Category:NFL Draft
Posted on: March 5, 2012 1:18 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 4:58 pm
 

Charles 4.7-4-88 in 40 at windy UGA pro day

Georgia tight end Orson Charles ran two pedestrian 40 times at his Pro Day in Athens on Monday, but the 4.7-to-4.88 clockings in his shimmery gold track shoes won't be evaluated as "official times" because of wind gusts between 20-30 mph. Teams often adjust their individual 40 recordings based on the surface, environment (indoor/outdoor) and general weather conditions.
   Charles, NFLDraftScout.com's third-ranked tight end, plays fast with good quickness off the snap and top-end speed for the position. His height and shorter arms are considered his greatest detriment, but his ceiling might be greater than top-ranked tight end Dwayne Allen (4.89 40 at the Combine) and Coby Fleener of Stanford, who didn't run in Indianapolis because of a high ankle sprain.
   Charles' strength won't be a question either -- he pumped up 35 reps of 225 at the Scouting Combine.
   Cornerback Brandon Boykin did 16 bench-press reps on Monday but won't run until his personal pro day on April 9. Boykin has return skills and plays bigger than his 5-9, 182-pound frame. Scouts trust his speed won't be an issue, but he's coming off an injury at the Senior Bowl.
   For those looking for a flaw, Charles' blocking has been questioned, but pound for pound, there aren't many tougher than Charles in-line and he has the agility to be used in a movement-type role.
   What might be questioned is the sagacity of players opting to skip running the 40 in the controlled environment and noted fast track of Lucas Oil Stadium. Charles passed on the workout with his position group nine days ago in Indianapolis. Running on that literal level-playing field would take the guesswork and projections out of Charles' true straight-line speed in the minds of scouts.
   However, teams will conduct private workouts often with players and Charles will get that opportunity as a potential first-round pick and top-50 player.
   Charles' first such workout is scheduled with the Philadelphia Eagles, he said Monday.
   Every NFL team was represented at the workout except for Dallas and Chicago, according to Georgia's sports information staff.
Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: March 4, 2012 5:29 pm
 

Penn State DB Lynn ran at Combine with torn calf

Many players cite an old injury as a reason not to work out at the Combine. 

Penn State's D'Anton Lynn is hoping that a disappointing performance at the Combine will be disregarded by scouts due to the fact that he was attempting to compete with a torn calf, at least according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter.   

The 6-0, 206 pound Lynn was clocked at 4.77 seconds in the 40-yard dash -- the slowest time recorded by any defensive back at the Combine this year. Though he participated in the bench press (17 reps) and jumps (31.5" in the vertical and 111" in the broad jump), Lynn elected not to participate in any of the other timed events at the Combine after running the 40-yard dash.

According to Schefter's report, Lynn had planned to warm up and then decide whether to participate in drills based on how the calf felt. The injury had originally taken place during Penn State's TicketCity Bowl loss to Houston. Lynn elected to play through the injury at the Senior Bowl. He was beaten badly there, at times, any may have been wiser to take care of the injury immediately following the end of Penn State's season.

As it stands now, Lynn is expected to miss four-six weeks recovering from the injury. This will keep him from running at Penn State's Pro Day March 14, though he's hopeful to work out prior to the draft.

Considering the lack of speed and coverage ability he showed at the Senior Bowl and Combine, it may not matter if scouts were impressed with Lynn's grit in attempting to compete in drills -- only that he failed to do so at a high level when he had the opportunity.     
   
Lynn is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 32 cornerback for the 2012 draft.  
Posted on: March 4, 2012 4:20 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 4:21 pm
 

Scouts identify 5 underrated Combine performers

Now that we've had a few days to fully digest the information overload that is the annual Scouting Combine, there are a few players who haven't received enough attention for strong efforts, according to my conversations with league personnel. 

Every Combine conversation I've had with scouts has started with the obvious workout warriors -- Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe, Georgia Tech wideout Stephen Hill, Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson and other, similarly well-publicized athletes. Considering their spectacular performances, it isn't surprising to see their stocks get a bump.

According to scouts. there are plenty of others flying under the national radar whose workouts helped solidify their grades. These are five who were mentioned multiple times. 

