Posted on: February 27, 2012 5:37 pm
Arizona State inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict entered the Combine needing to answer questions about his maturity and athleticism.
He may have failed at both.
Burfict raised more than a few eye-brows when he blamed the ASU coaching staff (which was led by former two-time NFL head coach Dennis Erickson) for his inconsistent play in 2011 during his interview with the media Sunday.
He then proceeded to run slower than any other linebacker tested at the Combine in the 40-yard dash, registering a 5.09 second time that was beaten by 36 of the 48 defensive linemen including 346 pound Dontari Poe. A troubling lack of overall explosion was also shown with a 30" vertical jump, a number beaten by all but two linebackers in Indianapolis. Burfict was tied by Montana's Caleb McSurdy for second to last in the event, beating Southern California's Chris Galippo (29.5") by just half an inch.
Characterized as an elite talent deserving of first round consideration by some in the media, Burfict is rated as the No. 88 prospect in the draft by NFLDraftScout.com and that may be generous.
Frankly, few teams may be willing to invest anything higher than a Day Three selection in the boom or bust linebacker considering his lackluster performance.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 2:13 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 4:52 pm
Tackling machine. Great instincts. Field general. Luke Kuechly already had all the buzz words typically attributed to the top inside linebacker prospect in every draft.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 10:19 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 10:20 am
INDIANAPOLIS -- Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe had distinguished himself from a deep DT class primarily because of his size -- 6-4, 346 -- and in that he's a natural fit as a nose tackle in a league with few built for that part.
Monday he stood out in another way -- by bench-pressing 225 pounds 44 times, the best at the 2012 Scouting Combine but seven short of the recognized event mark.
Poe made good on his prediction of pushing up 225 at least 40 times.
How the feat of strength affects his draft status is unpredictable in that the deep, talented crop of defensive linemen will set up something of a "What's your Flavor?" scenario for evaluators.
For example, Poe's bulk, superhero strength and surprising agility might convince teams he's much more than just a nose tackle.
Scouts consider him an athletic freak and his combination of upper- and lower-body strength implies that comparisons to Ravens' All-Pro five-technique defensive end Haloti Ngata have some merit.
Ngata was the ninth overall pick and it's possible Poe will be pushed up the board because of his rare collection of skills and natural size. The Panthers own the ninth pick in 2012 and are definitely in the market for interior D-line help. They've already set up a meeting with 323-pound Michael Brockers (LSU) and are sure to consider Poe.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 3:23 pm
INDIANAPOLIS -- Justin Bethel of Presbyterian is the first player from the tiny Clinton, S.C., school to be invited to the Scouting Combine. A 5-11, 196-pound defensive back, he projects to cornerback but has the range to slide to safety.
But bet your socks the Blue Hose star -- yes, that's the Presbyterian team name -- will find his way into a role on special teams.
He blocked nine kicks in four seasons and said he was just as prolific in high school with his 76 3/4-inch wingspan.
"My senior year I had four or five blocks," he said. "I don't know. It's just something I've had a knack … I get a real good start-off coming off the edge, two or three steps I'm jumping. Because of my kind of long body I can get there. So it's just a knack for it. It's something I've been doing."
Football has almost always been secondary for Bethel. He was more interested in carving chicken than dissecting Xs and Os.
"To tell you the truth, I got a half-scholarship (offer) from Charleston Southern. But I was like, I'll wait," he said. "It was funny, because I wasn't even planning on playing football after high school. I was going to go to Johnson & Wells for culinary arts. Because I had taken culinary classes for the past three years in high school. But I would have had to pay for it. Football was free. Football vs. having to pay for it. I said, I'll take the free."
Posted on: February 26, 2012 3:06 pm
INDIANAPOLIS -- Janoris Jenkins has plenty to prove along his winding path to the NFL.
Many of the answers he must provide for the decision-makers of the 32 teams in the league before the draft will require his employer to invest more faith in Jenkins' words than they will dollars in his talent. His forthright media session, unabashedly recounting his misdeeds and recent talks with NFL teams, made Jenkins sound like a player grateful he still has a chance to cash in on his skills despite off-field ills.
"I think about my mom a lot," said Jenkins "and my kids."
He has four children, including three boys, three years old and younger.
More than he wants NFL teams to hear his contrition and believe him when he says "I'm done with (marijuana) forever, I can't do it," he wants Janoris Jenkins Jr. to be proud of his father and his name.
Recognized as one of the premiere talents at the cornerback position along with two All-SEC juniors, Morris Claiborne of LSU and Alabama's Dre' Kirkpatrick, Jenkins past has him on shaky footing with general managers and coaches placing a premium on "football character."
"We talked to Janoris at the Senior Bowl and plan to talk to some other guys here who've had some off-the-field situations," said Lions general manager Martin Mayhew. "We evaluate those (players) on an individual basis. The key thing is to go into it with an open mind. We just go into it, have a conversation with them about their past and about their future. Really, that's what's really important -- is what the future is."
Mayhew said the no-holds barred Jenkins was "an impressive young man."
Jenkins had been a high-profile peer in the nation's preeminent conference until first-year Florida coach kicked him off the team days before the 2011 NFL Draft. Jenkins was arrested on misdemeanor marijuana charges, his second drug-related arrest in three months and third in 23 months, and Muschamp sent him packing.
