Sources at today's Notre Dame pro day, the final non-individual event on the calendar, said a trio of players stood out this morning, including two who were unable to work out at the combine.
All eyes were on Kyle Rudolph and the junior tight end did not disappoint. Rudolph, whose season ended in October after he underwent surgery to repair an injured hamstring, ran 40 times which averaged in the low-4.8s. Some watches timed Rudolph as fast as 4.77. He later caught the ball exceptionally well. Rudolph now moves towards the draft as the top tight end and should be drafted in the first half of round two.
Running back Armando Allen, who had been recovering from a hip injury and was another Irish prospect who sat on the sidelines in Indianapolis, posted times as fast as 4.46 after tipping the scales at 202 pounds, three more than his combine weight. Allen should be picked in the later rounds of the draft.
Underrated cornerback Darrin Walls was one of the stars of the day running in the low-4.4s. Walls was not invited to the combine but impressed scouts with his play during the week of practices at the Shrine Game. He offers the physical skills to play in the NFL and is a legitimate late-round pick who could surprise a number of people.
Today's headliner is Villanova offensive lineman Ben Ijalana, who was unable to participate at the Senior Bowl or the combine after undergoing surgery on a sports hernia late in December.
Ijalana peformed well for the offensive line coaches in attendance, touching 27 inches in the vertical jump, 9-feet in the broad jump and running the 40 in times as fast as 5.12.
Ijalana also received good reviews for his position work during the drills segment. Several teams said they like the versatility of the small school lineman, who they project at both guard and tackle in the NFL.
Ijalana has received some first round mention recently but the initial half of the second round seems a better fit for the large blocker.
• Indiana junior wideout Tandon Doss, who has recovered from the groin injury which kept him from working out at the combine, put up these marks today: 4.56 seconds in the 40, 6.87 seconds in the three cone, 32.5 inches in the vertical jump and 9-8 in the broad jump.
Doss caught the ball well during drills, running crisp routes and displaying great balance in his game. Throwing the ball to Doss during the workout was Hoosier senior passer Ben Chappell, who was on the money all morning.
Doss, projected as a third receiver at the next level, projects as a third- or fourth-round pick and would be a steal if he goes later than that.
• We failed to mention the outstanding workout of Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling earlier this week. Twenty-seven teams had representatives on hand to watch Dowling perform Monday. The talented senior, who was rated as a potential first-round pick prior to the season but struggled with multiple leg injuries throughout the 2010 campaign, did not disappoint.
Though still not 100 percent, Dowling's 40 times were clocked as low as 4.34. His vertical jump was 38 inches and his broad jump was 10-8. Dowling also looked terrific in a variety of defensive back drills.
So where does Dowling fit in the draft? Physically he ranks as a top tier cornerback and his play in 2009, when he was fully healthy, was first-round caliber. He's likely to slide out of the top 50 selections yet will be a steal if he gets his game back on track and plays to his level of ability.
Several running back coaches were on hand to watch Kansas State's Daniel Thomas work out today. Thomas, who was unable to participate in the Senior Bowl and the combine due to hamstring issues, performed better than expected. His 40 times averaged 4.55, and were as fast as 4.50 on a number of watches. Scouts were concerned about his speed and today's performance should quell those doubts. Thomas, who measured 6-feet, 230 pounds in Indianapolis, later looked good in position drills. While his ongoing hamstring issues will raise some red flags, today's workout should be enough to cement Thomas as a top 100 choice.
• Nebraska defensive end Pierre Allen was also scheduled to run for scouts today but had to push his workout date back as he still hasn't fully recovered from the calf injury which kept him from participating in the combine.
The pro day for Da'Quan Bowers has ended and now the decision rests with NFL general managers and head coaches as to where he fits in at the top of the draft.
Bowers looked solid during position drills, displaying good movement skills and flexibility. He showed a good degree of quickness throughout the session and was smooth on his feet. Bowers also looked winded at times, huffing and puffing his way through the workout.
Afterwards he addressed reporters, and Bowers admitted struggling with his conditioning while recovering from the knee surgery. Bowers told the crowd he was disappointed in his 40 time yet satisfied with his performances in the three cone and shuttle. Bowers pegged the North Carolina State game on Nov. 6 as the day he tore his meniscus.
Bowers, along with Tyron Smith of USC and a handful of other players, will travel to Indianapolis next week for the combine re-check. The annual re-check gives NFL teams another opportunity to re-examine players who were medically red-flagged during February's combine.
• Two small school prospects who must be mentioned as we close out the week.
During the South Carolina State pro day, offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath (6-5 and 321 pounds) posted 40 times as fast a 4.94 seconds and completed 27 reps on the bench. The left tackle prospect looked solid in position drills, displaying footwork and skills as a pass protector. He could squeak into the last few spots of the draft and at the very least Culbreath will be highly sought as a free agent.
In Nacogdoches, Texas, more than a dozen NFL teams had representatives on hand to watch Jabara Williams at the Stephen F. Austin pro day. The Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year did not disappoint as his marks included 40 times as fast as 4.54, a short shuttle time of 4.24 and 36.5 inches in the vertical jump. Measuring just under 6-2 and weighing 228 pounds, Williams was out of position at middle linebacker in college yet is getting a lot of consideration as a late round weak-side linebacker prospect.
• Former South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders, who hobbled around on one leg during the Gamecocks pro day earlier this week, had the bothersome stress fracture in his foot surgically repaired today. Usual rehabilitation from the procedure is up to 60 days.
The first day of April has one major pro day, and it's a workout that could shape the top of the draft.
Getting the day started early, Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers already has finished the initial testing with results that were somewhat disappointing. Bowers measured 6-3½ and 276 pounds. His broad jumps were between 9-feet, 2-inches and 9-feet, 6-inches with a vertical jump that touched 34.5 inches. Bowers' 40 times ranged between 4.83 and 4.92 seconds. He did rebound with a solid three-cone time of 6.95 seconds. Bowers average times in the short shuttle clocked in the upper 4.4-second area with his fastest being 4.34.
For Bowers, the 40 time don't stack up against some of the top defensive linemen who participated at the combine. By comparison, California's Cameron Jordan ran in the mid-4.7s and weighs 11 pounds more than Bowers. But Bowers' best three-cone and short-shuttle times were right in line with the upper echelon of performances by the defensive linemen at the combine.
The workout took place outdoors on a strip of field turf at Memorial Stadium. A large crowd was in attendance, including NFL general managers, head coaches, assistants and scouts.
Interest was hight to see Bowers today, after he only completed the bench press at the combine. He continues to recover from a minor surgical procedure performed on his knee in January to repair a torn meniscus.
The Hawaii pro day at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., is finished. The workout took almost six hours as NFL prospects from the University of Hawaii plus local Los Angeles players that attended schools around the nation took part in the event.
All three receivers from Hawaii looked terrific and each established themselves as legitimate picks during different points of the draft's seven rounds.
Greg Salas sat on his combine numbers and stood out in receiver drills. He showcased his outstanding route running and reliable hands. Salas is quickly moving up draft boards as a variety of teams feel he'll be a good fit for their offensive system. Relatively unknown for much of the year, Salas could slide into the late part of round two.
Kealoha Pilares showed he's lost nothing in his game after suffering a knee injury in the Hawaii Bowl last December. Pilares posted a vertical jump of 40.5 inches and broad jump which measured 10-feet, 5-inches. He then timed 4.45 in the 40 before showing reliable hands and solid route running throughout the workout. At the end of the day, scouts put Pilares through a battery of running back drills, the position he played his first two seasons at Hawaii. Pilares is now likely to be selected during the bottom third of the draft.
Rodney Bradley, not invited to the combine, proved he belongs at the next level. Bradley posted 4.50 in the 40 and looked just as good as his teammates catching the ball. Used as part of the starting receiver rotation for the Warriors, he'll get consideration in the draft's closing frames.
Finally, safety Mana Silva gave scouts something to think about. The Oregon State transfer, who totaled a nation-leading eight interceptions last season, was perceived as being too slow and unathletic for the NFL. His 40 time of 4.43 will make scouts rethink that opinion. Silva also looked effective in position drills. In a weak class of safeties in next month's draft, Silva is just the kind of player who could slide into the late rounds.
• Barely two months removed from knee surgery to repair an injury suffered during the Senior Bowl, Oregon State's Stephen Paea looked impressive at his pro day.
Paea, who weighed 303 pounds at the combine, touched 31 inches in the vertical jump and clocked times which ranged from 5.14-ro-5.17 in the 40. He was then worked hard in position drills and stayed on the field until he had completed everything scouts asked of him.
It was a solid performance for Paea, considering the circumstances. He could slide into the late part of round one, though more than likely Paea will be chosen in the top half of the second frame, in large part due to the quality and depth of the defensive line position in this year's draft.
The North Carolina pro day, held in 40-degree weather on a wet field, has just finished.
Quarterback T.J. Yates had the workout of his life today and impressed a large number of people. Due to the pro-day rules instituted after the lockout, the Carolina senior was the only quarterback available to throw the ball during all the position drills. Yates ended up throwing 112 passes during the workout and for the most part was accurate throughout the morning. Many league insiders feel Yates is the most underrated QB in this year's draft. Considered by many as a seventh-round selection, Yates could jump into the fifth round based on his performance today and his strong passing workout at the combine.
Linebacker Quan Sturdivant timed 4.65 seconds in the 40, which is a solid time though most in attendance expected him to break 4.6. Cornerback Kendric Burney, who was terribly slow at the combine (4.71), was clocked between 4.68-to-4.72 seconds today.
Defensive end Robert Quinn improved his combine marks on the bench press (24 reps) and broad jump (10-feet, 5-inches). His 40 times ranged between 4.57-to-4.61 seconds, better than his 4.62 from Indianapolis.