ILB Tank Carder, TCU: Much like Boston College's Luke Kuechly, Carder has been type-cast as an instinctive, high-motor defender throughout his career but the two-time defending Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year proved to be a much better all-around athlete at the Combine than anyone expected. The 6-2, 236 pound Carder clocked in a sub 4.70 time in the 40-yard dash (4.69 seconds officially) and demonstrated his agility in the three-cone (6.89) and short-shuttle drills (4.18) that some teams place a great deal of value in when scouting linebackers. 

QB Austin Davis, Southern Miss: With NFLDraftScout.com's top four-rated quarterbacks either unable to unwilling to throw passes at the Combine, I thought one of the more fascinating elements of this year's workout would be to see which of the so-called second or third-tier passers would be able to take advantage of the extra attention. Having been one of a limited number of media members allowed inside the Lucas Oil Stadium workout for the QB workouts this year, I saw Davis pass the ball well to all levels of the field, showing surprising zip on intermediate routes and as impressive accuracy on the deep ball (a knock on his game entering the Combine) as any passer on the field.

OLB Shea McClellin, Boise State: Generally speaking, I agree with how the NFL identifies players when assigning them positions at the Combine. Several so-called 'tweeners like McClellin were asked to work out as defensive linemen. After being stunned with McClellin's progress in playing linebacker at the Senior Bowl, I was disappointed he wasn't identified as such at the Combine. His workout certainly showed off the straight-line speed (4.63) and change-of-direction skills (7.07 seconds in the three-cone drills) to handle this conversion. McClellin's speed, in fact, would have ranked him fourth among the 29 linebackers tested at the Combine -- and this is after measuring in at 6-3, 260 pounds.

RB Bernard Pierce, Temple: Pierce is one of the more interesting backs in the 2012 draft class because he's more of a finesse, zone-read back than the power option that his 6-0, 220 pound frame and school record 53 rushing touchdowns would indicate. The junior helped prove his unique athleticism with an underrated all-around performance at the Combine in which he measured in faster (4.49), quicker (7.07 seconds in the three-cone) and more explosive (123" broad jump) than some of the more highly regarded backs of this class.

CB Trevin Wade, Arizona: While officially credited with just a 4.59 time in the 40-yard dash, Wade was surprisingly cited by several league sources as having a strong Combine workout. Scouts mentioned Wade's fluidity in timed drills (4.0 seconds in the short shuttle) and position drills as more important indicators of his underrated cover-corner skills than his time in 40-yard dash. Wade was inconsistent at Arizona but finished his career on a high note with a strong senior campaign and is rated by some scouts among the top 100 prospects in the draft. 
  

Posted on: March 3, 2012 8:03 am
 

Pead, TE Robinson impress at Cincinnati Pro Day

Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead elected not to run the 40-yard dash again at Cincinnati's Pro Day Friday due to the fact that he'd already clocked an impressive time a week previous at the 2012 Scouting Combine but that didn't stop him from helping his cause, according to a source on hand for the workout. 

Cincinnati, like an increasing number of universities, offered a handy synopsis of the Pro Day workout on their official athletic website. According to their report, 28 of the 32 NFL teams attended the workout, which was run largely by the hometown Bengals' head coaches. Head coach Marvin Lewis was not in attendance but several assistant coaches were present, as was the team's director of player personnel, Duke Tobin. Among the other teams in attendance, I've been able to confirm that the Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals, and Detroit Lions were among the teams represented. 

Pead, who earned MVP honors in the Senior Bowl, was clocked at 4.25 seconds in the short-shuttle and 6.86 in the three-cone drill. Pead's times in these drills, designed to show burst and change-of-direction ability, were nearly a tenth faster than his times recorded in Indianapolis (4.32, 6.95) and would have ranked among the better times of all running backs tested there. According to the source, Pead also fared well catching passes out of the backfield and when fielding punts.

Pead currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5 running back prospect of the 2012 draft. 

While Pead was certainly the biggest name of Cincinnati's prospects, the player who helped his cause the most was 6-4, 264 pound tight end Adrien Robinson, who was clocked at 4.51 and 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Only Oklahoma's James Hanna (4.49) recorded a faster time in the event at the Combine than Robinson's 4.51. Demonstrating that he's an all-around athlete, Robinson also recorded a 39.5" vertical jump and a 11'3" broad jump -- each of which would have led all of the tight ends invited to the Combine this year. Robinson was not as impressive in the short-shuttle (4.37 seconds) and three-cone drill (7.11 seconds), putting up times that would have placed him in the middle of the Combine pack this year.

