Tag:Combine
Posted on: April 23, 2011 12:18 pm
 

Vets' character ?s could (should) impact rookies

The end of the Collective Bargaining Agreement has put the 2011 (and future) NFL seasons in doubt. It has eliminated free agency and veteran trades (to this point) and put a damper on the enthusiasm that many fans have about next weekend's draft.

Perhaps the most unfortunate consequence of NFL teams not being able to communicate directly with their veteran players, however, has been the sudden rise in off-field problems for too many of the league's players.

The NFL world is buzzing this morning about the apparent stabbing of Miami wide receiver Brandon Marshall . This, of course, comes on the heels of Tampa Bay Bucs' cornerback Aqib Talib being charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and for Dallas' wide receiver Dez Bryant's silly controversy regarding he or his friend's inability to wear their pants at a level deemed appropriate by police working inside a shopping mall.

The troubles from these veteran NFL players are as wide-ranging as they are predictable.

As many draft fans know, each of these players was plagued by character questions when entering the NFL.

The actions of these (and other) players since the end of the CBA should serve as a reminder to NFL teams that for some players -- even if they don't like trouble, trouble seems to like them.

Others in the media have highlighted specific instances of criminal activity or character concerns with prospects. I, too, have reservations about many prospects in this draft, which is why I've consistently referred to intangibles as one of the primary factors when ranking players on my Big Board.

I (and more importantly, NFL teams) know of prospects being given first round grades from some with multiple arrests, multiple failed drugs tests (including some who failed at the Combine and/or team administered tests since the Combine), and even multiple abortions.

Wake up NFL teams considering these players. These guys aren't holding up red-flags -- they've planted brilliant scarlet banners on their front lawns.

Does anyone believe that players with these mistakes in their past are likely to improve when given a million (or multi) dollar contract?

Some NFL veterans are proving the opposite to be true -- which could (and perhaps should) be all the more reason to proceed cautiously with any and all prospects with legitimate character concerns -- regardless of their athletic talent.

Posted on: March 31, 2011 1:33 pm
 

After scary fall at USC Pro Day, CB Wright okay

While most of the attention during USC's Pro Day was on offensive tackle Tyron Smith, cornerback Shareece Wright was among a handful of "other" Trojans enjoying a strong performance.

During his positional drills, however, Wright leapt into the air to snag an "interception" and landed awkwardly. According to sources on the scene, he was in obvious pain and clutching his right leg. As a precautionary measure, Wright was carted off the field to undergo tests on the condition of his leg.

As you might expect, there was plenty of speculation as to the possible severity of Wright's injury. I reached out to team sources, who alerted me that Wright appeared to indeed be okay, at least according to an email sent out to all 32 NFL teams by Wright's agent, Josh Arnold of Synergy Sports .

I contacted Josh, who forwarded the email.

Here are some of the key excerpts:

He felt a strain in his hamstring while falling to the ground and at the urging of the USC medical staff he was advised to stay down while they examined his entire leg (including his knee).  He wanted to walk off the field under his own power, but as a precautionary measure  we (myself and the medical team) felt it was best to call for a cart to drive him to the training room for further examination.    After performing several tests the USC medical staff has diagnosed Shareece with a pulled hamstring (no other damage, strains, pulls, etc. to any other part of his leg).  His knee (ACL, MCL, PCL, etc.) is structurally sound as are all other parts of his leg.  After receiving treatment on his hamstring he walked from the locker room to his car under his own power and feels 100% healthy outside of the tight hamstring.  I will forward on a full medical report shortly which I'm sure will include a full diagnosis on all parts of his leg, but in the interim please let me know if anyone has any additional questions or concerns.

Wright has struggled with injuries, at times, in the past, but closed out his career at USC in fine fashion, recording 73 tackles, 10 passes broken up, 7.5 tackles for loss, and two forced and recovered fumbles. He also blocked a kick. Following his season, Wright was asked to play at the Senior Bowl and played well there, also. His fastest recorded time at the Combine was 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

NFLDraftScout.com currently grades Wright as the No. 11 cornerback in this class and a 3rd round pick. Obviously, the details of the "full medical report" could have an impact on his final grade for us, and more importantly, of course, NFL teams.

Posted on: March 27, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Five quietly creeping into 1st round conversation

Over the past week, I've spoken to representatives of nearly a third of the league's teams in an effort to nail down which 32 players will hear their name called out during the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

At this point, there appears to be some consensus on roughly 25 players as first round picks. There are another 15, however, vying for those final eight spots.

We all know that Washington quarterback Jake Locker and Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith are among those players on the bubble. But there are several other players who have generated significantly less buzz but who are quietly earning serious first round consideration from some clubs.

Here are five surprising names you could wind up hearing on April 28.

(Players are listed alphabetically)

DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina : There are still plenty of teams who remain nervous about Austin's intangibles, but of the five listed here, the former UNC defensive tackle is the most talented football player. Teams are as willing to gamble on size and athleticism on the defensive line as any position in football (other than perhaps QB). If the anticipated early run on defensive linemen transpires, don't be surprised if a 4-3 team drafting in the mid 20s to low 30s gambles on Austin's upside.