Receiver Greg Little also had a solid workout. His 40 ranged between 4.49-to-4.53 seconds, a slight improvement from his combine time. Little also improved in the three cone (4.19). He later caught the ball well, displaying good footwork running routes and quickness into his breaks. He showed a large degree of athleticism and balance on the slippery turf.
Tight end Zach Pianalto was one of the beneficiaries of Yates passing. After running the forty in 4.75 (an improvement of .03 from the combine), he caught the ball extremely well.
In Chapel Hill, N.C., the workout is under way for several defensive prospects who project as top 100 picks. For linebacker Quan Sturdivant, who did not participate in the Senior Bowl and chose not to run the forty or three cone at the combine after claiming to hurt his hamstring in warm-ups, it's his one shot to impress NFL teams and quell the criticism about his athleticism.
Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea is set to run and complete position drills for scouts at his individual pro day. Paea set a combine record with 49 repetitions on the bench yet did not partake in anything else after injuring his knee during the Senior Bowl.
In Carson, Calif., members of the Hawaii football team eligible for April's draft will be working out this afternoon. We'll be watching wide receiver Kealoha Pilares, a potential late-round choice, who was unable to run at the combine due to a knee injury.
Junior Tyron Smith turned in some terrific marks at USC's pro-day.
Tipping the scales at 310 pounds, three more than his combine weight, Smith ran 40 times which ranged in the mid-to-upper 4.9-second area. Some clocks had the big offensive tackle as fast as 4.92. Those marks were far superior to any offensive tackle that ran in Indianapolis. His 30-inch vertical jump and 9-foot, 2-inch broad jump also rank in the upper echelon of marks from the offensive tackle class at the combine. Smith improved his bench press by completing 31 reps, up two from the combine. Sources said he looked terrific in position drills, displaying good movement skills and solid footwork.
The workout was attended by Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and offensive line coach Hudson Houck, presumably to see Smith, who is projected as the Cowboys first-round pick in SI.com's Don Banks'
Receiver Ronald Johnson ran a pair of 40 times which averaged 4.48, a slight improvement for him from Indianapolis. His 3-cone time was clocked as fast as 6.5 seconds. He also completed 20 reps on the bench press. He ran sharp routes and caught the ball very well.
Fast rising tight end Jordan Cameron stood on his numbers from the combine but looked terrific in position drills. The smooth athlete was very natural catching the ball and turned a lot of heads, as he did at the combine.
Running back Allen Bradford hoped to improve his 40 time from the combine (4.53) but fell far short, clocking as slow as 4.69. This now puts a question in the mind of teams around the league. Bradford did rebound and looked good in position drills.
Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey was slightly faster today, posting a best of 5.03 in the 40. His combine mark was 5.04. Casey pulled up with a hamstring issue on his second attempt in the 40 after timing 5.14, but came back and completed the position drills.
The big winner of the day could be weak-side linebacker prospect Malcolm Smith, who was not invited to the combine. Smith, who weighed 225 pounds, posted marks which included 28 reps on the bench, 39 inches in the vertical jump, 10-feet, 5-inches in the broad jump and times as fast as 4.47 in the 40. Smith was equally impressive during position drills, looking smooth, fluid and quick. He translated his timed speed onto the field and was very athletic. He is set to visit with the Bears and Seahawks.
The other Trojan linebacker who participated today, Michael Morgan, also ran well, timing in the mid 4.4-second range in the 40. It was a different story during position drills as Morgan struggled in all aspects. Known more as an athlete than football player, Morgan's performance today won't change any opinions.
Cornerback Shareece Wright suffered an injury today which bares watching. According to an onlooker, Wright caught his foot in the turf during one of the drills and as he laid on the field being attended to, told trainers he heard something go "pop".
Jake Locker turned in a solid performance, according to those just leaving the workout in Seattle.
Locker threw approximately 49 passes, including his warm-up tosses, and just two ended up incomplete according to scouts in attendance. Five passes sailed high of the mark, which required receivers to make acrobatic receptions to come down with the ball. Early in the workout, Locker showed outstanding timing and was on the money with his throws, hitting receivers as they left their breaks and allowing pass-catchers to run to the ball. He seemed comfortable with his footwork and passing fundamentals, an improvement from the combine where he seemed a bit stiff with his new throwing mechanics. As the workout neared the end, Locker grew a bit weary, reflected in his timing and accuracy. From the get-go, Locker was very loose and heavily involved in the workout, cheering on his former Husky teammates as they performed for scouts. Overall, it was another step in the right direction for Locker.
Linebacker Mason Foster improved his time from the combine with 40's that ranged from 4.68-to-4.72.
Offensive lineman Cody Habben turned in solid marks including 28 reps on the bench and a broad jump of 8-feet, 10-inches. Habben measured 6-feet, 5.5-inches and 295 pounds.
South Carolina defensive back Chris Culliver continues his upward movement on draft boards. At today's pro day, Culliver sat on most of his combine numbers, including the 40, as he posted a time of 4.36 during his Indianapolis workout. He did bench press today and was credited with 15 reps. It was a solid number, even moreso considering Culliver missed the second half of his senior campaign after suffering a torn pectoral muscle which required surgery to repair. After the bench, Culliver looked quick and fluid in position drills. The versatility to play cornerback, safety and kick-returner could push the Gamecock senior into the draft's initial 65 selections.
The results were not as good for Weslye Saunders. The former Gamecock tight end timed in the mid-4.9s in the forty and showed minimal quickness all day. While he caught the ball well in drills, onlookers said Saunders seemed to be favoring the foot he re-injured at the combine.
The pro day for Cameron Heyward has finished and judging by those at the event, the Ohio State defensive lineman impressed many of the teams on hand.
He tipped the scales at 295 pounds and unofficially his marks read 4.95 in the forty, a short shuttle time in the low-4.4s and three cone time in the 7.4 area. Reportedly, Heyward touched 35 inches in the vertical jump.
Sources at the workout said Heyward looked solid in drills, moving well and showing good hand punch, despite his recent surgery. The Buckeye has been all over draft boards and there are a variety of opinions in the scouting community as to where he fits in this April. Considering his workout today, coupled with his body of work in college and ability to line up at several positions on the defensive line, it's tough to see Heyward slipping past the 24th pick in round one and very understandable if he ends up as a top 15 selection.
One of the busier days on the pro-day schedule takes place today as scouts will get a first look at three players unable to participate at the combine -- defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, tight end Weslye Saunders and offensive tackle Tyron Smith.
Heyward will complete a full workout at Ohio State, minus the bench press, as he's recovered from the elbow surgery performed back in January. Sources from the Heyward camp told us the first-round prospect has been lifting weights but is not ready to try and max out on the bench press. Several draft eligible Buckeyes will piggyback off Heyward's workout today and give scouts a last look at their skills.
South Carolina welcomes back tight end Weslye Saunders at its pro day. Saunders, who sat on the sidelines last season due to NCAA rules violations, was prepared to run during the combine before re-injuring his foot. Doctors who examined Saunders in Indianapolis uncovered a stress fracture and the injury was made worse when the big tight end landed awkwardly during the vertical jump.
Out west, the USC pro day is one that always draws a big crowd and today will be no different. Junior offensive tackle Tyron Smith, who was still recovering from minor knee surgery during the combine, is expected to complete a full running workout today.
Finally, Jake Locker has another opportunity to prove his passing skills are headed in the right direction after his fine combine workout as NFL teams will be in Seattle for the Washington pro day.
Representatives from the league's 32 teams converged on UCLA's campus today for the first of three important pro-days out on the West Coast.
It was a late afternoon start in Westwood, Calif. as many of the general managers and position coaches from the NFL landed in Los Angeles this morning before quickly making their way to the workout to watch a trio of Bruin prospects from on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Akeem Ayers really improved from his combine performance. The junior's best time in Indianapolis was 4.81 seconds in the 40 yet today Ayers got that mark down to 4.69 seconds. The workout was run on field turf, not an especially fast surface and sources at the workout said Ayers' improvement can be chalked up to a different training regiment since returning from Indy.
Whatever he did, it worked. Ayers also looked solid in position drills, moving around the field with ease and showing a variety of skill.
This will likely cement Ayers in the first round, something that was not a certainty after him combine workout.
Defensive lineman David Carter, who was a combine snub, also performed well. Measuring 6-feet, 4.5-inches and at 293 pounds, Carter timed at 4.93 seconds in the 40, completed 25 reps on the bench and posted a broad jump of 9-foot-3 inches. He also looked athletic in position drills and will now get consideration from defenses around the league. They'll like consider using him at tackle in a four-man line or as a two-gap end in a 3-4 alignment.
The response to the workout of safety Rahim Moore has been lukewarm. The junior stood on his forty times from the combine, the best which was 4.58 seconds, and seemed off his game in drills. Scouts said he did not display many of the ball skills he's shown in the past and Moore struggled tacking (finding) passes in the air on occasion.
In Salt Lake City today, representatives from more than two dozen NFL teams attended pro day at Utah.
Center Zane Taylor complete an impressive 41 reps on the bench, eight better than his mark from the combine. His 40 time (5.41), vertical jump (26.5 inches) and three cone (7.94) were all improvements from Indianapolis.
Guard Caleb Schlauderaff did not participate in any testing at the combine or today. He's been sidelined with assorted leg injuries. His situation will be re-evaluated in two weeks to decide if he'll be able to complete a combine-type workout before the draft. Schlauderaff was awarded various All-American and all-Conference awards in 2010 and impressed scouts during the week of practice at the East-West Shrine game.
Pro day is over in Texas and scouts came away impressed with several of the top prospects, starting with Sam Acho.
The college defensive end was run through linebacker drills and improved on his terrific performance at the combine. Acho brushed up on some of the smaller details of the linebacker position, looking very fluid moving in reverse and displaying a smooth backpedal. He caught the ball well in pass coverage and showed the ability to quickly change direction without hesitation. Acho has been lauded for his spirit and approach as he's known as a player who's the first one to the workout and the last to leave.
