how athletic they are.

Arkansas junior quarterback Ryan Mallett is the perfect prospect to lead off the series (at least in my humble opinion).

Mallett would be wise to do all of the testing in Indianapolis. His size and big arm will stand out next to the other quarterbacks. Even if he is inaccurate -- which he shouldn't be as he's typically at his best when his feet are set -- the velocity with which he throws will catch the attention of NFL coaches who haven't researched him for months like the scouts have.

Of course, of greater importance to Mallett's final grade will be how he handles the team (and, quite frankly, the media) interviews. Mallett is going to get hit with lots of questions about his so-called lack of leadership and reports of illegal drug use. The poise and honesty with which Mallett handles these questions could the difference in his landing in the first round -- as his passing ability warrants -- or slipping into the second or even third round. 

No quarterback - not even Cam Newton - has as much riding on their total Combine performance than Mallett.

For the very best in NFL Combine coverage, keep your eyes glued to NFLDraftScout.com and my and Chad Reuter's Twitter feeds. I'm @RobRang . He's @ChadReuter .
Posted on: February 19, 2011 1:01 pm
 

Fox makes it official, Denver switching to 4-3

Once the Denver Broncos hired John Fox to be their head coach many of us presumed he'd be bringing along his 4-3 defensive front to the AFC West.

On Friday, he made it official, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post.

"We're going to be a multiple-front defense, but I think we'll make the commitment to the 4-3. The transition from the 3-4 to 4-3 is much easier than going from the 4-3 to 3-4, I will say that. So we feel pretty confident about that switch."

The Broncos had long run the 4-3 alignment under Mike Shanahan, but switched to the 3-4 under Josh McDaniels. Under the tutelage of then-defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, the Broncos appeared to make early strides in the odd man front in 2009, but the team dropped from the No. 7 ranked overall defense two years ago to dead last this past season.

Fox is fortunate in his timing. Not only are the Broncos in prime position to add a defensive star with the No. 2 overall pick of the draft, they'll also be getting former NFL sacks champion Elvis Dumervil back this season. He missed all of last year with a torn pectoral muscle.

I currently project the Broncos to select defensive tackle Nick Fairley in the first round. My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter also has them taking the Auburn star.

Fairley, Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers each possess the size and strength to provide immediate help in Denver. The possibility also exists that the Broncos may have to consider LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson should they allow Champ Bailey to leave via free agency.

As always for the very best in NFL draft coverage, be sure to keep the page refreshed at NFLDraftScout.com


Posted on: February 17, 2011 12:55 pm
 

Pre-Indy buzz- Baldin, Smith, House running well

Agents and athletic trainers preparing their athletes for the annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis are generally hesitant to put expectations on prospects prior to their official workout.

That said, each year in the week leading up to the Combine there is a buzz in the scouting community of prospects who are already turning heads in the pre-Combine preparation.

This year three players generating quite a lot of buzz are Pittsburgh wide receiver Jon Baldin , Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith and New Mexico State cornerback Davon House .

The 6-5, 230 pound Baldwin is reportedly running in the 4.4s and could push the 40" mark in the vertical jump. Results such as this could push Baldin into the first round.

Smith, a 6-2, 205 pound cornerback, has received a lot of national attention in recent weeks as some analysts have finally got around to reviewing his game tape. Graded as a top 40 prospect by NFLDraftScout.com since September, Smith could move into the top 20 if the early reports of his speed are true. Smith, according to sources, has been running in the high 4.3s to low 4.4s. If he runs that well in Indianapolis, Smith will only have to ease scouts' concerns about his off-field behavior to guarantee himself a spot in the draft's opening frame.

Just as many were slow in recognizing Smith's talents, don't be surprised if Davon House is suddenly cast as a draft "riser" if he runs in the high 4.3s to low 4.4s at the Combine, as he's been doing in preparation for the event, according to sources.

House didn't get much national attention playing for the Aggies, but like Smith, he has been highly rated by NFLDraftScout.com all year long. The First-Team All-WAC defender had signed on to play in the Senior Bowl before a recurring ankle injury forced him out of it.

The Combine always reveals some surprises. If these three players work out well, they'll be labeled as surprises by some. NFL scouts and those of us with an ear to the action won't be... 


Posted on: February 11, 2011 2:37 pm
 

Amukamara surprised his speed is in question

I spoke to Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara yesterday in preparation for an upcoming feature for NFLDraftScout.com . He was very open and honest as to why he elected not to play in the Senior Bowl, how difficult it was to remain at Nebraska when they asked him to switch from running back to cornerback and what happened on the 80-yard touchdown reception he gave up to Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon.

Perhaps his most interesting comments, however, came when I asked him he wasn't focusing a great deal of his pre-Combine training on the all-important 40-yard dash.

"I realize the importance of the 40," Amukamara told me, "I just don't anticipate any problems in that area. My speed has never been an issue before and I don't expect that it will be now either."

It is that kind of confidence one might expect from the All-American, who cited his record-breaking track career at Apollo High in Arizona as one of the reasons why he might be a little better prepared than some athletes for the Combine.

Amukamara won the Class 4A state titles in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes in 2007. His times in the 100 (10.78) and 200 (21.91) were both the fastest of any high school track athlete in Arizona.

Amukamara is working out at Athletes Performance in Tempe, Arizona in preparation for the upcoming Combine. He is planning to participate in every drill there.
Posted on: February 10, 2011 8:04 pm
 

Cam Newton Media Workout Video

Marty Caswell of XX1090 AM radio in San Diego shot nearly 15 minutes of video of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton's Media Day workout Thursday. The link to the video is below.

The video has been cut up. The first seven minutes of the video are actually some of Newton's post workout question-and-answer session with the media. For those only interested in Newton's throwing, it begins at approximately the 7:03 mark.

I'd recommend listening to the interview, however. Though none of the hard questions were posed to Newton -- about the pay-for-play scandal that hung over his head while with the Tigers, etc. -- we are allowed some insight as to how he handles questions from interviewers. As we've seen in prior interviews, Newton is poised and funny, at times. He also resorts to cliches, on occasion. Is this nerves or is Newton going to struggle with the significant expansion in terminology of an NFL offense? This, much more than how well he throws in shorts, is a concern he'll need to address for teams during interviews at the Combine.

In the workout itself, Newton demonstrates good timing and efficiency in his drops. He has a smooth, over the top release and generally good accuracy. He does throw some balls a bit high, at times, especially during the early crossing routes. He shows the ability to stick some of the sideline throws, as well as demonstrate his great touch on the deep balls.

Among the more impressive things Newton does is adjust when Trent Dilfer requests some different throws. The willingness to do this -- and do it well -- no doubt contributed to Dilfer's and Warren Moon's rave reviews of the workout.

Newton does look good in on this video. The reality, is however, is that he should. Having personally been on hand for two stellar workouts that moved Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford into the top five of their respective drafts, I can tell you that I cannot see enough on this video to put Newton on par with either of those workouts.

I hope the positive press Newton is receiving from this workout encourages him to throw at the Combine. I hope to watch him in person there -- as I'm sure do the talent evaluators for 32 NFL teams. 

Video Link 
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com