Posted on: March 30, 2010 1:29 pm

Realistic expectations for Dez Bryant's Pro Day

While at Sam Bradford's Pro Day yesterday, I spoke with many scouts, coaches and league executives about Dez Bryant's workout today. Every team I spoke to yesterday (about a dozen) planned to simply continue their trip from Norman to Lufkin, Texas for Bryant's workout and on to Austin Wednesday for Texas' Pro Day.

Scouts had varied expectations for Bryant today.

One scout, who loves Bryant's athleticism and has compared his leaping and YAC ability to Randy Moss on several occasions in the past, felt that Bryant is nonetheless going to put forth a less than eye-popping time in the 40-yard dash.

Said the scout, "I've heard talk that he's going to run in the low 4.4s or even faster. If he does, that'll help surprise me. He's not that fast on film. He's more of a 4.55 guy, but he's like [Anquan] Boldin in that way; his straight-line speed is misleading." 

The scout did expect Bryant to look "very good" running routes and catching the ball.

Posted on: March 16, 2010 4:35 pm

Rutgers OT Anthony Davis will try again 3/30

Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis, considered by some scouts to be this year's best all-around OL propsect, will be working out for scouts on campus March 30, according to an email sent by his agent to NFL teams.

The 6-5, 323 pound Davis elected to leave Rutgers after his junior season after being given a first round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee. While team's love his combination of size and agility, Davis has a history of letting his weight get the better of him. Concerns about his commitment were further flamed when Davis struggled in interviews and the workout session at the Combine.

Davis was expected to be the star of Rutgers Pro Day March 10, but was suffering from a hamstring injury and the stomach flu. He arrived at the Pro Day, spoke to some teams, but was told to go home after vomiting, according to a report from NFL.com's Jason La Canfora.

Davis is a better athlete than he appeared during drills at the Combine. While an offensive tackle's time in the 40-yard dash is not necessarily an indicator of his ability to block, scouts weren't pleased that Davis was timed at 5.44 seconds in the event. Only two players who weighed less than Davis were slower. Those two, Texas' Adam Ulatoski and North Carolina's Kyle Jolly are each currently rated as potential undrafted free agents by NFLDraftScout.com.

Posted on: March 16, 2010 3:03 pm

Bryant's Pro Day switches wearing thin

Oklahoma State wide receiver is changing his Pro Day date. Again.

Bryant had originally planned to workout for scouts at the Combine. A hamstring injury prevented that.

Scouts had hoped he'd be able to workout at Oklahoma State's Pro Day March 9. Bryant was still recovering from the injury.

Bryant re-scheduled the Pro Day for March 25, the same day as Oklahoma's Sam Bradford's personal workout. Now that Bradford has changed his Pro Day date to lessen the conflict with the NFL Owners' Meetings, Bryant is switching his workout again.

Except this time, Oklahoma State isn't willing to help out. And that could be big trouble for Bryant's stock with NFL teams.

According to Adam Schefter's report here, Bryant and his representatives attempted to schedule a Pro Day on the Oklahoma State campus for March 30 - the day after Sam Bradford's workout and the day before the dozens of NFL scouts are expected to travel south to Austin, Texas for Colt McCoy and the rest of the Longhorns' Pro Day.

The Oklahoma State athletic department, however, refused to allow Bryant to schedule another Pro Day on campus. Remember, this is a football program, whose head coach, Mike Gundy, had previously been unabashedly supportive of his players.

That Gundy and the OSU athletic program are not willing to help their former All-American receiver will be interpreted by some as proof Bryant, while incredibly talented, isn't worth the trouble.

That perception could lead a player with top ten talent to tumble down the draft board come April.
Posted on: February 28, 2010 2:27 pm

Impressions from second QB-WR session -QB Report

I just got back from the second (and final) throwing session of the Combine and I can tell you this... Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson will be rising up draft boards with his performance today.

With highly touted passers Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow and Dan LeFevour all sitting out the throwing session, Robinson was among several passers who took advantage of the spotlight.

Robinson showed good footwork and balance dropping back -- a question mark considering he's coming from a spread offense -- and was consistently accurate to all levels of the field. He zipped intermediate slants and dig routes and showed plenty of drive on the deep out. As a perfect example of why quarterbacks should throw at the Combine, Robinson scored points with scouts on the accuracy of his deep ball (good trajectory, outside shade) despite none of his deep passes actually being caught by his receivers.

Arguably the second most impressive quarterback on this day was surprisingly Ole Miss' Jevan Snead. Snead was as accurate on this day as I've ever seen him -- hitting receivers in stride consistently and showing off his good arm strength. The problem with Snead is that he knows he has a good arm and he relies on it.  He carries the ball a bit low and has a very quick release, but he rarely stepped into his throws today, relying almost exclusively on his arm. Snead has intriguing tools -- and he clearly helped his cause today by showing them -- but quarterback coaches I've spoken with in the past have pointed this out as an issue.

Cincinnati's Tony Pike was inconsistent today. The opposite of Snead, Pike has steps into his throws and has a nice over-the-top delivery, which is enhanced by his 6-5, 243 pounds. However, he sprayed the ball today, especially when throwing outside the numbers. He got better as the day went on and didn't do anything to lower his stock, but he certainly didn't seize the opportunity, either.

Under the radar quarterbacks Thaddeus Lewis (Duke), Riley Skinner (Wake Forest) and John Skelton (Fordham) showed why they are rated as they are. Lewis was inconsistent to most levels of the field, except on the deep ball - where his wounded ducks forced receivers to slow and, at times even stop their routes, to wait for the ball. Skelton was wildly erratic, especially early in the gauntlet drills. His high and wide throws consistently forced receivers to adjust, throwing off their balance and timing during drills.