Defensive backs Aaron Williams and Chykie Brown both looked solid in drills. Brown dropped just a single pass and looked good in his backpedal, which had been questioned. Williams was very fluid and fast moving sideline-to-sideline, which is more evidence to those who feel safety is his best position in the NFL, not cornerback, the spot he played for the Longhorns.
Curtis Brown attempted to participate in the position work but was forced to the sidelines after just a few drills, the result of the lingering effects of the stomach virus he's been suffering from.
Three big pro days of note are on today's schedule -- Texas, Utah and UCLA.
In Austin, cornerback Chykie Brown timed as fast as 4.36 in the 40 and posted a vertical jump of 39.5 inches. The 40 was more than 0.1 faster than his mark from Indianapolis (4.49) and he was three inches better in the vertical jump.
Another Texas cornerback, Aaron Williams, also bettered many of his numbers. Williams ran in the low-4.4s, timing as fast as 4.39 on some watches. He was also three pounds lighter (201) than his combine weight.
Several Texas seniors who were not invited to the combine impressed those on hand, starting with receiver James Kirkendoll. The Longhorns leading pass catcher in 2010, Kirkendoll ran 4.4 in the 40 despite a stumble at the start of his run. Teammates expected Kirkendoll to run in the low-4.3s and onlookers claimed the misstep cost him up to 0.1. He also posted a terrific broad jump of 11 feet.
Tight end Greg Smith, known more for his blocking rather than his athleticism and pass catching, touched 39 inches in the vertical jump and timed his 40 right around 4.80.
Curtis Brown, the Longhorns' third-highest rated defensive back, is just taking part in position drills today. The senior cornerback had initially planned to run the 40 but has been suffering from the stomach flu the past week. Brown will sit on his combine marks, including 4.51 in the 40.
Cheta Ozougwu of Rice decided not to put any more strain on his already wounded hamstring. Instead of running the 40, Ozougwu was put through a battery of defensive line and linebacker drills for the teams in attendance. Sources from his camp said Ozougwu will run the 40 prior to the draft once his injury heals.
• Cincinnati receiver Armon Binns, who ran much better than expected (4.50) at the combine, improved on some of his other marks today. Binns touched 33.5 inches in the vertical jump, an improvement of two inches. He also bettered his broad jump by three inches, posting a mark of 10-feet, 1-inch. Binns later looked solid catching the ball and he adds to the depth of quality receivers who will be available in the middle rounds of the draft.
Cincinnati holds its pro day today but one player who won't be participating is offensive lineman Jason Kelce. During the combine, Kelce turned in one of the best workouts of any offensive lineman in Indianapolis. His 40 time of 4.89 was almost .10 faster than other lineman and his 10-yard split time (1.70) was outstanding. His marks in the short shuttle (4.14) and three cone (7.22) were also the best of any blocker.
What made Kelce's performance all the more remarkable was he was sick during the workout. Kelce was violently ill throughout his stay in Indianapolis and was eventually diagnosed with appendicitis. He underwent an appendectomy March 9 and has two more weeks of recovery.
• At Rice, defensive end/linebacker Cheta Ozougwu is hoping to run the 40 but recently suffered a hamstring injury in training which may limit him to just position drills. Ozougwu, who played defensive end for the Owls, projects to linebacker in the NFL. He looked outstanding during position drills at the combine and a good 40 before the draft could push him into the initial 125 selections.
• The Utah State workout is under way and cornerback Curtis Marsh looked impressive. Marsh, who pulled out of the Senior Bowl with a hamstring injury, timed as fast as 4.37 in the 40 this morning.
• Small school cornerback Cortez Allen was expected to run at The Citadel today but rainy conditions prevented him from timing in the 40.
Just about all the Miami Hurricanes who participated stood on their numbers from Indianapolis at today's pro-day, though many looked solid in position drills.
Receiver Leonard Hankerson, who ran a better-than-expected 40 time at the combine, looked good running routes. Hankerson was quick and fluid into breaks and smooth in his movements. He struggled with catching the ball. Hankerson was working with a brand new quarterback brought in for the pro day. Nevertheless, he has moved into the draft's initial 40 selections and has a workout scheduled with the Kansas City Chiefs in the beginning of April.
Running back Damien Berry ran the 40 as low a 4.47. He looked solid in position drills -- catching the ball well and showing a nice amount of quickness. The same can be said for Graig Cooper, who seems recovered from his knee surgery of just over a year ago. Many raved how quick and fluid Cooper was in drills as well as his hands.
Brandon Harris looked terrific in cornerback drills and has established himself as a player who will quickly come off the board in Round 2.
Underrated Ryan Hill, who started over Demarcus Van Dyke at one cornerback position for most of 2010, ran as low as 4.52 in the 40 and turned in a short shuttle time of 3.76. His play and workout may help Hill sneak into the last round.
Tight end Richard Gordon, who measured 6-3½, weighed 267 and ran a 4.65 seconds during the first, abbreviated Hurricanes pro day, got under 4.6 on a few watches today. During drills, Gordon was described as stiff and mechanical. The big prospect has always been labeled a better athlete than football player and he did nothing to discourage that belief.
The week concludes with a light pro-day schedule as the Miami Hurricanes take to the field after typhoon-like rains forced cancellation of their original workout two weeks ago.
The buzz continues to build around Boise State backup quarterback Mike Coughlin, who wowed scouts Thursday. One anonymous former Bronco, who played with Coughlin at Boise State and is now on an NFL roster, was not surprised by the events. He said Coughlin always showed the physical skills in practice and in his opinion the program would have done just as well with Coughlin under center as it has done with Kellen Moore. The quarterback-needy Seattle Seahawks have already scheduled a workout with the former Boise State backup.
In a draft that's bursting at the seams with talented defensive linemen, someone will inevitably slip through the cracks. South Florida prospect Terrell McClain wanted to make sure he would not be the one and gave scouts something to think about after his pro-day performance. Thirty teams showed up for Thursday's workout, including the Chicago Bears brain trust (general manager Jerry Angelo, head coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli) and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
McClain, who tipped the scales at 297 at the combine, ran his 40 in the low 4.8s, an improvement of about .15 from Indianapolis. His work in position drills was outstanding. McClain was smooth in all his movements and showed a violent hand punch during bag drills. His workout today and performances at the combine and during Shrine week could seal McClain as a top 60 selection.
Several draft sleepers left a positive impression on scouts:
• Middle Tennessee State defender Jamari Lattimore turned a few heads and answered questions about his speed. Lattimore, who posted 15 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks as a senior turned in a solid workout in 48-degree weather. He measured 6 feet, 2.5 inches and 235 pounds, posted 40 times which clocked between 4.68 to 4.71 seconds and ran the three cone in 7.04 seconds. The latter mark would put him in the top half dozen results of all the outside linebackers at the combine. Lattimore looked solid in position drills and could now get consideration in the late rounds.
• Five teams traveled to New Mexico pro day primarily to watch offensive tackle Byron Bell. The massive lineman measured 6-5 and 339 pounds. He posted a solid mark of 30.5 inches in the vertical jump and ran the 40 in the mid-to-upper 5.3s. Bell, who was denied an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA after missing all but one game as a freshman due to injury, is considered a developmental prospect by NFL teams and will get late-round consideration.
• During the UNLV pro-day, All-conference left tackle Matt Murphy looked solid at 304 pounds and just under 6-4. He posted an impressive 33 inches in the vertical jump and completed 25 reps on the bench. During position drills Murphy was also asked to snap the ball. Most teams project him to offensive guard, though he'll also receive consideration at center.
Every once in a while a backup quarterback who rarely saw playing time on the college field impresses scouts during pro day with their physical skills. Matt Cassel, who was a career backup to Matt Leinart at USC, is the most prominent example. Today was another one of those situations.
While the Boise State offense revolves around junior quarterback Kellen Moore, it was Broncos backup Mike Coughlin who turned heads today. The senior, who threw just nine passes last season and 19 the prior year, wowed those in attendance with the ability to accurately make all the throws. His passes were delivered with speed and Coughlin rarely missed the mark. The 6-foot-4 passer has the physical skills to play at the next level and is receiving positive reviews from Boise State coach Chris Petersen. The limited film available on Coughlin will likely keep him out of the draft's seven rounds yet his performance today just about assures him an invitation to some team's camp, once they open up.
Boise State receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis looked terrific in the catching workouts. Both displayed soft hands and caught most everything thrown their direction. Young also ran terrific routes, a far cry from the combine, during which he struggled to stay on his feet. Young's official 40 time was 4.41, which should move him back into the draft's initial 45 selections.
Safety Jeron Johnson also improved his draft stock. Johnson, who was limited at the combine with a hamstring issue, posted a short shuttle time of 3.97, which was faster than all but two safeties in Indianapolis. Scouts were pleasantly surprised with his ball skills and defensive back fundamentals during the workout. He caught everything thrown to him in ball drills. Several teams left the workout feeling Johnson delivered more than they expected.
Ryan Winterswyk was run through defensive line, linebacker and tight end drills. The Boise State defensive end posted nine tackles for loss as a senior yet many think his best pro position is tight end. Some are comparing him to Jason Pociask of the Dallas Cowboys.
• In San Diego State, both Aztecs receivers put on a show for the scouts on hand.
DeMarco Sampson, who was unable to work out at the combine as he recovered from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, ran times between 4.38 and 4.42 in the 40, answering questions about his speed. He touched 35.5 inches in the vertical jump then looked smooth in position drills, catching every ball thrown to him.
Teammate Vincent Brown was significantly faster in the 40 than last month at the combine, timing mostly in the upper-4.5s on watches, though a few had him quicker. This will be a relief to many, as Brown, who looked exceptional catching the ball during the Senior Bowl and combine, ran a best of 4.68 in Indianapolis.