In May 2009, he was arrested and Tasered by police who couldn't break up a fight involving five other people. In January 2011 he was arrested when police caught him rolling a cannabis cigarette in a bathroom stall at a Gainesville nightclub.
After a meeting, Muschamp said he and Jenkins agreed it was in his best interest "to move ahead."
Instead of playing in front of 95,000 fans at home games in Florida, Jenkins said he often watched the Gators on Saturdays because he was playing on Thursday nights in Division II.
Jenkins would have likely been in the 2011 draft in which another SEC cornerback, LSU junior Patrick Peterson, was drafted fifth overall by the Arizona Cardinals, but he needed reconstructive shoulder surgery and opted not to enter the supplemental draft as Terrelle Pryor did to escape Ohio State.
Instead, Jenkins started over in the Gulf South Conference, enrolling at Division II North Alabama to play under Terry Bowden, the former Auburn coach who said he thoroughly investigated Jenkins' transgressions and felt the Parade high school All-American and second-team All-American at Florida was worthy of a mulligan.
"I talked to everybody I could possibly talk to at Florida, from Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp to (athletic director) Jeremy Foley," Bowden said in June. "They all said he is a guy who made a mistake. But it does not represent his character or time at Florida."
He wasn't a model citizen at North Alabama.
Jenkins was ejected from the Oct. 13 game against Delta State for throwing a punch in a game UNA lost 30-24 in overtime.
For a player trying to straddle the straight and narrow and repair dinged character, it was another letdown. Ten NFL scouts were in attendance.
Jenkins said he's grateful for a second chance, but teams might overlook his talent because of his hefty baggage.
"I'm pretty sure it will hurt me," he said.
And it will, but Jenkins will likely earn respect for what seems to be a genuine purpose to avoid the people who promote his past lifestyle and keep his nose clean. He's been asked about it in every meeting with teams since the Senior Bowl.
"I was honest, straightforward, told 'em I did it," he said. "I admitted to everything, I take full responsibility, and I learned from it."
It's an accomplishment that after a failed drug test, multiple arrests, being bounced from Florida and ejected from a game for throwing a punch, that Jenkins could be coveted in the NFL.
But the game film Jenkins produced, including head-to-head battles with 2011 first-round picks A.J. Green -- the best receiver Jenkins faced, he said -- and Julio Jones and possible 2012 first-rounder Alshon Jeffery from South Carolina, proves he has NFL ability. He's projected as a first-round pick. He held Green and Jones to an average of less than 40 yards per game in head-to-head competition.
"Janoris Jenkins when he was at Florida," said Jeffery of the best cornerback he's played. "He's a great defensive back. He's a physical player. Talked a lot of trash, but definitely great competition."
If Jenkins can convince the NFL his biggest battles are behind him, he has a chance to win the one he now says matters most to him -- being a better son and father than he is football player.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 3:04 pm
INDIANAPOLIS -- Jayron Hosley is ready for the high expectations that are becoming attached to Virginia Tech cornerbacks.
"When DeAngelo (Hall) comes around, when Brandon (Flowers) comes around it's like, 'hey, keep that tradition going,'" said Hosley. "I feel like I’m in a position to do that and to represent to my college, for Brandon, for Macho (Harris), for D. Hall. I just keeping the tradition going and I just come here to do my best and compete, that’s all I can do."
Hosley left Virginia Tech after his junior season and led the nation with 10 interceptions as a sophomore in 2010. He petitioned the NFL draft advisory board, which indicated he could be a late first-round or second-round pick.
Hosley played through a hamstring injury and suffered a concussion in the ACC championship game. He also had two near interceptions in the Sugar Bowl. Many expected him to return in 2012 in an effort to elevate his standing with scouts.
"I felt like it was definitely a tough decision because I didn't want to leave the program that I had been with three years, that I loved," he said. "The people I grew up around for three years and felt like there was a connection. I didn't just want to walk out without really sitting down with the coaches and telling them what I think of them. My decision to leave was solely upon my family, I based I around my family, what would I gain from this, what would I lose. I felt like it was the right time. I felt like it was the right decision for me to move on to the next level. I had a great three years there, it was the right time."
Hosley, ranked 82nd overall and 10th among cornerbacks by NFLDraftScout.com, is expected to run the 40-yard dash, vertical leap, broad jump and position drills Monday.
Virginia Tech running back David Wilson was timed at 4.4 and 4.43 seconds in two 40-yard sprints Sunday. He's NFLDraftScout.com's second-ranked running back.
He officially measured 5-9, 206 pounds and was praised for being the rare prospect who showed up for face-to-face interviews with NFL team personnel wearing a suit and tie. Typically, prospects go directly from workouts and other tests in the league-issued training gear.
Wilson said Friday he hoped to run in the "low 4.3s." He'll have the chance to run again and do the bench press, which he didn't do in Indianapolis this week, at Virginia Tech's Pro Day on March 15.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 2:34 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 2:36 pm
Several of the more highly regarded wide receivers of the 2012 draft may see their stock slip after running signficantly slower than expected Sunday at the Scouting Combine.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 2:16 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 3:22 pm
Florida running back Chris Rainey, who confidently said he expected to run a 4.1-second 40-yard dash and "definitely" would break the Combine record, posted an unofficial 4.37 on his first attempt Sunday. That equaled Oregon's LaMichael James for the fastest times among the running backs so far. (40-yard dash results)