Considering his size and speed and the relative weak class of tight ends this year, the workout could have been enough to give Robinson a chance at being drafted. Having just emerged as a starter in 2011, Robinson was not invited to the Combine after catching just 12 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns as a senior and just 29 for 434 and five scores over his entire career. 

With Robinson's numbers less than eye-popping, he's definitely a diamond in the rough prospect; one who is currently ranked as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 39 tight end. Considering his workout, expect that ranking to improve significantly. 
 
Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:17 pm
 

Bounty? Saints could pay dearly in draft

The Saints are overextended financially and don't have the salary cap space to retain key fixtures on their roster. They've backed themselves into a corner with likely franchise player Drew Brees, which might cost them free-agents-to-be Carl Nicks and Marques Colston.

What to do? Reload in the draft, of course.

Not in New Orleans.

The Saints don't have a first-round pick in 2012 draft -- dealt in 2011 to get back into the first round and draft RB Mark Ingram 28th overall.

And with the NFL releasing details of the investigation into the Gregg Williams-run -- and apparently Sean Payton, GM Mickey Loomis approved -- defensive bounty system, the Saints are about to lose much, much more.

Consider that in 2007 when SpyGate punishment finally was handed down for Bill Belichick, he was fined a maximum $500,000 and the Patriots were stripped of their first-round draft pick in 2008. This for secretly filming Jets coaches from the sideline, with a video assistant having a camera confiscated as evidence.

The transgressions outlined in the NFL security investigation clearly warrant a penalty far exceeding the fine Belichick and the Patriots paid. Belichick paid 14 percent of his annual salary of $4.2 million and the Patriots coughed up another quarter-million, plus draft compensation.

New Orleans can expect Payton to be fined heavily and likely suspended at least one game. Loomis might be judged harshly considering his overseer capacity with the organization and owner Tom Benson might even act separately. Williams is now gone -- hired by the Rams in January -- but the Saints will pay the steep price.

With Goodell stumping for player safety, and the Saints coaches and players flying in the face of that platform with their actions and essentially taunting the harsh rules enforcement for illegal hits, hell to pay will most definitely mean the subtraction of assets.

If Goodell really wanted to stir the nest, he'd rescind the Saints ability to use the franchise tag for two seasons (bye, bye, Brees?).

More likely, he'll take away the team's draft picks -- second round, third round and maybe more -- and leave Loomis and Payton to figure out how to fill the roster holes left by players departing in free agency without meaningful draft picks or the scratch to be major players in veteran acquisition.

The Saints have found value late in the draft -- Colston (7th round), Jermon Bushrod (4th round), Zach Strief (7th) -- but could be in a situation where they first pick outside the top 100.

Saints 2012 draft picks
2nd round (59th overall)
3rd round (90th overall)
4th round (122nd overall)
5th round (154th overall)
6th round (166th overall) - via Redskins for Jammal Brown
6th round (167th overall) - via Dolphins for Reggie Bush
7th round (217th overall)  
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: bounty, draft, Saints
 
Posted on: March 2, 2012 2:02 pm
 

GT's Hill rising fast, has scouts retracing steps

The man who might have sent scouts scrambling to the videotape following the end of the combine earlier this week is Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill, regarded as among the so-called big winners from the Indy sessions.

Hill caught only 49 balls in three seasons in coach Paul Johnson's run-heavy triple-option offense, yet averaged 25.5 yards per reception, and clocked a blistering 4.36 40 at the combine, with a vertical jump of 39 1/2 inches.

Scouts are already dialing up former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Terance Mathis, the offensive coordinator at Savannah State and a guy who has worked diligently with Hill on route-running, for his take on the wideout.

And people are calling sprint coach Loren Seagraves, who also drew a Falcons paycheck and worked on explosive speed with Hill, and who has a ton of league contacts, for Hill insights.