Today, receivers Titus Young of Boise State and Vincent Brown from San Diego State hope to improve on pedestrian 40 times from the combine. If they do, it will reshape the receiver board. Several lesser known prospects hope to impress scouts at New Mexico, UNLV and Middle Tennessee.
One player who won't be working out today is Colt Brennan. The former Redskins quarterback, who was initially scheduled to take part in the SDSU workout today, decided not to travel to the event in part due to our report from Monday. His plans will be put on hold until the league's labor negotiations are settled.
North Carolina State linebacker Nate Irving impressed the crowd of scouts on hand today, putting up a solid workout after not participating in any of the testing at the combine. Irving, who weighed in at 242 pounds, posted 40 times which ranged between 4.68 and 4.73 on many watches. He completed 27 reps on the bench press and posted a vertical jump of 33.5 inches. Coaches in Raleigh said Irving looked terrific in position drills, quickly moving about the field and effortlessly changing direction. The workout should move the versatile defender, who can play either inside or outside linebacker, into the middle rounds.
Underrated receiver Owen Spencer also had a solid day. He ran as fast as 4.47 in the 40, slightly better than his combine time of 4.53. Spencer, who caught passes from Elon quarterback Scott Riddle, looked very impressive during position drills. He's a late-round sleeper that could make an NFL roster as a fourth receiver.
• While most of the UConn players who went to the combine stood on their marks, linebacker Lawrence Wilson did run the 40. He was timed in the 4.6-range. That's a solid mark for the senior, who tipped the scales at 229 pounds at the combine, bigger than expected.
Fullback Anthony Sherman took part in position drills and looked terrific catching the ball. Scouts in attendance think Sherman will be the first lead blocker off the board in the draft, likely in round four.
• In Chattanooga, UTC defensive back Buster Skrine, who was as fast as 4.29 at the combine, did only position drills for those on hand and looked solid. His footwork, balance and movement skills were impressive. Scouts always knew Skrine was a top athlete but they now think he's starting to transition those skills onto the football field as his defensive back mechanics have significantly improved the past four months.
Almost a dozen pro days highlight Wednesday's schedule, comprised mostly of small school prospects and middle-round players. Scouts will be watching linebacker Nate Irving of North Carolina State, who did not run at the combine but is expected to workout today.
In light of the strange circumstances surrounding the workout at Georgia on Tuesday, we wondered if it was a good thing that receivers A.J. Green and Kris Durham had a sub-par quarterback in Justin Roper throw the ball during drills. We thought it was and the scouts we spoke with agreed. Considering the timing was off between quarterback and receiver and Green was forced to reach vertically or slow up in routes to catch passes, it showcased his natural receiving skills and reliable hands. It made Green work harder in many aspects to catch the ball compared to having a quarterback who was able to throw strikes all morning. Though this was expected, scouts we spoke with came away from Tuesday's pro day with a greater appreciation of Green's pass catching skills and now have Durham as a late-round target.
Twenty-five teams were in Reno to watch the pro prospects from Nevada, and the star did not disappoint. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw 38 passes and had just two poor throws. Just as he did at the Senior Bowl and during much of his combine workout, Kaepernick was on the money, hitting receivers in stride and only a few times forcing them to adjust to throws which were off the mark. It would not be a surprise for a quarterback-needy franchise to look Kaepernick's way at the beginning of round two if they are locked out from one of the top signal callers in the early selections.
Running back Vai Taua improved on many of his combine numbers, running as fast as 4.56s in the 40, almost .1 better than his mark from Indianapolis. His bench press of 24 reps was also an improvement by four lifts. By all accounts, Taua looked terrific in all his position drills afterward, displaying a lot of quickness and athleticism. Scouts were pleased with his pass-catching skills.
Tight end Virgil Green sat on his combine numbers but also caught the ball well. Defensive lineman/outside linebacker Dontay Moch had an up and down day. While he looked athletic on the field, Moch was off-balance in the bag drills.
Georgia's pro day took a strange twist when Bulldogs receivers AJ Green and Kris Durham walked onto the field with Montana quarterback Justin Roper. The problem wasn't that Roper didn't play for Georgia, it was that his hometown of Buford, Ga., is farther than 40 miles from Athens, where the workout took place, meaning scouts and NFL personnel were prohibited from watching the drills in person. Instead, they were hustled into an adjoining facility, where they watched on monitors.
That said, it was a terrific pass-catching day for Green. He was quick in all his actions and displayed the uncanny ability to explode off the line and keep his momentum going throughout the route. He quickly got into breaks and immediately positioned himself to make the reception upon exit. Green looked natural catching the ball, showing soft hands and grabbing everything that came in his direction. If there were any belief that Alabama receiver Julio Jones had grabbed the top spot on the receiver list for April's draft, Green put an end to that today.
Durham also displayed great athleticism and solidified his chance of being a later round selection. He started the day by running 4.43 in the 40 after measuring 6-5 and 217 pounds. His vertical jump was a solid 35 inches and he completed 17 reps on the bench. He too looked terrific catching the ball, making several acrobatic receptions. Durham moves toward the draft as one of the true sleepers at the receiver position, yet most in the scouting community will tell you he's a legitimate fourth receiver in the NFL.
Roper, who began his college career at Oregon, struggled with his timing, as could be expected, but did enough to warrant looks late in the draft. He has good size and enough arm strength to play in the NFL, yet needs to fine tune his mechanics.
Earlier in the workout linebackers Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble looked solid in drills, showing skill in coverage. Dent's time was slightly disappointing as most scouts had him timed at 4.79s. This will not do anything to dissuade teams from believing Dent is a two-down defender at the next level. Gamble's time was barely better at 4.78.
At Georgia's pro day, receivers A.J. Green and Kris Durham are waiting to start pass catching drills. Sources on the field say there's a question of who will throw the ball to them. As we reported Monday, only draft eligible players are allowed to partake in the workout and the only quarterback who fits that context in Athens today is former Montana signal caller Justin Roper, who hails from the state of Georgia. There is a possibility Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden could end up as the practice quarterback.
Defensive lineman/outside linebacker Justin Houston participated in position drills and looked better this morning than during his combine performance. Houston was smooth and showed good power as well as punch in the bag drills. He was very athletic and successfully completed all the defensive line drills. The story was slightly different during linebacker drills where Houston did not look comfortable. He often struggled changing direction, losing a lot of momentum dropping into coverage then simulating chasing the action in pursuit, and was often off balance. This will raise the question moving towards the draft as to which position Houston projects to in the NFL -- defensive end or outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment. We've maintained all along Houston is best placed as a speed rushing defensive end in a four-man line, similar to Brandon Graham, the first round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles one year ago.
Offensive lineman Clint Boiling continues to impress scouts and rise up boards. Boiling sat on most of his combine results but looked good in drills. He displayed better than expected footwork in pass protection and also looked powerful in run blocking drills. Boiling has been branded by many as a limited athlete, yet he's disproving this opinion. The ability to be used at several positions on the offensive line makes Boiling a valuable commodity and will push him into the draft's top 75 picks.
Two more Hawkeyes improved on combine results during Monday's pro day.
Outside linebacker Jeremiha Hunter posted 40 times in the 4.65 range and touched 34 inches in the vertical jump. That's significantly better than the Indy combine, where Hunter maxed out at 4.77 and hit 31.5 inches in the vertical after tipping scales at 239 pounds. The underrated prospect comes off a somewhat disappointing senior season after showing signs of next-level ability in 2009. This workout could vault him back into the later rounds.
Unofficially, scouts told us they had safety Tyler Sash posting a 40 time of 4.56, beating his combine mark of 4.62.
There's been no final decision, but receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos could still end up doing position drills and catching the ball for scouts. As previously reported, the former Hawkeye just tested for the teams attending his individual workout.
The Dolphins, Cardinals and Buccaneers all traveled to the private workout of former Iowa receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos. The Hawkeyes' alltime-leading wideout posted 4.50s in the 40 after measuring 200 pounds and just slightly under 6-feet tall. He touched 34.5 inches in the vertical jump and completed an impressive 21 reps on the bench press. Johnson-Koulianos just tested Monday and completed no position drills.
Results from the Iowa pro day are in and the news keeps getting better for Christian Ballard.
The versatile defensive lineman, who projects to tackle or as a two-gap end in the NFL, posted times as fast as 4.68 in the 40 today. That's faster than his combine time and Ballard tipped the scales at 286 pounds, three heavier than Indianapolis.
Ballard's marks of 7.15 in the three cone and 34-inches in the vertical jump were also personal bests for the big lineman and marked improvements over his combine results. His only dissapointing performance was 15 reps on the bench.
His teammate Adrian Clayborn also improved several marks today including his vertical jump (35.5 inches), and three cone (7.08). During the combine Clayborn posted some of the best three-cone and shuttle times of any defensive lineman in attendance.
Afterwards the Hawkeye duo participated in both defensive line and linebacker drills. Both have likely sealed themselves as first round picks.
In Texas, receiver Edmund Gates impressed the more than one dozen teams that showed up for pro day at Abilene Christian. Gates sat on his combine 40 time, which was in the mid-4.3s, but improved his broad jump (11-feet, 2-inches) while also posting a time of 6.81 in the three cone. Later Gates looked solid catching the ball for scouts and also fielded punts.
As recently as a year ago, a guy looking to get back into the NFL could piggyback on a nearby school's pro day to try to impress the scouts and head coaches in attendance. Former Cleveland Browns running back William Green had a terrific workout during Matt Ryan's pro day in 2008. Not so this year. During the labor impasse, out of a fear of union lawsuits, the NFL has told coaches to have contact with only draft-eligible guys, meaning such comebacks dreams have been put on hold.
Take Colt Brennan, a sixth-round selection of the Washington Redskins in 2008 who made headlines in November after being involved in a serious auto accident. He had circled Thursday's pro day at San Diego State as the next step in his NFL comeback. Now he'll need to be invited to a camp this summer, if there are camps.
