Tag:NOrth Carolina
Posted on: February 26, 2011 5:47 pm
 

Quinn's answers could push him ahead of Bowers

Talent evaluators who have done the tape on defensive ends Robert Quinn and Da'Quan Bowers know that the former Tar Heel is the more explosive of the two pass rushers.

That fact is the primary reason why Quinn could leapfrog Bowers as the draft's top defensive end and potentially even the No. 1 pick in the draft.

There are two primary areas of concern with Quinn -- each of which he addressed in today's interview at the Combine.

The most important is his health.

As this excellent article by Andew Miller of the South Carolina Post and Courier explains, during his senior season in high school, Quinn underwent emergency surgery to deal with a brain tumor. The tumor, which was found to be benign, was causing Quinn headaches and even blackouts. It too close to Quinn's brain to be removed completely, so it remains a cause of concern for NFL teams.

Quinn, however, is not concerned. He takes a CT scan every six months now and finds himself "falling asleep" each inside the chamber when asked to do so. He also claims that he hasn't had a headache "since high school [following the surgery]," as well.

The other concern with Quinn, of course, is the fact that he, along with defensive tackle Marvin Austin and wide receiver Greg Little, was suspended for the entire 2010 season.

Scouts relayed to me that the UNC staff had told them Quinn was "supposed to be a very good kid" but some questioned whether the fact that Quinn is still viewed as a top prospect despite the suspension made him less concerned about the impact his suspension had on the Tar Heels' disappointing 2010 season.

Quinn seemed surprised when asked if he cared about his suspension.

"I definitely cared," he said. "Watching the whole season, especially when UNC played LSU and I went down to support them, seeing our guys run on to the field, in the middle of the game I was about in tears in the stands. I made a selfish mistake and couldn't be out there..."

Posted on: February 25, 2011 11:44 am
 

UNC WR Greg Little impressive, apologetic

Having been suspended for the entire 2010 season and not selected to play in any of the post-season all-star games, North Carolina wide receiver Greg Little needs a strong showing at the Combine to refresh the memories of NFL scouts of who he is -- both on and off the field.

Little won't workout until Sunday, but this morning he passed the first of his many tests, humbly answering the media's questions about his suspension and preparation for the NFL.

Asked if there was something the NCAA or North Carolina could have done anything different in educating he and his teammates about the ramifications of dealing prematurely with an agent, Little refused to pass the blame.

"I knew what I was doing was wrong... It was stupidity on my part."

Little measured in at 6-2 and 231 pounds. He characterized himself as "in the best shape of my life" and credited his conditioning to working with an MMA fighter.

Little said he did not feel any additional pressure to perform well in Indianapolis this week, explaining that "some people don't perform at their best when they feel pressure. As long as you're prepared, you shouldn't feel pressure. I've prepared well for opportunity."

Little will have another opportunity to workout for scouts at North Carolina's Pro Day, March 30th. Having been suspended for the year, there was speculation by some in the media that he would not be allowed to work out there.

Scouts know Little is talented. Despite having never played the same position in consecutive seasons, his natural running skills made him a big play threat at North Carolina and one of the better after-the-catch receivers in the 2011 draft.

Posted on: February 24, 2011 11:41 am
 

Did John Fox leak Broncos plan for No. 2 overall?

Denver Broncos head coach John Fox may have unintentionally leaked the direction his team will be going with the No. 2 overall pick.

The Broncos need help on the defensive line. Ranking dead last in the NFL in total defense, including 31st against the run will do that to a club. The team is also transitioning back to a 4-3 defense.

Fox sound excited about the impending healthy return of pass rusher Elvis Dumervil. He twice cited the fact that Dumervil "had 17 sacks" and erased any doubt that Dumervil would be returning back to defensive end, as he had played prior to former head coach Josh McDaniels' switching the Broncos to a 3-4 defense.

The surprise came moments later when he described his feelings about Broncos' 2009 first round pick Robert Ayers, a defensive end at the University of Tennessee, who struggled the past two seasons as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Fox, when asked what he thought of Ayers and how he fit in with his defensive scheme, "I saw him [Ayers] as a 4-3 defensive end. We've got him penciled in as a defensive end. I have the utmost confidence that he'll be a productive player for us this season."

If Fox does, indeed, have the "utmost confidence" in Ayers and is comfortable with Dumervil's return after a torn pectoral muscle sidelined him all of last year, the Broncos will likely be looking at defensive tackle with the No. 2 overall pick rather than defensive end Da'Quan Bowers from Clemson or Robert Quinn from North Carolina.

Fox wouldn't go into specifics about this year's defensive tackle group, but seemed less than enthusiastic about his team's current defensive tackles.

Auburn's Nick Fairley and Alabama's Marcell Dareus are considered by most scouts to be top five prospects. Both have the size and physicality to be an immediate upgrade inside for the Broncos.
Posted on: February 23, 2011 11:12 pm
 

Who'll Run Fastest? My position by position take

As I've noted previously, the most important element of the Scouting Combine to NFL teams lies with the medical testing and interviews.

The most entertaining part of the Combine, however, is of course, the athletic drills. The 40-yard dash, in particularly, has taken on a life of its own as the Combine's preeminent drill.

Ask five NFL scouts to predict who will be the fastest player in Indianapolis this year and you might get five different names. Rather than just identify one or five prospects who could turn in blazing times, I thought I'd give you my pick for each position.

