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Tag:Arkansas
Posted on: February 26, 2011 4:05 pm
 

Mallett only adds to storm with refusal

Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett repeatedly refused to answer questions about his alleged drug use -- at least for the organized media inside Lucas Oil Stadium. 

His only responses to the questions were that his answers were between "he and NFL teams" and even insinuated that the reports had been planted.

Moments later, on Sirius NFL Radio with Chris Miller, Pat Kirwan and Howard Balzer, Mallett characterized the questions about him as "untrue."

If the allegations are untrue, Mallett could have saved himself a great deal of bad press simply by saying so to the organized media, as well.

Posted on: February 26, 2011 10:15 am
 

Confirmed -- Mallett to answer questions today

According to an NFL spokesperson, Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett will take questions from the media at the Combine today. 

It might seem obvious that Mallett would be made available. Nearly every one of the 330 players invited to the Combine take questions from the media throughout the week and considering the Second Team All-SEC quarterback's production, talent and potential high draft ranking, he certainly is one of the more high-profile players in this year's draft class.

With a few flurries of character questions growing into a full-on blizzard of red flags, including allegations of drug use, there were some in the media room openly questioning whether the NFL might "protect" Mallett and not make him available to reporters.

As it stands, Mallett will get his opportunity to answer questions, perhaps shedding some light on the controversy that could push an obvious first round talent considerably further down the board.

Mallett, projected at one time as high as No. 8 in my first round projection to the Tennessee Titans is no longer in my first round.
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 13, 2011 3:14 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2011 3:17 pm
 

Interviews most underrated component of Combine

The workouts get all of the attention and savvy NFL draft followers know that the medical grades are actually the most important part of the Combine.

One critical piece of the Combine pie that gets very little exposure is the player interview process.

In the past, the interviews teams get with players have only earned attention when something bizarre occurs -- like last year when the Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland asked then-Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant about his mother's ... uhhh... profession.

In reality, however, this is an integral part of the Combine.

Teams are attempting to learn through a 15 minute interview if the young man sitting opposite them is one of the rare individuals who will actually work harder after signing a multi-million dollar contract.

When I visited Athletes Performance for an article two years ago on the process high-ranking athletes go through in Combine preparation, everyone there was willing to talk about the revolutionary techniques in exercise, nutrition and rehabilitation. Few, however, talk about the significant coaching that players go through to prepare for interviews.

Based on polling various scouts throughout the league, here are 15 high profile players who have as much riding on their interviews with teams as they do the other more hyped components of the Combine.

Players are listed alphabetically.
  • Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
  • Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
  • Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
  • Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
  • A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
  • Greg Little, WR, North Carolina
  • Jake Locker, QB, Washington
  • Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
  • Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
  • Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
  • Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
  • Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
  • Tyron Smith, OT, USC
  • Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
  • Titus Young, WR, Boise State


Posted on: January 23, 2011 6:00 pm
 

QBs, OTs ones to watch in Mobile

NFL scouts, front office executives and coaches are heading to Mobile, Alabama today to scout every one of the prospects in the 2011 Senior Bowl.

Much of their attention, however, will be focused on two positions -- quarterback and offensive tackle.

As two of the premium positions in today's NFL, quarterback and offensive tackle are typically among the areas to focus on. The 2011 class is especially competitive at these positions, however, making the battles between the top-rated passers and blockers all the more intriguing.

Consider that while Washington quarterback Jake Locker remains a likely first round prospect, I've spoken to scouts whose teams currently rank other seniors just as highly. For some teams, a strong week by TCU's Andy Dalton or Iowa's Ricky Stanzi could vault them ahead of Locker.

The "second tier" quarterback talent available in this draft, in fact, is one of the year's hidden strengths. Considering the risk I see in Locker, Auburn's Cam Newton and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, it might prove wiser for teams with quarterback needs to look elsewhere in the first round and grab a Dalton or Stanzi (or Devlin, Ponder, Enderle) a frame or two later.

The competition is perhaps even more intense at offensive tackle. Having spoken to representatives from four clubs in the past two weeks about the tackle class, I've yet to find any consensus as to the order they will (or should) be drafted.

If there is a "favorite" it is probably Colorado's Nate Solder. I, however, have serious reservations about his technique, especially against speed rushers. He's expected to work out very, very well and therefore build some momentum as the draft approaches, but he certainly has flaws.

Unfortunately, for teams needing tackles, so too do the other top rated tackles. Boston College's Anthony Castonzo lacks the bulk most teams prefer. He may be the best pass blocking left tackle in the draft, but he's struggled to generate movement in the running game. Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi is the opposite. He can dominate as a drive blocker, but gets too high in pass protection and doesn't have the footwork, in my opinion, to remain on the left side in the NFL. I've rated Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod as the top tackle throughout much of the year, but his wide shoulder, narrow hip makes him top-heavy and therefore inherently vulnerable to bull rushes and good double-moves. He, too, might be best served as a right tackle. USC junior Tyron Smith has the feet and wingspan teams want in a left tackle, but he's quite raw and remains a projection, having played right tackle throughout his abbreviated career with the Trojans.