Then there's former New Mexico State defensive back Siddeeq Shabazz, who tried to circumvent the rules last week by using a different name and listing the school he attended as Western New Mexico. For a guy who was drafted in the seventh round in 2003 by the Oakland Raiders and who spent four years in the league before joining the Calgary Stampeders, it was a move of desperation that failed. He was eventually recognized and didn't get a chance to workout.
• Monday is a slow start to what should be an important week of pro days. The two big events on the schedule are Abilene Christian and Iowa. Most of the top names in both workouts are expected to rest on their combine numbers. Yet the big story today will be the workout of former Hawkeye Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.
Iowa's all-time leading receiver was dismissed from the team after an arrest on drug related charges last December, the most serious of which were dropped by prosecutors one month later. Before his arrest, Johnson-Koulianos had climbed as high as the third round on some draft boards, but the arrest changed that opinion.
His workout will not take part with his former teammates because school officials have banned him from participating in the campus pro day. Instead, scouts will travel to a gym just off campus after Iowa's workout to watch Johnson-Koulianos.
An exciting week of pro-day events reached its end today with just three noteworthy workouts on the schedule.
Ten teams traveled to Las Cruces, New Mexico primarily to watch cornerback Davon House workout out and the all-Conference performer did not disappoint. Scouts timed House as fast as 4.32s in the forty, significantly better than his combine mark of 4.44s. House, who struggled throughout his senior season with an injured ankle, later impressed scouts in position drills. He now has a shot to slide into the draft's initial 100 selections.
Another cornerback that sped up his time from the combine was Justin Rogers of Richmond. The versatile player, who produced as a defensive back and return specialist, stopped watches in the mid 4.3s area. His best combine mark was 4.45s. Rogers, who also impressed scouts during Shrine week, won't get past the middle of round four.
Rogers' teammate, defensive tackle Martin Parker, ran just under 4.95s, a slight improvement from his combine mark. Parker measured 6-feet, 2-inches, 303-pounds in Indianapolis.
Scouts watched more than a dozen players workout at the Stanford pro day.
Cornerback Richard Sherman improved on his combine marks running 4.47 in the 40 (4.54 at the combine), posting a 40-inch vertical jump (38-inches at the combine) and 11-foot broad jump (10-feet, 5-inches at the combine). Afterward he was run through a battery of defensive back and wide receiver drills. Sherman slid over to cornerback in 2009 after spending his first two seasons in the program at wideout.
Defensive end/outside linebacker Tom Keiser, who was not invited to the combine, timed his 40s between 4.78 and 4.85 seconds, completed 25 reps on the bench and touched 34 inches on the vertical. The junior likely cemented himself as a late-round pick.
The surprise of the day may well have been Oklahoma transfer Chase Beeler. The all-conference center displayed terrific movement skills and impressed scouts in all the drills.
Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert had his shot today in front of NFL coaches and general managers. By all accounts, his day was a success and left teams with a lot to think about.
Gabbert looked relaxed compared to Cam Newton one week ago, and his throwing session was much more up-tempo with better pace. After primarily taking his snaps out of the shotgun formation for Mizzou, Gabbert lined up exclusively under center today and looked comfortable.
He showcased his 4.61-speed from the combine by displaying the ability to effortlessly move outside the pocket to throw on the run. His mobility was one of his best skills of the day.
Though Gabbert was high on a few throws and had receivers reaching vertically, he displayed a quick release and his passes were accurate for most of the workout. He reportedly completed 44-of-49 passes.
There were just two incomplete passes due to poorly thrown balls. The other passes that hit the turf were catchable throws dropped by the receivers. Unlike Newton, who was able to throw to his own draft-eligible receivers and running backs during the Auburn pro day, Gabbert used receivers from small colleges who he had limited experience with.
The passes Gabbert missed on seemed to be the result of the junior quarterback trying to put too much juice on the ball, in an effort to impress scouts with his arm strength.
Rounding out the Missouri pro day, several other Tigers also impressed, including Aldon Smith, who looked sensational in position drills. Really not known as a strong defender, Smith showed violent hand punch in the bag drills. Scouts think the 262-pound redshirt sophomore is an exciting prospect who will only get better as he physically matures. After today, Smith, who stood on his 40 time from the combine (4.74), looks like a top-15 choice.
Underrated center Tim Barnes, who did not play in the Senior Bowl and was not invited to the combine, also impressed. Barnes measured 6-3½ and 300 pounds. He posted an impressive mark of 31.5 inches in the vertical and completed 26 reps on the bench. His time of 5.11 in the 40 was also solid.
Barnes looked terrific in position drills after successfully snapping the ball to Gabbert, who lined up under center. Barnes was a shotgun snapper for most of his Missouri career. Despite Barnes' limited exposure in the postseason, a number of teams consider him the best pure center in the draft. Don't be surprised if he's selected in the fifth round.
Cornerback Kevin Rutland improved a number of his marks from the combine. His 40 time of 4.46 was one-tenth better than his mark in Indianapolis, while his vertical jump of 37.5 inches was an improvement by two inches.
• During Michigan pro day, linebacker Jonas Mouton showed significant improvement from his combine performance. His 40 times clocked between 4.73, one-tenth better. Mouton, who did not lift at the combine, pushed up 17 reps on the bench. By all accounts, he was fluid in drills, displaying quick feet and the ability to effortlessly move around the field.
• Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling, who struggled with leg injuries all of last season and only ran the 40 once at the combine (4.43) before pulling out with a hamstring injury, did not participate in the Cavaliers pro day. He is scheduled for an April 4 workout.
It was a quick day in Morgantown, W.V., in more ways than one. The Mountaineers just finished their pro day and there were several outstanding performances.
Running back Noel Devine, who was unable to run at the combine due to a leg injury, timed 4.43 in the 40. This was a solid not spectacular time for a skill player who measured 5-feet-7½ and 174 pounds in Indianapolis.
Defensive lineman Chris Neild looked terrific all day. He timed 5.09 in the 40, slightly improved over his average times from the combine. Neild then impressed scouts during position drills, looking fluid and smooth. With all the talent available on the defensive line in April's draft, Neild is truly one of the position's best kept secrets. He tested better than expected, plays with a blue collar mentality and has all the nuances teams want in a starting nose tackle for the NFL. Look for him to be off the board somewhere in round three.
On the other hand, safety Robert Sands continues to struggle. A slider after his combine performance, Sands looked stiff and slow today in all his drills. Despite a poor safety class, Sands will ultimately drop later in the draft than most are predicting.
It will be a busy St Patrick's Day, headlined by the Missouri event with Blaine Gabbert finally throwing for scouts. The testing for the Mizzou hopefuls starts at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time and we expect Gabbert's workout to commence a few hours later.
In Michigan, linebacker Jonas Mouton hopes to improve on his disappointing combine time in the 40. A large crowd is expected for Stanford's pro day, in part to watch junior defensive end/outside linebacker Tom Keiser, who surprisingly did not receive an invitation to the combine.
• Finishing up some late odds and ends from Wednesday, Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak ran surprisingly well dropping into the mid-4.6. Receiver Torrey Smith and running back Da'Rel Scott both stood on their impressive combine marks.
Two Michigan State linebackers stood out this afternoon. All-American linebacker Greg Jones slightly improved his 40 time from Indianapolis, clocking in the low 4.7-second area on a number of watches. His best time from the combine was 4.75.
Eric Gordon, who was not invited to the combine, proved he was deserving of a spot. Gordon ran as fast as 4.58 in the 40, completed 25 reps on the bench press then touched 40.5 inches in the vertical jump and 10-feet 7-inches in the broad jump. Those last two marks were better than any turned in by the linebackers at the combine. Additional good news for Gordon was he tipped the scales at 225 pounds. There was concern the fierce defender was too small to be used at linebacker but today should quell much of that criticism. Gordon now looks like a solid late round prospect for a team which employs a 4-3 defense.
• Division III receiver prospect Cecil Shorts really impressed today shaving more than 0.1 off of his 40 time from the combine during the Mount Union pro day. The record-setting receiver, who was struggling with a groin injury in Indianapolis, ran a pair of 40s in the rain which clocked 4.38/4.45. His best hand time at the combine was 4.50. Most impressive was Short's time in the first 10 yards, which was clocked at 1.48, by far faster than any receiver that ran at the combine. Scouts study the 10-yard time as it is an indicator of a receiver's ability to quickly release off the line then accelerate to full speed. Today's numbers, coupled with Shorts' practice session at the combine, could vault him into the draft's top 100 selections. Shorts will be working out with the New England Patriots in the coming days.
• Finally some additional news from Penn State pro day where running back Evan Royster ran in the mid-4.5s on a number of watches. That's a significant improvement from his combine best of 4.65.
Quarterback Christian Ponder had another fine throwing session at Florida State's pro day. Ponder, who has been hampered by injuries since the middle of his junior season, is a sure good bet to be selected in the middle of round two.
Rodney Hudson sat on his combine marks but looked good in drills. The offensive guard is projected to center by most teams and could come off the board late in the second frame.
Markus White improved his combine time by .1s, timing as fast as 4.75s on several watches. The college defensive end, who tipped the scales at 266-pounds at the combine, performed only linebacker drills today. Several teams have pegged White as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
• Almost two dozen NFL teams showed up at Penn State and there were some solid performances by many of the unknown prospects.
Defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu, who was not invited to the combine, posted 40 times in the low-4.8s and completed 26 reps on the bench press. The performance may be good enough to push the 290-pound, one-gap lineman into the late rounds.
Offensive lineman Lou Eliades, who's still rehabbing a knee injury which ended his 2010 season after four games, completed 34 reps on the bench press. Eliades was graded as a free agent prospect entering the season and if given a clean bill of health, will surely be brought into a camp this summer once they open up.
