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Tag:Missouri
Posted on: March 17, 2011 7:24 pm
 

Pass rusher Aldon Smith earns mixed reviews

While the vast majority of the NFL (and certainly media) attention was spent on quarterback Blaine Gabbert at Missouri's Pro Day, another potential first round pick -- defensive end Aldon Smith -- was among the other former Tigers who also worked out for scouts Thursday.

Like a lot of prospects in the 2011 draft, there is a wide range of opinion regarding Smith. Two sources (who each admitted to me that they attended Thursday's workout more to watch Smith than Gabbert) demonstrated just how different those thoughts could be.

The first source, who works for a club operating out of 3-4 base defense, thought that Smith looked "fantastic." He cited Smith's "explosive burst, acceleration and potential to be a big sucker once he grows into his body." The source envisioned Smith as a 3-4 rush linebacker who "absolutely should" go off the board in the middle to late portion of the first round.

The second source, scouting for a team with a four man front, wasn't nearly as impressed with Smith's workout. He called the workout "just average" and felt that it proved his limitations as strictly a 4-3 defensive end due to the fact that he "can't bend." The source referred back to a "disappointing" Combine workout from Smith in which the Tiger pass rusher was "one of the slowest DL in the shuttle."

Smith, for the record, registered a 4.59 and 4.50 in the short shuttle, designed to test change of direction and burst. His average ranked 16th out of the 20 DL tested in this drill at the Combine. 

This source thought that Smith deserved to be drafted in the second or even the third round, but acknowledged that "someone is going to take him earlier based on his upside and his 2009 tape."

Smith burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman, breaking Justin Smith's school record with 11.5 sacks to go along with 64 tackles and 19 tackles for loss. For his efforts, Smith was unanimously chosen as the Big 12's Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2009. 

Despite being the focus of every team's blocking scheme, Smith's 2010 season began in fine form. He posted 10 tackles, including three tackles for loss and two sacks in Missouri's season-opening win against Illinois. But a broken leg suffered against San Diego State sidelined him for three games and hampered his play much of the rest of the season. His statistical production dropped as a result: 48 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

Smith currently rates as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5 rated defensive end and No. 18 rated player overall.

Posted on: March 17, 2011 3:22 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 6:48 pm
 

Strong Pro Day from Gabbert could push him to 1

A strong throwing session from Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert could push him to the No. 1 overall pick.

According to a Twitter note from Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune, Gabbert completed 44 of 49 passes and characterized "at least three" of the incompletions to drops by the collection of D-II receivers organized for the workout. With Missouri having no draft-eligible receivers, he was left to rely on others, rather than former teammates to catch his passes.

A source on the scene characterized Gabbert's workout as a "8" when asked to score it on a scale of 1-10. The source pointed out some "little issues intermediate and deep." But also noted "good velocity and accuracy on the move."

Gabbert's "little issues" on deeper passes wasn't unexpected. This was a primary concern based off of the largely horizontal (rather than vertical) passing he was asked to do while operating Missouri's spread attack.

In demonstrating good footwork from under center and accuracy while on the run, Gabbert helped alleviate concerns about his ability to translate to a more traditional pro-style offense.

As expected, the Missouri Pro Day was well attended by NFL decision-makers, including Jets' head coach Rex Ryan, Ravens' head coach John Harbaugh, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, Bengals' head coach Marvin Lewis, and Jaguars' head coach Jack Del Rio.

We'll have more updates from Missouri's Pro Day as the day goes on, including a report on pass rusher Aldon Smith's attempts to better a rather disappointing Combine workout.

Posted on: March 13, 2011 7:23 pm
 

Keep an eye on the sidelines at LSU Pro Day

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 5, 2011 12:21 pm
 

Poll of NFL sources finds gulf of opinion on QBs

Since the Combine ended Tuesday, I've been polling league sources on their rankings of the quarterbacks. I spoken or texted with seven sources (ranging from area scouts to front office executives) as of Saturday morning and have some interesting results.

In six of the seven cases, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert were the top two rated quarterbacks. Four teams had Auburn's Newton as the top passer. Three had Gabbert. All three of the Gabbert fans noted, however, that his March 17 Pro Day would significantly impact their grade on him.

Interestingly enough, the same four teams that rated Newton No. 1 had Arkansas' Ryan Mallett ranked as the third QB -- with one exception. One of these clubs had the rankings had Mallett as the No. 2 passer behind Netwon. This source is obviously less concerned about the so-called character questions of these two SEC stars than other teams.

The wildcard of the QB rankings was Washington's Jake Locker. Three teams had Locker as the 3rd rated quarterback. The other four teams rated Locker 4th (two teams), 6th and 7th, respectively in this year's QB class.

The other QBs jumping ahead of Locker for these clubs were Florida State's Christian Ponder, TCU's Andy Dalton and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick.

Given the choice between "sure," "likely," and "unlikely" five of the seven sources thought it was "likely" that all seven of the quarterbacks made the first three rounds.

To put that in perspective, seven quarterbacks being drafted in the first three rounds has happened only twice in the past 40 years (excluding the USFL.CFL-impacted Supplemental Draft in 1984).

Teams are certainly hoping that this year's group will enjoy more NFL success than the past two classes that sent this many highly-graded quarterbacks to the pros. The 1999 class featured huge busts in Tim Couch, Akili Smith and Cade McNown, among others. Donovan McNabb and, to a lesser extent, Daunte Culpepper were the success stories of the class. With the exception of Jay Cutler (and to a lesser extent Vince Young, Tarvaris Jackson) the 2006 class has yet to establish itself, either.