The beauty of any all-star game is that strong performances there can impact player rankings. 

For this year's Senior Bowl, the rankings of senior prospects - especially at quarterback and offensive tackle -- could wind up completely re-shuffled.
Posted on: January 22, 2011 8:21 pm
 

Ohio State DE Heyward undergoes surgery

Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward will miss the upcoming Senior Bowl and perhaps much more after undergoing elbow surgery, according to a report from Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch.

According to May's report, Heyward underwent surgery at renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews' facility in Alabama. It is not immediately known when Heyward will be back to 100%.

The 6-5, 288 pound Heyward hyperextended his elbow in the Buckeyes' 31-26 victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

Heyward was terrific in that contest, clearly struggling with pain throughout much of the game, but enjoying as dominant of a performance as we saw from any defensive lineman throughout the bowl games. He was officially credited with six tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack, two QB hurries and a pass breakup. Heyward earned First Team All Big Ten honors this season with 48 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, a safety and an interception he returned 80 yards against Miami.

Posted on: January 5, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Focus was on Mallett, but Heyward stole the show

NFL scouts watching last night's Sugar Bowl may have tuned in primarily to watch Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett play in what is widely expected to be his final collegiate game, but a funny thing happened along the way -- Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward stole the show.

Heyward was dominant, lining at RDE, LDE and defensive tackle and beating virtually every blocker the Razorbacks put in front of him, including All-SEC offensive tackle DeMarcus Love, a potential first round pick.

Heyward, the son of the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, played inspired football last night on the same field in which his father had once starred at fullback for the New Orleans Saints. Ironhead succumbed to a long battle with brain cancer and passed away in May of 2006 at the age of 39.

After a breakout junior season in which young Heyward registered 46 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks while earning Second Team All Big-Ten honors, expectations were high. Heyward's production in 2010 was similar in tackles (42) and tackles for loss (10) but with only 2.5 sacks on the season, many characterized his regular season as a disappointment. Big Ten coaches certainly did not, as they voted Heyward to the First-Team all-conference team.

Against the Razorbacks, however, Heyward was a terror, registering six tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack. On numerous other occasions, his rare combination of burst upfield, stellar strength and recognition forced Arkansas ball-carriers to alter their running, presenting Buckeye teammates with easy tackles near the line of scrimmage.

Heyward lacks the burst off the edge that teams operating out of the 4-3 defense are looking for in a first round defensive end. However, with enough burst to occassionally surprise pass blockers, an effective swim move and most importantly excellent size and strength, Heyward rates as one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in the draft.

Considering that roughly half of the NFL listed the 3-4 scheme as their base defense this season, there should be plenty of suitors for Heyward early in the draft - including the Baltimore Ravens - who I currently project as taking Heyward in the first round.

Posted on: January 4, 2011 6:37 pm
 

Mallett vs. Buckeye secondary intriguing matchup

Playing the day after Stanford's Andrew Luck torched a supremely talented Virginia Tech secondary for 287 yards and four touchdowns, Arkansas junior Ryan Mallett may have his hands full matching that type of production against the Buckeyes.

Mallett has actually been even more statistically impressive in 2010 than Luck -- throwing for more yards and touchdowns during the regular season -- a function of his own talents as well as those of his head coach Bobby Petrino.

Petrino's high octane power spread offense has taken the SEC by storm, ranking second behind only Auburn in scoring offense (scoring an average of 37.3 points per game) and leading the conference with 338.4 passing yards per game -- a 64.2 yard advantage over Kentucky.

Those outside of Big Ten country may be surprised to learn that the Buckeyes' success this season has every bit as much to do with their defense as it does with Terrelle Pryor and their highly publicized offense.

Ohio State, in fact, is allowing only 156.25 passing yards a game and has recorded 2.5 times as many interceptions (18) as touchdowns through the air (seven).

Ultimately, scouts don't care how many yards (or touchdowns, for that matter) Mallett throws against Ohio State. Scouts recall the production that Brian Brohm and Stefan LeFors enjoyed at the University of Louisville under Petrino's tutelage.

Rather, scouts will be looking for ball placement -- a skill in which Mallett has proven talented, but not extraordinarily so. Mallett's accuracy is generally good when he's comfortable in the pocket, but scouts want to see if it nosedives when he's forced to move his feet as it did earlier in the year against Alabama.

Luck's accuracy -- in the pocket and on the move -- was his most impressive feat last night against the Hokies.

If Mallett can match Luck's success, he could join him as an elite prospect.

If he continues to struggle in this area, however, scouts may have no choice but to question if today's ultra-aggressive defenses won't further expose him in the NFL.

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