The pro day schedule picks up steam today as a number of highly rated prospects are scheduled to workout. At Florida State, underrated defensive line/linebacker prospect Markus White hopes to improve on his disappointing performance from the combine. Star linebacker Greg Jones is another looking to quicken his forty time from Indianapolis at the Michigan State event. A large contingent of coaches is expected to travel to Illinois to watch linebacker Martez Wilson and defensive lineman Corey Liuget, both of whom are expected to stand on their combine marks and perform only position drills.
With Daniel Thomas not running at the Kansas State pro day due to persistent hamstring issues, and Jonathan Baldwin standing on his combine numbers in Pittsburgh, most of the focus today was in Gainesville where the Florida Gators worked out for NFL teams.
There were a number of solid performances starting with offensive guard Michael Pouncey. The versatile prospect looked good in drills, doing everything that scouts asked of him. He's not the athlete his Maurkice -- who was selected in the first round of last April's draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers -- is, yet he clearly sits above the rest of the pack as the top interior offensive lineman available next month.
Justin Trattou had a solid day as the Gators former defensive end ran under 4.7s in the 40-yard dash and posted a vertical jump of 34 inches. Measuring just over 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, Trattou also looked effective during the drill session where he completed both defensive line and linebacker drills. Trattou was not invited to the combine yet could slide into the late part of round seven for a 3-4 team that wants to stand him up over tackle and rush the passer.
Both Gator safeties improved their 40 marks from the combine. Ahmad Black, who was terribly slow in Indianapolis with a time in the mid 4.8's, was one-tenth of a second better today, clocking 4.74s. Will Hill also improved his mark, timing under 4.6. Both prospects had their issues in position drills looking slightly off balance changing direction and not showing the ability to drive to the action, as defensive backs in the NFL must do.
• During Pittsburgh pro-day the top prospects both looked good in position drills. Baldwin ran much better routes compared to his combine workout and caught the ball well. The big-bodied pass catcher could slide into the late part of Round 1. Meanwhile Jabaal Sheard also looked good in a variety of defensive line and linebacker drills. He's unlikely to slip past the middle of round two based on his combine time (4.67s) and performance today.
• Finally, Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas has scheduled April 5th at 2 p.m. as the date he'll workout for NFL teams. Hamstring issues kept Thomas out of the Senior Bowl then prevented him from participating in combine workouts. The event will take place on campus at Kansas State.
Pro days have been pushed aside by the hottest topic in the league right now -- the NFLPA reportedly asking players to boycott the draft.
Several reports Monday claimed the NFLPA was asking some of the draft's top prospects not to attended the festivities at Radio City Music Hall.
One agent who represents a top 12 prospect said he was furious with the union and stated they should not exploit the players for the benefit of the NFLPA. "Why use kids that have never been part of the union as pawns for the NFLPA?" the agent said. "This is a big moment for my player and his family. They are excited about traveling to New York and standing on the stage in front of the world once their name is announced. This is a moment in his life he will never get back."
Moreover, it's a bit ironic considering the players being asked to boycott the draft and show solidarity with the NFLPA are the same players who may have a rookie wage scale imposed on them as part of a new CBA.
"It will be an all or nothing situation," said another agent, one who says he understands why the NFLPA wants to boycott the event and why the players want to attend the draft. "You won't get some players at one event and a few at the other."
The agent speculated the NFLPA would enlist a player with the popularity of someone such as Peyton Manning to inform the top players of the necessity of not attending the draft. He also speculated it's possible the league would pay the top players to attend the event at Radio City Music Hall, an appearance fee if you will. Considering the logistics of flying players, family and friends to New York as well as housing, feeding and entertaining them, he expects a final decision to be made within two weeks.
There's a new leader in the clubhouse! Last week, we told you of the exploits of Blaine Sumner, the sleeper nose tackle from the Colorado School of Mines who completed 49 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press during his March 8 pro day. That number equaled the amount completed by Stephen Paea, who set the combine record in February. Sumner topped that mark on Monday when he completed 52 reps as a participant in the Air Force pro-day. He actually completed 55 reps, but three were disqualified by scouts in attendance. Besides being an All-Conference defensive tackle, Sumner has marks of 900 pounds in the squat and 425 in the clean. He will be tough to pass up in the late rounds.
The praise for Patrick Peterson keeps coming in after Monday's workout. The Cleveland Browns are set to privately work him out on Wednesday, while Peterson has already scheduled visits with six teams that own top-10 picks in the draft. Two more clubs are expected to fly him in before the draft.
Scouts came away from the Central Michigan pro-day impressed with the two headlining linebackers they traveled to see.
First up was Matt Berning, who was not invited to last month's combine, stating his case to be stamped as a late-round selection. The 242-pound outside linebacker posted 4.72s in the 40, touched 33 inches in the vertical jump and completed 28 reps on the bench. Those marks put Berning on top of the median, compared to the linebackers that performed at the combine. He also looked good in the position drills.
Nick Bellore ran incredibly well Monday and shaved more than 0.1 off his combine time. Bellore was mostly timed in the low 4.7s, though one watch did have the fierce run-stuffer at 4.68. This is sure to help Bellore's draft stock, as scouts were most concerned about his speed -- something they can rest easy about this evening.
Just over two dozen scouts attended LSU pro day in Baton Rouge this afternoon.
As previously noted, defensive back Patrick Peterson stood on all his combine marks but participated in position drills and by all accounts looked terrific. He was fluid, smooth and very quick. Peterson cemented himself as an early first-round pick with his performance.
Drake Nevis was another defensive prospect who impressed scouts. The defensive tackle timed as fast as 4.91 in the 40 (.05 better than his combine mark) then posted solid marks of 31 reps on the bench press and 30.5 inches in the vertical jump. Nevis did this at 298 pounds, four heavier than he tipped the scales in Indianapolis.
Receiver Terrence Toliver struggled with a hamstring injury and was unable to complete his second attempt at the 40. His first time was no better than his best combine mark (4.52) but Toliver impressed scouts by finishing the workout and displaying a lot of skill in the pass catching drills. Toliver did post a vertical jump of 33.5 inches, 1.5 better than his combine mark.
Linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, who did not run the 40 at the combine, timed 4.75 today. His drills session was solid yet did nothing to dispel the belief amongst scouts that he's a two-down, run-defending linebacker.
The second week on the pro-day schedule starts off in grand style as scouts travel to Baton Rouge to watch NFL hopefuls from LSU showcase their talents. Receiver Terrance Toliver is just one of the many players who hopes to improve on combine performances.
Top-rated defensive back Patrick Peterson, on the other hand, will stand on his numbers from Indianapolis and perform only position drills.
Peterson, who met extensively with top brass from the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night, is hovering around 219 pounds, his weight at the combine when he timed the 40 in the low-4.3 area. This has some wondering if the skilled defensive back may be a bit to big for cornerback and would be better off at safety.
Central Michigan also holds their pro day this afternoon and we'll keep an eye on underrated linebacker Matthias Berning. The German-born Berning was overshadowed by his teammate Nick Bellore, a combine participant, yet many in the scouting community feel Berning's better equipped to be a three-down defender at the next level.
There was no rest for the weary as twenty-eight franchises traveled to Tucson, Ariz., in over 80-degree temperatures to watch hopefuls from the Arizona Wildcats work out. Many of the prospects did not disappoint.
Running back Nic Grigsby was the star. Grigsby, who measured just under 6-foot and weighed 199 pounds, posted a best of 4.35 in the 40, reached 43 inches in the vertical jump and 11-2 in the broad jump. Those last two marks are better than any of the running backs who worked out at the combine, while only one ball carrier in Indianapolis bettered Grigsby's 40 result.
Fast-rising Brooks Reed sat on his combine marks, but decided to take part in both linebacker and defensive line drills. Despite the heat, Reed looked terrific and was praised numerous times by Jacksonville Jaguar defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who ran the workout. Reed has solidified himself as a Top-40 selection and it would not surprise anyone if the senior slid into the late part of Round one.
Outside linebacker Ricky Elmore improved many of his combine marks, including a 4.79 in the 40 and 34-5 in the vertical jump.
Center Colin Baxter, who underwent knee surgery last December to repair a damaged meniscus, surprised scouts by taking part in the workout. Baxter, who iss not yet up to full speed, looked solid in all drills. One of the more underrated players at his position, he already has private visits scheduled with three teams. Baxter plans on working out for scouts again on April 8.
• In Moscow, Idaho, a late-starting pro-day finally finished in the early evening hours as several Vandals took to the field and impressed scouts.
Tight end Daniel Hardy, who was unable to workout at the combine due to a hamstring injury, posted 40 times as fast as 4.69s, a solid number for the 250-pounder. Hardy is one of the better pass-catching tight ends and his time will reassure coaches who want to use him as a vertical threat at the position.
Safety Shiloh Keo was markedly better today, compared to his marks in Indianapolis and posted a time of 4.64. This represents and improvement of .1 from his best hand time at the combine. Considered one of the more fundamentally sound safety's in the draft, Keo will now receive consideration as a Top-100 selection in the draft.
• Twenty nine of the league's 32 teams showed up in Columbus, Ohio, and watched a number of Buckeyes improve their numbers from the combine. As reported earlier, receiver Dane Sanzenbacher timed under 4.5s, officially clocking a 4.48. It was a number which relieved the sure handed receiver, who now looks like a solid pick in the late rounds.
Linebacker Brian Rolle timed 4.51 seconds, 0.1 faster than his combine mark. The 5-9½, 225-pound Rolle was then asked by scouts to run through a battery of defensive back drills, something he had not specifically trained for. Rolle accepted the challenge and, by most acounts, did a solid job.
One of the better performances of the day was turned in by center/guard prospect Justin Boren. The 309-pound Boren turned in a 5.19 in the 40, an improvement of nearly 0.5 over his combine time. Why so much faster? Boren limped through his combine workout on a bad ankle, trying to hide the injury from scouts.