QB Andy Dalton, TCU : I know of plenty of teams who grade Dalton as a late 2nd to mid 3rd round pick, but most believe he'll come off the board sooner than that. The belief among many, in fact, is that Dalton will be off the board by the mid portion of the second frame. That could push a team like Seattle to take him at No. 25 or for another club to trade back into the late portion of the first round to secure his services, similar to how Detroit traded up (with the Vikings) last year to nab running back Jahvid Best.

OC Rodney Hudson, Florida State
: Florida's Mike Pouncey is getting most of the attention of draft fans and what little remains is generally being dedicated to Baylor's Danny Watkins -- at least when it comes to interior offensive linemen as possible first round picks. There do appear to be clubs with contingency plans involving Hudson, however. The former Seminole is an exceptionally safe player capable of contributing immediately.

OLB Brooks Reed, Arizona : After a rather ho-hum senior season at defensive end for the Wildcats, Reed's stock skyrocketed with a strong Senior Bowl and Combine. Add to this the fact that roughly half of the league's teams are now running a 3-4 base and this outside linebacker prospect is getting a lot of late first round attention.

DE Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh : Sheard is smaller than teams would like as a 4-3 defensive end and perhaps not quite as smooth an athlete as teams would like as a 3-4 rush linebacker. That said, I've spoken to representatives of clubs operating both alignments that feel that he could wind up a pretty solid player in either front due to Sheard's natural pass rush skills, surprising strength and high-revving motor.

Posted on: March 18, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Underrated CB Davon House runs 4.32 at Pro Day

Prior to the Combine, there was plenty of buzz in the scouting community that New Mexico State cornerback Davon House was going to run very well in Indianapolis.

Though he did run well (4.44-4.50) there, the 6-0, 200 pound House had been expected to be among the fastest cornerbacks tested in Indianapolis and elected to run again Friday at his Pro Day, recording times in the 4.32-4.35 second range, according to a source at the scene.

House elected not to do any of the other measureable drills Friday. He was run through a positional workout by Chicago Bears' assistant defensive backs/safeties coach Gill Byrd and "did good, caught everything," according to the source.

Catching everything isn't a surprise for House. What he might lack in national name recognition, he made up for with a stellar career.

House, a four year starter for the Aggies, was a two-time First-Team All-WAC pick who leaves with 198 career tackles, along with 46 passes broken up and 11 interceptions -- three of which he returned for touchdowns.

There were approximately 15 teams on hand for the workout, according to the source, including representatives from the Chicago Bears (scout, as well as Byrd), Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills and New York Giants.

House is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 7 rated cornerback for the 2011 NFL Draft and is expected to be selected in the 2nd round.
Posted on: March 8, 2011 6:54 pm
 

Give Newton a "B" on the "Final Exam"

Cam Newton's quarterback coach George Whitfield, Jr. characterized the Heisman winner's performance at the Scouting Combine two weeks ago as a "pop quiz" and today's Pro Day workout as the "final exam."

Carrying the analogy further, it was clear Tuesday afternoon that Newton had studied hard for the big test, making significant improvement from the Indianapolis quiz, but also evident that he still has a ways to go before he can count on making the Honor Roll as an NFL passer.

Newton completed 50 of his 60 scripted passes on the day, demonstrating better timing and accuracy on some of the throws that troubled him at the Combine -- most notably the outs, comebacks and deep balls. He was the victim of several drops, diminishing his completion percentage somewhat, but also was helped out, at times, by receivers making some very good catches and adjusting their speed to track the football.

Most importantly, Newton showed improvement in taking snaps from center. Newton actually took snaps from a center Tuesday, rather than simply dropping back as he did at the Combine. This not-so-insignificant difference obviously greater replicated an actual football game and only made Newton's improvement in his dropback and timing all the better.

Newton still has a tendency to sail his passes high and wide, however. Had you asked me to assign a letter grade following the Combine throwing session, I would have given him a "D." Perhaps that seems harsh, but considering that after tossing a few easy passes to receivers during the gauntlet drill, Newton only completed 11 of 21 passes (and these weren't drops, mind you) on the day, the 60% it takes to get a "D" in my book is actually higher than Newton' completion percentage on the day.

On Tuesday, however, I thought Newton deserved a "B" for his efforts. He certainly did not demonstrate the spectacular accuracy I had witnessed firsthand at Sam Bradford's Pro Day last year. Newton wasn't as accurate as Mark Sanchez during his Pro Day a year earlier -- another workout I attended.

However, Newton did demonstrate all of the physical ability tools scouts are looking for -- and, again, showed significant improvement. Considering that it has been less than two weeks since the pop quiz, that is all most teams were looking for...



Posted on: March 8, 2011 9:07 am
 

What to look for in Cam's Pro Day workout

In yet another example of the undying thirst this world has for all-things football (and more specifically all-things Cam Newton), Auburn Pro Day workout will be broadcasted live today by ESPN3.com and the NFL Network.

