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Pro Day Notebook: Pats coach ramps up BC's workout

The Sports Xchange
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BOSTON COLLEGE

Representatives from 17 NFL teams were on-hand inside the Eagles' practice bubble for Boston College's pro day, which was headlined by offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo and linebacker Mark Herzlich.

The Eagles had nine players at the workout, which was also attended by prospects from other programs including Assumption, Harvard, Holy Cross and Massachusetts. In all, 39 athletes from a total of 17 schools took part in the workout.

Castonzo, the top-rated offensive tackle and No. 14 overall prospect according to NFLDraftScout.com, measured in at 6-feet-7 and 313 pounds - almost identical to what he was at the scouting combine last month. Perhaps the most valuable part of the day, however, was having the positional drills overseen by Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia in what turned out to be an intense session.

"He was coaching us up," Castonzo said. "It was like a practice. It wasn't like he was running us through drills, it was like he was actually coaching us. It was nice. I actually learned some stuff today."

Herzlich is battling to prove to NFL teams he is healthy after overcoming bone cancer. His path to the NFL Draft has been littered with more questions about his long-term health than his football abilities.

"After seeing 32 team doctors and a bunch of other physicians, I feel great," said Herzlich, once a first-round prospect who NFLDraftScout.com now projects as a fourth- or fifth-round pick.

Another interesting name at the workout was UMass offensive lineman Greg Niland, who transferred from Northeastern and had his first opportunity this offseason to work out in front of NFL scouts. He wasn't invited to the Senior Bowl or combine.

Niland is likely to be an undrafted priority free agent, which is a tenuous position because NFL teams won't be able to sign undrafted free agents if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached before the draft.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE

Linebacker Nate Irving backed himself into a bit of a corner by electing not to work out at the combine, but enjoyed a strong pro day workout. The 6-1, 242-pound Irving was timed as fast as 4.68 seconds in the 40-yard dash according to scouts on the scene and also put up 27 repetitions of 225 pounds - a number beaten by only four of the 29 linebackers at the combine.

More important, Irving performed very well in positional workouts, according to a source. Irving, who started at outside and inside linebacker for the Wolfpack, showed "above average speed, fluidity and balance" during drills and projects nicely as an inside or weak-side linebacker in the 4-3 scheme. Irving is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 6-rated inside linebacker and viewed as a fourth-round value.

UCONN

Twenty-five NFL teams were represented to watch 10 former Huskies work out, six of whom took part in the combine.

Running back Jordan Todman is the highest-rated Connecticut player and is projected as a third-round pick. He chose to stand on his agility tests from the combine. Todman did go through positional drills, as did linebackers Greg Lloyd - the son of the former Steelers linebacker - Lawrence Wilson and Scott Lutrus, running back Anthony Sherman and guard Zach Hurd, who were all in Indianapolis.

NEVADA

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the main attraction in Reno on Tuesday. He showed good touch and hit his targets with 36 completions in 38 attempts, according to the Reno Gazette, which also reported Kaepernick will visit privately with at least 10 teams. NFLDraftScout.com projects him as a second- or third-round pick ranked 81st overall and seventh at quarterback.

Kaepernick's arm is strong enough to make every NFL throw. However, he's not considered a ready-made fit in a pro-style offense after operating coach Chris Ault's "Pistol" system, a hybrid shotgun formation, and is a work in progress despite showing promise at the Senior Bowl and combine.

If he thickens up his rail-like frame, sharpens his drops from center and shortens what is now an elongated, baseball pitcher type of delivery, he stands a chance to be a pleasant surprise.

A contingent of 49ers personnel including coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke, took in a private workout last week. The 49ers have shown interest in several projected second-round quarterbacks, including Andy Dalton (TCU) and Christian Ponder (Florida State). Kaepernick's footwork, agility and knack for freelancing successfully when plays break down meet the requirements Harbaugh covered last week when asked about his QB checklist.

Kaepernick is also a leader, but he could miss on one key -- top-level accuracy -- of Harbaugh's. As a second-round pick, Kaepernick would face lofty expectations but might not immediately be asked to contribute.

--Defensive end Dontay Moch went through position drills but stood on his Combine numbers -- 4.40 40-yard dash, 42-inch vertical, 10-foot-8-inch broad jump and 7.09 three-cone drill. He worked out as an end and outside linebacker and has a chance to be drafted ahead of Kaepernick. NFLDraftScout.com puts him at No. 79 overall, seventh among outside linebackers.

OLE MISS

Defensive tackle Jerrell Powe worked out for the 18 teams present at Tuesday's workout. According to the school, he ran a 5.29 40-yard dash and had a 4.96 short shuttle.

Powe entered last season as a projected first-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Rob Rang. Currently projected as a third-round pick and the 13th-ranked defensive tackle, the 24-year-old said he's heard he could still be a second-round pick.

--At 5-11, 220 pounds, Jeremiah Masoli has an NFL frame. But teams aren't sure where he fits in a pro offense, if at all. Masoli told the Clarion Ledger he has a chance to be a late-round pick or priority free agent.

Few teams are telling him he'll get a chance at quarterback. Most have said he's a "Wildcat" type of returner and running back, though Masoli said he's still "a quarterback at heart." Masoli worked out mostly as a receiver out of the backfield at the Rebels' pro day, but also threw a few passes toward the end of the workout.

Masoli is an intriguing prospect because of his versatility and elusiveness in tight quarters, but likely as a developmental type who'd have to fight and claw to earn a roster spot. Besides his height, teams will dig deep into his background after Masoli was booted from the Oregon team he took to the Rose Bowl months before coach Chip Kelly made the decision to dismiss him for possession of an illegal substance and driving with a suspended license. This was a second major incident -- Masoli pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary in 2010.

--Defensive end Kentrell Lockett wasn't available to work out. He remains in limbo as the NCAA reviews his petition for an extra year of eligibility. Lockett played three games in 2010 before tearing the ACL in his left knee against Fresno State in September. He declined an invitation to the combine in February and sat out the pro day workout in hopes of hearing he's being allowed to play for the Rebels in 2010. He was a senior team captain in 2010 and is currently ranked 28th at the defensive end position by NFLDraftScout.com while his situation is resolved.

PURDUE

Wide receiver Keith Smith is still limited by a major knee injury -- he tore the MCL and ACL -- and didn't participate in drills at Purdue's pro day. Recently denied a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA for injury hardship, Smith will be available in the 2011 draft and hopes to be able to perform drills, run the 40-yard dash and other agility drills in April.

"My confidence is still good, I've been out here running and catching," Smith told the Purdue Exponent. "My hands are still good now; it's just getting my knee completely healthy and being able to run."

WEST VIRGINIA

Running back Noel Devine led his former teammates in the 40 with an unofficial time of 4.3 seconds at the Mountaineers' pro day. He's projected a seventh-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com, which pegs him as a the No. 22 tailback in the draft.

Devine's frame -- 5-7, 160 -- and nagging foot and toe injuries the past two seasons have caused his draft stock to level out as a late second-day option. That doesn't mean every NFL team will follow that logic. A player with a similar body type and high-level collegiate production, Darren Sproles, was a fourth-round pick in 2005 (130th overall).

Devine is shifty and has sprinter's speed. He hasn't proven to have the same naturally sticky hands Sproles has, nor is he an elite return specialist entering the NFL.

NFLDraftScout.com is distributed by The Sports Xchange.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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