Many of the players are hoping to get yet another chance to work out in front of league decision-makers on Marth 30, the date their teammate Cameron Heyward will finally showcase his skills for scouts and coaches.
• From TCU comes word that a tight hamstring caused wide receiver Jeremy Kerley to make a late decision not to run the 40 for scouts in attendance. Kerley did field punts for a number of teams during the workout. Though there are no definite plans for Kerley to run again prior to the draft, he has already set up private visits with two teams and would run the 40 again if asked, according to members of his team.
Quarterback Andy Dalton threw the ball well. He was accurate and displayed good timing on just about all the passes he tossed, almost 50 in total.
Receiver Jimmy Young and offensive lineman Marcus Cannon only took part in position drills.
• At Ohio State, sure-handed wideout Dane Sanzenbacher was clocked under 4.5 seconds in the 40, an improvement of more than .05 from his combine mark. The number is important for Sanzenbacher, one of the best route runners in the receiver class, as it shows he can be more than just a possession wideout.
• At Purdue's pro day, underrated tight end Kyle Adams performed better than expected. The pass catching specialist ran 4.79 in the 40 after measuring 6-4½, 257 pounds. His vertical jump was 33.5 inches and three cone 7.1, marks which would have put him above the median line at the combine had Adams received an invitation.
Several pro days on Friday's schedule loom large and could impact the rankings at different positions.
• In Idaho, safety Shiloh Keo, who drew rave reviews after his practice session at the combine, hopes to improve on his 40 time from Indianapolis. His fastest time clocked 4.74 seconds. One-tenth faster could push Keo into the third round.
• In Fort Worth, TCU receiver Jeremy Kerley, who possesses some of the finest hands of any wideout in April's draft, looks to run faster than his combine best of 4.56.
• Usually pro day at Ohio State is a major event but considering what's presently taking place with the football team coupled with the fact top prospect Cameron Heyward is still recovering from elbow surgery, it will be anti-climatic for scouts.
• Anti-climatic is probably the best way to describe Oregon's pro day Thursday. Dependable wideout Jeff Maehl did not break 4.6 in the 40 while undersized linebacker Casey Matthews could not get under 4.8. The Ducks top prospect, defensive lineman Brandon Bair, only performed position drills and is a third-round pick at best.
• More from Nebraska.
Eric Hagg posted a 38.5-inch vertical jump, an improvement of four inches from his combine mark. Cornerback Prince Amukamara stood on his combine time and did not run the 40. Defensive end Pierre Allen continues to be hampered with a calf strain and was unable to run on Thursday. Allen plans on working out for scouts in early April.
• At Texas Tech, 18 teams made the trip primarily to watch Taylor Potts and the quarterback did not disappoint. Potts displayed good accuracy, timing and looked sharp on the more than two dozen passes. Scouts were most impressed by his ability to take snaps from under center, drop into the pocket with balance and easily move around before getting rid of the ball. It looked very natural from a quarterback that took the majority of his collegiate snaps from the shotgun formation. This undoubtedly vaults Potts, who's flown under the radar for most of the season, into the late rounds.
• Stephen Paea, you have company.
Much was written from Indianapolis when Oregon State defensive tackle Paea set the combine record by completing 49 reps on the bench. That mark was matched on Tuesday by Blaine Sumner from Colorado School of Mines, a Division II program.
The small-school defensive lineman measured 6-feet, 1½-inches and 335 pounds. Besides his solid mark on the bench press, Sumner also touched 32 inches in the vertical jump. Sumner will get a chance to top that number, which he thinks he can accomplish, as he's been asked to participate in next week's pro day at Air Force.
Not to be outdone, Sumner's teammate and record-setting sackmaster Marc Schiechl, also wowed the scouts in attendance. Schiechl, who holds the Div-II record with 45 career sacks, ran 4.64 40, posted a 35-inch vertical jump and broad jump of 10 feet, 5 inches. Oh yeah -- he also completed 38 reps on the bench. Primarily playing defensive end in college, Schiechl measured 6-feet-2½ and weighed 251 pounds. He was put through a battery of linebacker drills and looked terrific. He also will showcase his skills again during the Air Force pro day.
For the record, the last time Colorado School of Mines had a player selected in the draft was 1974. They may have a pair chosen next month.
Another small-school player that turned heads was Stephen Burton of West Texas A&M. The receiver significantly improved many of his combine marks, including the 40, despite running in windy conditions. His times averaged in the low 4.4 range, including a mark of 4.46 into a strong head wind. Burton's best hand time at the combine was 4.5. His marks of 35 inches in the vertical and 10-4 broad jump were also better than his Indy numbers.
Besides producing as a receiver at West Texas A&M, Burton was an accomplished return specialist, adding to his pro value. Expect to him to be drafted as Round 4 closes out.
• It was a blistering day in Lincoln as a several Nebraska prospects really improved their 40 times from the combine, starting with Niles Paul.
The receiver, who timed 4.57 seconds in Indianapolis, got that number down to 4.40 at pro day. Some teams had Paul as fast as 4.37 on stopwatches. Paul also improved his vertical jump by 1.5 inches, touching 36 today. Even if scouts add to Paul's 40 time because of the fast surface, the 224-pound wideout still comes out of the day with a forty in the 4.4s, which will improve his stock.
Safety Eric Hagg was another who was much swifter today. His times were in the low-to-mid 4.5s, with one team recording Hagg at 4.50 seconds. That's more than one-tenth faster than his performance in Indianapolis and like Paul, it will help Hagg's stock even if time is added because of the surface.
Finally tight end Mike McNeill, who was a surprise non-invitee at the combine, was timed at 4.61 seconds. This will push the productive pass catcher into the late rounds of the draft.
• In Louisville, scouts were intrigued to watch sleeper offensive tackle Byron Stingily. The big lineman did not disappoint.
Measuring 6-5 and 313 pounds, Stingily timed as fast as 4.89 in the 40 and posted a short shuttle time of 4.43. By comparison no offensive tackle at the combine ran as fast as Stingily while only one was able to top his shuttle time. He's likely to slide into the late rounds and is an exceptional developmental prospect.
• There was a large crowd at the Clemson pro day, primarily to see the defensive backs perform. The consensus was all three DBs -- cornerback Byron Maxwell, safety DeAndre McDaniel and Marcus Gilchrist, who can line up at either position -- looked good in all the drills, displaying a lot of natural skills. McDaniel's unofficial 40 time came in at 4.61, slightly better than his combine result. All three are being looked upon as prospects who can contribute as rookies in the secondary or on special teams, and potentially develop into starting players.
Defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins participated in a full workout and significantly improved many of his marks from the combine. The 311-pound lineman posted a 4.87 in the 40. His best time in Indianapolis was 5.03. Jenkins also improved his short shuttle time by two-tenths, stopping watches at 4.69. This will keep him in the hunt to be a top 75 selection in April.
• At the Miami Hurricane pro day, running back Damien Berry posted a 4.45 in the 40, almost a full tenth better than his combine number. Free-agent tight end prospect Richard Gordon ran in the high 4.6s after measuring in at 6-3½ and 267 pounds. Underrated cornerback Ryan Hill, who started ahead of DeMarcus Van Dyke last season, ran as fast as 4.50.
Unfortunately, a heavy rain storm made the field unusable and forced the pro day to be rescheduled for March 25.
• Scouts in Buffalo saw cornerback Josh Thomas improve on his combine performance. He ran 4.43 in the 40, slightly better than his combine average of 4.50. His vertical jump of 40 inches and broad jump of 10-feet, 8-inches were impressively better. Thomas has solidified himself as a mid-round choice.
His teammate, safety Davonte Shannon, also surprised scouts. Shannon's 40 times clocked 4.64, one-tenth better than scouts timed him last year. He's a free-agent prospect who will help a zone defense and play with a special teams mentality.
• Eight NFL franchises sent scouts and position coaches to Fort Valley, Ga., to watch Ricardo Lockett. The small-school receiver, who turned in a terrific combine workout, was impressive again.
The 211-pound Lockette pushed up 22 reps on the bench press, a number that was surpassed by just two receivers at the combine. His 3-cone time of 6.75 represented an improvement of nearly four-tenths from his mark in Indianapolis.
Lockette looked solid catching the ball on a rain-damaged field. There's been a ton of interest in the wideout, who could end up in the fourth round of April's draft.
Several pro days have already concluded, including at Kentucky and Indiana.
• In Lexington, receiver Randall Cobb and running back Derrick Locke both stood on their combine numbers but did perform position drills for scouts. When it came to catching the ball, one scout described both as "putting on a clinic" as each player caught everything thrown to them, ran crisp, precise routes and looked natural in all their skills.
The feeling from scouts leaving the workout is Cobb is a second-round lock and there's a chance that Locke, who has been compared to Dexter McCluster of the Kansas City Chiefs, could slide into the late part of the same frame.
Wildcat receiver Chris Matthews, who was not invited to the combine, had a solid performance. The 218-pound wideout was clocked at 4.56 seconds in the 40 and also caught the ball well. Matthews, who was not on the radar screen prior to the season, leaves pro day as a late-round pick.
• In Bloomington, receiver Terrence Turner shaved almost .06 seconds from his combine performance as he clocked 4.54 then caught everything thrown in his direction. The 215-pound wideout has been moving up draft boards since January and now looks like a solid fourth-round selection.
Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, who's still recovering from minor knee surgery done in January, won't run for scouts at Clemson's pro day. He has a date of April 1 set to showcase his skills.
Another highly rated junior won't run for scouts, this time at the Indiana's pro day. Receiver Tandon Doss, graded as a top 75 choice, underwent groin surgery last December and will workout on April 5.