The workout should feature defensive tackle Nick Fairley, offensive lineman Lee Ziemba and linebacker Josh Bynes, among other notable draft-eligible prospects for the BCS Champion Tigers, but, of course, the focus will be on the Heisman-winning Newton.

The pressure is on Newton to perform well after he struggled in his Combine throwing session. Newton's inaccuracy in Indianapolis caught some off guard as the reviews from his media-only workout outside of San Diego drew rave reviews. You can watch much of that workout here .

So, what does Newton have to do today to boost his stock?

In a word, improve.

After completing the easy ten-yard tosses to receivers during the gauntlet drill, Newton completed only 11 of his 21 passes at the Combine. Newton's struggles were due to the fact that his timing was off in his dropback from "center." He was a bit slow dropping back, forcing him to hurry his throwing motion. Too often he was throwing off his back foot with the ball leaving his hand too at an upward arc. This led to many of his passes sailing on him, especially on the deep out route, a pass requiring timing with his receivers.

Today, watch to see if Newton's timing is improved. It should be, as he'll be throwing to receivers he knows, as opposed to those he passed to in Indianapolis. Also, watch to see if Newton is stepping into his throws. This is essentially the weight distribution piece you've heard analysts refer to in the past.

Besides just the throwing session, it will be interesting to see how Newton's teammates rally around him. One of Newton's greatest attributes, according to scouts, is his leadership. Newton hadn't let the pressure of the big stage affect him in Auburn's undefeated season, but we might have seen cracks in the armor with his poor throwing session at the Combine. Newton needs a strong showing today. He also needs to show that he's having fun and be encouraging to his teammates. Today may really be all about Newton, but he can't let on that he believes that. This is Auburn's Pro Day, after all, not just Newton's.

I was on the field to watch the Pro Days that sent Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford's respective stocks soaring. I anticipate a similarly spectacular and stock-boosting performance from Newton today. If we don't get it, perhaps Chad Reuter and I will have to change the No. 1 overall pick in each of our current first round mock drafts.

Fairley, too, could see a boost or drop based on how he performs today. For all of the concern about his "soft" body at the Combine, there is no denying his spectacular workout. The natural athleticism that has caused me (and many others) to characterize him as the most naturally talented prospect in the draft was on display there. What will be interesting to scouts will be if Fairley's conditioning has improved or lessened in the eight days since he worked out at the Combine.

Every NFL team is expected to attend the event. In fact, some are predicting that it will be the most heavily attended Pro Day of all time. This is all the more impressive considering that Arkansas and Oklahoma are hosting their Pro Day workouts today, as well. Auburn's Pro Day begins at 1:30 pm EST.
Posted on: March 4, 2011 11:33 am
Edited on: March 4, 2011 12:05 pm
 

Bowers schedules private workout for NFL teams

Joe Flanagan of BTI Sports sent out an e-mail to media members today stating that his client, Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, will have his own workout instead of participating with the rest of his former teammates in the Tigers' scheduled pro day.

"Da'Quan Bowers will hold a private workout at Clemson's campus on April 1, 2011, beginning at 9:00 a.m.  Da'Quan is eagerly looking forward to his opportunity to work out in front of NFL coaches and decision-makers.

Recent reports that Da'Quan's knee has not healed as well as expected are 100% inaccurate. Contrary to those reports, Da'Quan has progressed well ahead of schedule."

Bowers, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 overall rated player after a very strong junior season (26 TFL, 15.5 sacks) where he won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's top defender, stated at the Combine that he was "100%" but would not work out in order to get the same workout schedule available to all of his healthy compatriots.

Certainly team doctors at the Combine gave teams their opinion on Bowers' knee last week, but meniscus surgeries are typically not something that lead to long-term problem with the efficiency of today's medical procedures.

Bowers will likely have to go back to Indianapolis on April 8 with other prospects (the list is not released to the public) with recent injuries/surgeries to get a medical "re-check" so teams have the most up-to-date information available.

A thumbs-up from doctors and great workout at Clemson April 1 is needed to prevent any late April's Fools jokes at Bowers' expense when the draft begins nearly four weeks later.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter
Posted on: March 3, 2011 12:59 pm
 

Video, radio analysis -- NDS brings it all

NFLDraftScout.com is working to bring you the very best in NFL Draft coverage, expanding into podcasts and videos through our partnership with CBSSports.com.

My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter spoke with Lauren Shehadi Tuesday in wrapping up some of the Combine's biggest Risers and Fallers. You can find his video by clicking here.

I'll be recording a video today, discussing the top quarterback prospects.

The ever-busy Mr. Reuter was also working the airwaves for our weekly podcast. Cecil Lammey, who has done a great job with footballguys.com , was brought in to host the discussion. I'll be contributing to these podcasts most weeks, but was unavailable yesterday.

And, of course, for those who simply want to read our content rather than listen or watch us, you can always check out the information at NFLDraftScout.com or by purchasing a copy of Lindy's NFL Draft Preview online or from store shelves across the country.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com