Posted on: March 5, 2011 12:21 pm
 

Poll of NFL sources finds gulf of opinion on QBs

Since the Combine ended Tuesday, I've been polling league sources on their rankings of the quarterbacks. I spoken or texted with seven sources (ranging from area scouts to front office executives) as of Saturday morning and have some interesting results.

In six of the seven cases, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert were the top two rated quarterbacks. Four teams had Auburn's Newton as the top passer. Three had Gabbert. All three of the Gabbert fans noted, however, that his March 17 Pro Day would significantly impact their grade on him.

Interestingly enough, the same four teams that rated Newton No. 1 had Arkansas' Ryan Mallett ranked as the third QB -- with one exception. One of these clubs had the rankings had Mallett as the No. 2 passer behind Netwon. This source is obviously less concerned about the so-called character questions of these two SEC stars than other teams.

The wildcard of the QB rankings was Washington's Jake Locker. Three teams had Locker as the 3rd rated quarterback. The other four teams rated Locker 4th (two teams), 6th and 7th, respectively in this year's QB class.

The other QBs jumping ahead of Locker for these clubs were Florida State's Christian Ponder, TCU's Andy Dalton and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick.

Given the choice between "sure," "likely," and "unlikely" five of the seven sources thought it was "likely" that all seven of the quarterbacks made the first three rounds.

To put that in perspective, seven quarterbacks being drafted in the first three rounds has happened only twice in the past 40 years (excluding the USFL.CFL-impacted Supplemental Draft in 1984).

Teams are certainly hoping that this year's group will enjoy more NFL success than the past two classes that sent this many highly-graded quarterbacks to the pros. The 1999 class featured huge busts in Tim Couch, Akili Smith and Cade McNown, among others. Donovan McNabb and, to a lesser extent, Daunte Culpepper were the success stories of the class. With the exception of Jay Cutler (and to a lesser extent Vince Young, Tarvaris Jackson) the 2006 class has yet to establish itself, either.

Posted on: February 28, 2011 7:24 pm
 

Could five QBs wind up in the first round?

We all know the value of quarterbacks raises as the draft gets closer. We also all know that significantly altering a player's grade based on Combine performance is a quick way to get a scouting staff fired.

That said, there is an increasing belief among NFL teams that as many as five quarterbacks could wind up in the first round, following strong performances from Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder at the Combine.

Mallett unquestionably has first round skills. While his struggles at the podium in front of the media has been well documented, league sources tell our own Len Pasquarelli of The Sports XChange that teams who interviewed him in Indianapolis "came away impressed with him."

Locker, too, has unquestionable talent. His career-long struggles with inaccuracy remain a concern for many, but there was no denying he enjoyed a strong throwing session at the Combine, throwing some of his most accurate passes on the deep outs, fly routes and post-corners that are generally considered the toughest throws scouts ask quarterbacks to make at the Combine. Some teams will take this as evidence that he's made strides under former pro quarterback Ken O'Brien -- and is likely to continue to do so under NFL coaching.

Perhaps the most surprising quarterback generating recent first round buzz is Ponder. His multiple arm surgeries make his medical grade the most important result from the Combine (and teams won't have these complete results for awhile), but there is no question that the former Seminole is building momentum following a Senior Bowl MVP performance and a strong showing during passing drills. Considering his intelligence, mobility and accuracy to the short to intermediate levels of the field, Ponder is viewed by some as the top true West Coast Offense quarterback in the draft.

In last week's mock draft I had only two quarterbacks (Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and Auburn's Cam Newton) projected in the first round. With virtually every one of the front office executives and head coaches acknowleding during their Combine interviews the supreme value of the quarterback position and another two months for the hype around these three to build, we could end up seeing that number more than double by April 28.

Posted on: February 22, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Gil Brandt would be "shocked" if Newton not No. 1

Last night I described Cam Newton as getting a head start on Missouri's Blaine Gabbert in the race to be the first quarterback selected in the 2011 draft.

According to Gil Brandt, the race is already over.
Brandt, an NFL.com analyst and longtime Dallas Cowboys' director of personnel, was quoted by Jimmy Burch in Monday's Star Telegram that he'd be "shocked" if Newton was not the No. 1 overall pick of the draft.

While Newton is unquestionably talented , Brandt's prediction is a bold one. Just because Newton is a spectacular athletic talent and plays the quarterback position does not necessarily mean he should be the first player selected. Newton's numerous character concerns and adjustment to a pro-style offense require significant investigation.

Perhaps Brandt and some clubs have learned enough already about Newton. I have not. I look forward to watching his interview and workout. Both will have play a considerable role in my ultimate grade on his NFL prospects.

Perhaps most importantly, it is important to note the fit that Newton may or may not have with the Carolina Panthers, who, of course, own the No. 1 overall pick.

This is a team currently built around the running game. While the Panthers could lose impending free agent DeAngelo Williams, they boast the talents of Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson and a solid run-blocking offensive line. On the one hand, adding a multi-purpose threat like Newton might seem like the perfect addition to the club. On the other hand, however, a ball control quarterback might be a better fit for a team likely to be built around the running the ball and defense -- the style of play new head coach Ron Rivera is thought to prefer.

Rivera's offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski, might also be making a huge adjustment should the Panthers elect to take Newton. Chudzinski, who was promoted to this role after serving as the tight ends coach and assistant head coach for the Chargers last season, may not have the experience with multi-purpose quarterbacks to endorse such an obvious gamble on pure athletiicsm.
 
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.


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