Texas Tech is a pro day to closely monitor as quarterback Taylor Potts gets his chance to throw for scouts. One of the most efficient and productive quarterbacks in the nation, Potts,was not extended a combine invite. Tech's passing offense has offered little in the way of next level quarterbacks, yet most scouts think Potts is the most physically gifted passer to come out of the program in a long while.
• NFL teams flocked to Berkeley, Calif., to watch defensive end Cameron Jordan and several of his draft-eligible teammates' workout. Jordan, running back Shane Vereen and linebacker Michael Mohamed all stood on their combine numbers but participated in position drills.
For his part Jordan looked terrific. Even in shorts he looked forceful, explosive and displayed a great burst in his movement skills. The bottom line for Jordan, who projects as a top-10 pick, is he's a terrific athlete on the defensive line -- a combination that's always sought out in the early part of the draft.
One of the big winners from Cal's pro-day was Chris Conte. The defensive back measured just over 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. His 40 times averaged an even 4.5 seconds. Conte looked terrific in position drills displaying quick footwork and the ability to move sideline to sideline. The feedback from teams has been terrific with no less than a half dozen squads stamping him as a late second- to early third-round choice. With the weakness at the safety position in April's draft no one would be surprised if Conte is one of the first to be selected, with his name being called during the draft's second day.
• In Wisconsin the buzz on pro-day surrounded quarterback Scott Tolzien.
The signal caller threw close to 80 passes and just three fell incomplete. Tolzien displayed speed on the shorter passes and surprised scouts with his deep throws. For Tolzien, who performed well during Shrine week, then put in a good showing at the combine, it's another reason for teams to consider him in the late rounds.
Offensive linemen Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt as well as defensive lineman JJ Watt stood on most of their combine times, but were strong in drills. Carimi impressed scouts with his toughness as he finished the workout despite injuring his ankle while running the three cone.
The situation was a little different for John Clay.
The running back tipped the scale at 233 pounds (three more than the combine, but 35 less than his 2010 playing weight) and ran his 40 in the mid 4.7's (4.76 seconds), almost a one-tenth of a second faster than his time in Indianapolis. Clay did have his struggles catching the ball during drills and teams are torn as to what to do with him in the NFL.
• Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller continues to fly up draft boards with his impressive performances. Although he turned in a tremendous combine workout, Miller ran for scouts today in College Station and improved some of his marks. His 40 time was clocked as fast as 4.50, compared to an average of 4.53 in Indianapolis. Miller also ran the short and long shuttle and his times were comparable to his combine performance. The athletic defender has positioned himself in the draft's initial eight selections.
• The position drills have ended in Alabama and the 40s have been completed. Running back Mark Ingram's times ranged between 4.50 and 4.56, which is better than his fastest hand held time from the combine, 4.62.
• Twenty teams were on hand in Stillwater, Okla., for the Oklahoma State workout, part of which took place outdoors in windy, 38-degree weather. Running back Kendall Hunter timed 4.43 in the 40, slightly better than his best combine time of 4.46. It was a tremendous performance considering the weather. Hunter rested on his remaining marks from the combine but will take part in position drills during the remainder of the workout.
• There were several standout performances at the Kent State pro day.
Highly considered safety Brian Lainhart ran 4.55 in the 40, touched 37.5 inches in the vertical jump and completed 28 reps on the bench. Lainhart is considered a thinking man's defensive back, yet his marks today could push him into the late rounds.
Linebacker Corbani Mixon, who began his career at Michigan before transferring to Kent State, put on a show for linebackers. Potentially a weak-side linebacker in the NFL, Mixon clocked 4.65 in the 40, completed 39 reps on the bench and had a vertical jump of 35.5 inches. Scouts have always loved Mixon's potential and he's a prospect who has fallen under the radar screen.
There are four important pro days on today's schedule -- Alabama, Mississippi State, Wisconsin and California.
• Top-rated running back prospect Mark Ingram will be the one to watch in Tuscaloosa, as the former Heisman Trophy winner hopes to improve on the very average 40 time he turned in at the combine. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and offensive lineman James Carpenter are set to do position drills and will rest on most of their combine marks. Quarterback Greg McElroy, who cracked a bone in his hand during the Senior Bowl, recently had his cast removed yet won't work out for scouts. He is tentatively scheduled to throw April 5 if his rehabilitation continues at its present pace.
• In Berkeley, star defensive lineman Cameron Jordan is another who will rest on his fine combine marks and partake only in position drills.
• Some late results from Tuesday's pro days:
-- Fresno State junior receiver Jamel Hamler improved his 40 time from the combine by almost .05 seconds. Hamler was timed at 4.55 by scouts on Tuesday.
-- Eyebrows were raised when Northwestern linebacker Quentin Davie did not receive an invitation to the combine; he showed Tuesday why someone made a mistake.
The 6-foot-4 Davie, who tipped the scales at 232 pounds, posted 40 times as fast as 4.68 seconds and a vertical jump of 35 inches. The 40 time was faster than all but six linebackers who ran at the combine while the vertical jump was surpassed by just five in Indianapolis. Davie, who can be used at a variety of linebacker positions, has likely secured a spot for himself in the late rounds.
After his poor throwing performance at the combine, Cam Newton took to the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium today for what his quarterback coach George Whitfield Jr. referred to as the "true test" of the Heisman Trophy winner's passing skills. The bottom line on the workout -- it was a much needed improved performance from Newton.
The quarterback stood on all his combine numbers and waited almost four hours before starting his passing workout. For some reason, possibly stress, Newton looked tired to the point of exhaustion when he began the workout.
He threw an array of passes, taking all his snaps from underneath center Ryan Pugh. Newton showed better footwork as he threw the ball off three-, five- and seven-step drops.
Of the 60 scripted passes thrown by Newton, 11 were incomplete, including five catchable throws that were dropped by receivers.
His throws were crisp and he showed much better rhythm and timing, compared to his combine workout. The further down the field Newton threw the ball, the more on target his passes were. He also displayed nice touch on throws, softly placing the ball in the hands of intended targets when necessary. He had no problem firing the ball to receivers on the occasions he wanted to show off his arm strength.
Most of the passes that dropped to the ground were thrown too high, a consistent problem for him at the combine.
After completing his scripted workout, Newton remained on the field throwing passes, which the NFL coaches in attendance requested. All the teams that own top-12 picks and desperately need a quarterback had their general manager, head coach or both in attendance.
This does not compare to Sam Bradford's incredible pro day from a year ago, nor does it push Newton to the top of the quarterback list. What it did was show scouts the physically gifted junior is headed in the right direction.
Newton's defensive teammate Nick Fairley turned in another good performance. Just like in Indianapolis, Fairley looked incredibly athletic displaying great footwork and quickness. This was made all the more impressive by the fact the defensive lineman weighed in at 297 pounds, six heavier than he tipped the scales at the combine.
The Arkansas pro day is over and by all accounts quarterback Ryan Mallett turned in another terrific throwing workout.
As was the case at the combine, Mallett got into a good rhythm, displaying terrific accuracy and timing on all his throws. Mallett hit receivers in stride and rarely had pass catchers reaching backwards or going vertical to grab his throws. He also showcased his rifle arm throughout the workout.
Earlier in the day, Mallett ran the 40 in a pedestrian 5.37 seconds. Will that time hurt his draft stock? Probably not. Teams that require quarterbacks to roll outside the pocket and throw on the move are likely to frown upon it, but overall Mallett's passing skills have been impressive the past two weeks. Teams must now factor in Mallett's character questions with his awesome physical skills and come up with a final draft grade.
• Offensive linemen Ray Dominguez built upon his combine result and once again performed well for scouts. He improved on just about all his combine marks and looked terrific in position drills. Most project the Arkansas tackle to guard in the NFL and some teams presently grade him as a third-round pick.
• Another Razorbacks offensive line prospect, DeMarcus Love, didn't fare as well Tuesday. Love looked athletic on the field but struggled in his position drills. He lacked balance and overall coordination.
The belief is Love, who was graded as a potential first-round pick entering the year, now will be selected at least a round later than Dominguez.
Pro day at Oklahoma has finished as the draft eligible Sooners worked out for nearly two hours.
• Running back DeMarco Murray chose to stand on his combine numbers in the 40 (4.37) but did participate in position drills. Murray looked terrific in pass-catching drills and now moves towards April as a solid top 75 selection.
• The same cannot be said for Jeremy Beal. The Sooners' top pass rusher (28 sacks and 53.5 tackles for loss since his sophomore season) barely broke 5.20 seconds at the combine and looked slow again today. During position drills, Beal was sluggish, showed limited burst and poor footwork. Beal's measurables and poor athletic skills now pose a dilemma for teams. He measures 6-2½ and 262 pounds, which is too small for defensive end in a conventional four-man front, and he's too slow to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment. At one time considered a possible top 45 choice, expect Beal to drop to as late as the fourth round.
• The sleeper of the day was receiver Cameron Kenney, who caught 33 passes for the Sooners last season with an average of 16.4 yards per catch. He ran his 40 in 4.52 seconds then posted solid marks in the vertical jump (35.5 inches) broad jump (10-9) and 20-yard shuttle (4.09 seconds). Considered a free agent entering the day, he may now move into the late rounds.
With last week's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in the books, the next phase of talent evaluation for the 2011 NFL Draft kicks into high gear this week. Personnel from all 32 NFL teams, including scouts, coaches and general managers, are hitting the road to check out players as they conduct their pro-day workouts at their college campuses.
Today, all eyes will be on quarterback Cam Newton, who will try to improve upon his disappointing throwing workout at the combine. Newton completed only 11 of 21 passes in Indianapolis and some scouts said he displayed poor mechanics.
Also today, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, will again throw for scouts (while likely running a 40 too), with hopes of wowing NFL personnel with his arm strength and accuracy -- just like he did at the Indy combine. And in Norman, Okla., a dozen Sooners will try to impress NFL teams at their workouts.
Also on this week's pro-day docket: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Oregon State and Arizona.