Posted on: February 15, 2010 8:03 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2010 1:34 pm

Colt McCoy will attempt to throw at Combine

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy has been throwing 40-50 passes a day in an attempt to be ready to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine next week, he told media on hand Monday to see him presented with the Davey O'Brien award as the nation's top quarterback.

“I see the doctors every week,” McCoy said. “I go through the rehab process every day. I’m healing much quicker than normal.”

McCoy was checked by renowned surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, after sustaining the injury in the National Championship game. It was determined that he would not need surgery. However, since this is the second time McCoy has been sidelined with a nerve injury in his shoulder, scouts are concerned that this will be a recurring problem in the future. He suffered a pinched nerve in his neck as a freshman that knocked him out of the loss to Kansas State and limited him two weeks later against Texas A&M.

McCoy's ability to throw for scouts had been in question since the fifth play of the national championship game when he absorbed a big hit from Alabama defensive end Brandon Deaderick. While not in great pain at the time of the injury, McCoy compained that his arm felt "dead" and Texas did not allow him to return to the field. 

His career 70.3% completion percentage and NCAA-record 45 career wins are numbers scouts like. On the field, they like his moxie, mobility and short to intermediate range accuracy.

McCoy is currently rated as the 3rd best quarterback available in the 2010 NFL Draft by NFLDraftScout.com, behind juniors Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) and Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame). If he can prove his health, McCoy is likely to be selected in the second round. 

Posted on: February 11, 2010 6:11 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 6:14 pm

Michael Johnson Performance Boasts Big Names

I traveled last year to Athletes Performance Institute in Tempe, Arizona to get a firsthand look at the training that goes on prior the Combine. Following this trip, I also spoke to gold medal winner and world record holder Michael Johnson about the performance center which bears his name and his work with high profile NFL prospects prior to the Combine.

Johnson boasted an impressive class last year, including first round picks Michael Crabtree, Knowshon Moreno and Brandon Pettigrew.

Some of his detractors were quick to point out that Moreno and Pettigrew were disappointingly slow in workouts and that Crabtree, Johnson's most celebrated prospect, never did work out for scouts.

Those detractors must not have carried much weight, however, as Johnson boasts an impressive group of prospects this year -- even more impressive than last's year's crop.

Among those signed up to work with Johnson is Ndamukong Suh, LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell, Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer, Texas pass rusher Sergio Kindle, Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, Mississippi defensive end Greg Hardy and his former teammate, Dexter McCluster, among others.

A strong showing by these athletes in workouts this year not only will boost their own stock, it could further improve Michael Johnson's profile within the pre-combine training community.

Posted on: December 30, 2009 1:54 pm

Suh dominant, but may not be today

Let's be real clear about this from the start -- NFLDraftScout.com rated Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh as the number one senior prospect in August. He's been atop every one of the many mock drafts I've penned already this year. I see no reason why he won't be atop every other 2010 mock draft I write. I don't know of anyone who touted him as a Heisman candidate before I did.

In fact, Bo Pelini and Suh's family might be the only ones higher on this young man's ability than I am.

And yet, I think he's going to struggle to make his typically dominant impact against Arizona today in the Holiday Bowl.

The Wildcats feature a true spread offense. Rarely does quarterback Nick Foles hang on to the ball for long, one of the reasons why Arizona has allowed only 11 sacks on the year (tied for 10th fewest in the FCS).

One could make the point that many of the offenses Suh faced in the Big 12 also feature the spread offense, including Texas, who Suh so infamously ravaged in the Big 12 Championship. Those teams, however, didn't have a month to prepare.

Against top teams with more typical pro-style offenses (Virginia Tech, Colorado, Kansas State, Iowa State), Suh averaged an eye-popping 7.5 tackles, a sack, 2 PBUs and .75 blocked kicks per game.

The two Big 12 teams using a true spread offense as wide as the one the Wildcats will use today were Kansas and Texas Tech. In those two contests Suh was held relatively in check, averaging only 3.5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.

The spread offense was designed to get the ball out of the hands of the quarterback quickly to combat dominant penetrating defensive linemen just like Suh.

If he isn't as dominant today as he has been in the past, don't chalk it up to a lack of effort or his being overrated. NFL scouts certainly be.

Posted on: April 8, 2009 3:34 pm

RB Wells, DE Orakpo Going Oppsite Directions


 With only 2 1/2 weeks until the draft, two of this classes' biggest names are going in opposite directions -- and their stock fluctuation could prove to be one of the real stories of the draft.

Anyone who has watched Beanie Wells throughout his career with the Buckeyes knows of his talent. Physically-speaking, he is clearly the best RB in this class, though questions about his consistency and toughness have caused many (including me) to rank Georgia's Knowshon Moreno as this year's best back.Wells, frankly, was disappointing even before the mysterious leg injury that robbed him of his effectiveness last season.

Scouts diligently reviewing Well's 2007 film, however, see a different back. A Larry Johnson, perhaps even Adrian Peterson-like combination of size and power. I've taken some angry comments from Packers' fans due to my projecting Wells to Green Bay in my latest mock draft. Certainly the team has other, greater needs, but there are many teams within the top ten considering Wells. His physical tools are just so great that some team, scouts tell me, is likely to pull the trigger earlier than most are anticipating.

On the flipside, Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo seems to be slipping down boards. I've spoken to scouts who operate for teams using the 4-3 and 3-4 alignments and each club is souring on the Longhorn pass-rusher. The more film teams do on Orakpo, the more they are left wondering if he is explosive and persistent enough to consistently generate a pass rush against NFL left tackles or, for that matter, agile enough to drop back into coverage. Orakpo's imposing build is impressive to look at, but belies his career-long struggles with durability, as well; another element that scouts are mentioning as a reason he could slip out of the top ten -- and perhaps considerably farther than that.


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