Disagree? Perhaps in the greatest example of how big the NFL Combine has become, you can literally put your money where your mouth is and make prop bets through Bodog.com.

I didn't make any bets. If I had, these would have been my picks.

QB: Jake Locker, Washington -- I'm picking a bit of an upset from the start. Cam Newton is considered the favorite by most to the fastest and perhaps he'll prove he is. I expect each of them to run in the 4.5 range.

RB: Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech -- It is too bad that Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones is still recovering from a broken bone, as I would have loved to have picked the D-II star to shock the world here. The world will have to wait for his Pro Day. If Williams runs the 4.4 or better time I expect, he could make a push for the late first round, just like former Cal star Jahvid Best did last year.

WR: Ricardo Lockett, Fort Valley State -- Despite the fact that he's a D-II prospect, Lockett's explosive speed at 6-3, 212 pounds makes him a well known commodity to many scouts. Lockette has publicly said he hopes to challenge Chris Johnson's 4.24 second time from 2008. Abilene Christian's Edmund Gates, Troy's Jerrel Jernigan, Boise State's Titus Young and Maryland's Torrey Smith can also fly, making wide receiver the year's most competitive group.

TE: Virgil Green, Nevada -- If anyone might have wondered why the Wolfpack lost only one game last year, you can point to the spectacular athleticism of Green, OLB Moch and, of course, QB Colin Kaepernick. Green could wind up in the 4.5s at 6-4 and 250 pounds.

OL: Nate Solder, Colorado -- USC's Tyron Smith is a spectacular athlete, but so too is Solder. There are some who believe he'll produce results similar to the ones that pushed former Central Michigan star Joe Staley into the first round. Staley was credited with a 4.78 second time in the 40 at 6-6, 306 pounds.

DL: Robert Quinn, North Carolina -- With nearly a full year to prepare for these workouts, as well as jaw-dropping athleticism to begin with, Quinn is going to be impressive. Perhaps that's why I listed him as my No. 5 overall prospect in the 2011 draft and have argued for months that he's a more explosive pass rusher than Da'Quan Bowers.

LB: Dontay Moch, Nevada -- Moch stunned scouts last spring when he was clocked in at 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash. I'm not so sure he can match that time on Indianapolis' notoriously slow track, but he should lap the field in a relatively weak year for linebackers.

CB: Demarcus Van Dyke, Miami -- LSU's Patrick Peterson told the media that his goal in the 40-yard dash was in the 4.2s. Van Dyke might actually accomplish this rare feat.

S: Rahim Moore, UCLA -- I'm not as high on Moore as many are, but there is no denying his pure athleticism. He could be one of the few safeties in this class that can break the 4.50 mark.

Posted on: February 23, 2011 12:57 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2011 12:58 pm
 

Combine Countdown -- Illinois ILB Martez Wilson

Continuing my week-long feature on prospects at each position that have more on the line at the Indianapolis Scouting Combine than most, I present Illinois junior inside linebacker Martez Wilson.

Wilson is NFLDraftScout.com's top rated inside linebacker for the 2011 draft. A highly touted prep star, he signed with Illinois with much fanfare, but until the 2010 season had been considered a bit of a disappointment. Wilson's production shot up in his junior season, however. He went from recording 73 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in his first starting season to 112 stops, 11.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He also contributed three forced fumbles, an interception and a blocked kick, earning First-Team All-Big Ten accolades.

At an estimated 6-4, 250 pounds, Wilson certainly possesses the prototypical size to man the inside linebacker position in the NFL. Athletic enough to beat the back to the sideline as a true 4-3 Mike and physical enough to take on blockers as a 3-4 ILB, Wilson is one of a scant few in this year's relatively weak class capable of starring in either scheme.  Some teams even feel that Wilson has the natural pass rush skills and agility in coverage to warrant developing as an outside linebacker in either scheme.

For all of his obvious assets, however, Wilson has a lot riding on his Combine performance. Certainly scouts want to see if the burst and agility seen on tape is replicated in workouts.

More importantly, teams need to investigate the neck injury which sidelined Wilson for all but the opener of the 2009 season. Wilson registered nine tackles against Missouri, but suffered a herniated disk and was granted a medical redshirt. Considering the collisions he'll face as an NFL linebacker, pro teams' medical staffs aren't going to necessarily give Wilson medical clearance just because Illinois' did.

Teams are also going to want to talk to Wilson regarding his sudden jump in production. Is he a player coming into his own or is he motivated by the big NFL contract? Teams will attempt to find the answer to all of these questions this week in Indianapolis.

Should Wilson pass the medical, interview and athletic questions this week, he has a chance to slip into the late first round. Wilson's value could be enhanced simply because he is viewed by many clubs as the clear-cut top rated ILB. The drop to Michigan State's Greg Jones and North Carolina's Quan Sturdivant (NFLDraftScout.com's next two highest rated ILBs) is significant. Also significant is the fact that Wilson has the experience to play inside or out. He played outside for the Illini in 2008 before making the switch to the middle for his abbreviated 2009 campaign, as well as this past season.

Though inside linbebackers have traditionally dropped a bit on draft day, the Oakland Raiders made former Alabama star Rolando McClain the No. 8 overall pick last year. There have been eight inside linebackers drafted in the first round since the 2000 draft.
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 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: 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


 
 
 
 
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