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Draft Risers and Sliders: Pro Days


The final week of pro-day workouts gave NFL scouts plenty more to think about. While the largest crowds huddled at USC to watch the Trojans show off their skills, there were a number of notable performances by other prospects around the nation which must be mentioned.

Clay Matthews/LB/USC: Matthews was exceptional during the Trojans workout and he may have helped himself more than any other USC prospect. He ran exceptionally well, timing in the mid 4.5's in the forty. Matthews later looked terrific in position drills, making NFL decision-makers on hand believe he's truly a versatile, three-down linebacker. Matthews could be selected earlier than his headlining teammate, Brian Cushing, which many thought impossible just one month ago.

Clinton McDonald/DL/Memphis: McDonald was a surprise non-invite to the combine in February but made scouts take notice with his tremendous pro-day workout one week ago. McDonald measured 6-foot-2 and 283 pounds, completed 36 reps on the bench and posted a 38-inch vertical jump. His forty times averaged 4.83 and McDonald was swift in the short shuttle with a time of 4.46. Scouts were high on McDonald throughout his senior season and the Memphis product may have moved into the middle rounds with his performance.

Ryan Mouton/DB/Hawaii: Mouton ran one forty during the Hawaii pro day on Thursday, timing in the low 4.4's despite pulling his hamstring midway through the sprint, an injury he suffered at the combine. Earlier in the day Mouton posted a broad jump of 11 feet. Mouton is a real wild card in April's draft and a cornerback who could be selected much earlier than people expect. He's incredibly athletic and scouts love his potential.

David Buehler/K/USC: It's not often a kicker benefits from an individual workout but Buehler did exactly that Wednesday. He showed a strong leg and most importantly was accurate on his field goals, something Buehler struggled with at the combine. He's a big, strong athlete who can make tackles in coverage and Buehler could be the first kicker drafted in three weeks, as early as the fourth round.

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Jairus Byrd/CB/Oregon: Eyebrows were raised when Byrd left Oregon to enter the draft as a junior. His workout proved the pessimists were on to something. Byrd, who did not run at the combine, timed in the mid 4.6's even after showing up six pounds lighter than he did in Indianapolis. Byrd's poor speed will limit the types of defensive systems he can be successful.

Kahlil Bell/RB/UCLA: Bell was unable to improve from his poor combine performance and ran pedestian times of 4.75 during UCLA's pro day. Bell, who never rushed for more than 800 yards at UCLA, is too slow for running back and at 212 pounds is not big enough to be a lead blocker.

Devon Drew/TE/East Carolina: Drew, known mostly as a pass catcher, struggled to run faster than 4.8 during his pro day, times which were worse than his combine performance. Drew hovers around 250 and is not known for his blocking. The lack of speed to create mismatches in the secondary will strike a blow to his draft stock.

• Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew, whose been dealing with a hamstring injury the past few weeks, will hold his own private pro-day workout Friday on campus in front of a half-dozen teams. Pettigrew is not expected to run the forty but will do position and pass catching drills.

• USC outside linebacker Kaluka Maiava ran one forty at pro day, timing in the mid-to-high 4.6's, before suffering a strained hamstring. He later took part in position drills and did enough to create a buzz around himself. Scouts feel while Maiava may not be the impact linebacker many of his teammates are viewed as, he could turn out to be the best three-down defender of the bunch, and one of the few USC linebackers NFL teams will leave on the field during third and long passing situations. Maiava is likely to be overlooked in April; he's a legitimate top 60 prospect who may fall into the third round.

• The buzz around Brian Cushing is starting to fall a little flat. The bruising defender looked a bit stiff in position drills at the Trojans pro day and many teams feel he may be a better fit at inside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment rather then letting his run loose at outside linebacker.

• USC is so loaded with talent that even their reserves are viable NFL prospects. Is there a Matt Cassel to come out of this year's class of Trojans prospects? It could be Gerald Washington, a versatile athlete who, at 6-5 and 265, caught the eye of NFL personnel at the Trojans pro day with his physical presence. Washington is getting strong endorsements from Pete Carroll as an athletic, team player with legitimate pro potential. Washington spent four years in the Navy following high school, then excelled as a tight end in junior college. He was recruited to USC as an "athlete" and played primarily defensive end behind Kyle Moore and Clay Matthews besides spending time on special teams. NFL teams are looking at Washington at a variety of positions including defensive end, tight end and outside linebacker.