"Raw in a lot of ways, but some of the stuff he does just makes your jaw drop," Mathis told The Sports Xchange. "There's so much to work with."

Hill said his role model is Detroit stud wideout Calvin Johnson, but the former Yellow Jackets player to whom he is most often compared is Demaryius Thomas, the 22nd overall choice of Denver in 2010.

Thomas was arguably more productive at the college level, with 85 catches in two seasons in Johnson's offense (120 total in three seasons), but was injury-prone and was unable to run at the '10 combine because of a broken foot. Even after he was drafted, Thomas broke the foot a second time, then sustained an Achilles tendon injury.

It's felt at this point that Hill is a tad better route-runner than was Thomas coming out of college, but that the latter might have been a little more physical.

But scouts feel that Hill has similar characteristics to Thomas, who torched the Pittsburgh secondary in Denver's playoff victory two months ago, and want to do a lot more research.

"The size and speed, obviously, are there," agreed one NFC scout. "But, outside of ordering up the tape, you don't want to fall all over yourself yet."

--By Len Pasquarelli
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:57 pm
 

2012 RB class gaining ground with GMs

The current mindset in the league is to not use a top 10 pick on a running back, given the manner in which the position is utilized now, the relatively short shelf-life, and the success teams have had in unearthing viable and productive runners in later rounds.

There was only one runner chosen in the 2011 draft, former Alabama star Mark Ingram by New Orleans, and his onetime Crimson Tide teammate, Trent Richardson, could be the lone back in the first round in two months.

Richardson, though, is seen as a top 10 selection. But while Richardson is pretty much everyone's pick as the No. 1 back, and seemingly a lock to be chosen in the top 10, as usual there remains considerable debate about who the second back off the board will be, and how high he will be tabbed.

One somewhat surprising result of the combine, beyond the fact there are some speedy prospects, is that the running back spot as a group might include more overall durability and toughness than previously believed. Even in a league where time sharing has become so prevalent, those attributes are coveted.

A few scouts noted after the combine that nearly all of the highly rated backs possess some injury history, but have logged 200 carries or more in a college season.

Even a prospect with some definite warts, like Chris Polk of Washington, averaged 276.5 rushing attempts in his final two seasons. Lamar Miller of Miami, the speediest back at the combine (4.40), had a 227-carry season.

Virginia Tech underclass prospect David Wilson, another very fast runner, has a 290-attempt season on his resume. Doug Martin from Boise State had a 263-carry season.

And the undersized LaMichael James, a player some compare to Darren Sproles and viewed more as a complementary back because of his size, averaged 257.0 carries over three seasons at Oregon.

 As one general manager noted, Richardson probably will be the lone back in the first round, certainly in the top 20, but there "will be enough runners to go around."

--By Len Pasquarelli
Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:55 pm
 

Clemson DL pipeline has NFL's attention

In each of the past five drafts, Clemson has had at least one defensive lineman selected, including four players in the first two rounds, and the streak won't end this year, despite pretty uneven results so far by the former Tigers' stars.

End Andre Branch and tackle Brandon Thompson both are highly regarded prospects, each of whom scored some points at the combine, and they can be perceived as players on the rise.

Part of what makes both attractive is their shared versatility, a quality NFL scouts clearly have not overlooked.

"The way the game is played now, with people jumping in and out of (multiple) fronts, it's a big plus for them," said one NFC area scout whose territory includes the ACC.

Branch, who had 17 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in 2011, is a hybrid-type edge defender, who might be able to play end in a 4-3 or some 3-4 outside rush linebacker. Timed at 4.70, Branch looks to have great upfield burst, and his 77 tackles last season indicate he is also active versus the run.

He could go off the board in the first round.

Maybe more surprising is Thompson, a player who some teams told The Sports Xchange might still squeeze into the very bottom of the first round.

The second round is more realistic, but Thompson seems to be growing on people. The key for the 314-pound Thompson, who had an excellent week at the Senior Bowl but did not run in Indianapolis, is that a few clubs, like New England, feel he can play the pure "five-technique" end spot in a 3-4, and perhaps slide inside to tackle to log some 4-3 snaps.

Thompson had just 4.5 sacks in his college career, but scouts contend there is some pass-rush potential there, and that Thompson isn't just a nose tackle-type player.

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