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2013 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH: PRO DAYS WEEK 1 RECAP

The pre-draft process for NFL prospects continues as the pro day portion began this month and will continue into April with individual workouts for those unable to get on the field at their school’s designated pro day. A number of prospects will have the pressure on them, especially those like Jarvis Jones that skipped the drills at the Combine to opt for optimal conditions at their pro day and those that were held out of workouts in Indy because of injury like Star Lotulelei. Of course there are others that didn’t perform the way they wanted to at the Combine and will be looking to improve on their numbers. The make-or-break season for prospects is just heating up as the 2013 NFL Draft nears closer with each passing day.

MARCH 1: Purdue

The Boilermakers Pro Day kicked off the month, but potential first-round pick DT Kawann Short did not take part due to the same hamstring injury that kept him out of drills at the Combine. Scouts will now have to wait until March 25 to see the highly-rated defensive tackle work out at his own personal pro day. Purdue CB Josh Johnson improved on some of his Combine numbers including a drop in his 40 time from 4.65 to 4.55 and raising his vertical jump to 36” and broad jump to 9’11”. He also looked good while running through positional drills. QB Robert Marve put on a good performance particularly showing off a strong arm and posting 22 reps of 225lbs. on the bench press which would have topped all quarterbacks at the Combine had he been invited. Marve’s performance won’t get him drafted, but probably earned him an invite to training camp with hopes of landing on a practice roster.

MARCH 4: Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Northern Iowa

Arkansas Pine-Bluff OT Terron Armstead continued his impressive climb up draft boards with another fantastic workout at his Pro Day. He decided to stand by his excellent Combine numbers that were among the best in the offensive line class and instead ran through an hour-long workout made up of various offensive line drills. Of note, Armstead was led through the drills by new San Diego Chargers offensive line coach Joe D’Allesandris. The Chargers have multiple holes across their offensive line and could be highly interested in the athletic tackle. Armstead looks like a sure-fire Day 2 selection. While Armstead had representatives from 12 teams out to watch him, Northern Iowa WR/KR Terrell Sinkfield grabbed the headlines by running a 4.19 40-yard dash. He posted 43 catches for 499 yards and 4 touchdowns this past season, but has a couple off the field red flags including an arrest for disorderly conduct in October. While his 40 time caught some attention, most scouts have said he doesn’t play that fast on film.

MARCH 5: Auburn, Missouri Southern

Auburn DE/OLB Corey Lemonier stood by his Combine numbers with the exception of the vertical jump which he improved to 34”. He ran through positional drills led by Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler. The Steelers happen to be in the market for a couple of linebackers. Some scouts apparently came away unimpressed by Lemonier’s workout. RB Onterio McCalebb, who had an impressive Combine performance, took it up a notch by improving his 40 time to 4.33 seconds, his vert jump to 37” and his broad jump to 10’11”. He also improved his times in the short shuffle (4.31s) and the 3-cone drill (7.01s) along with posting 10 reps on the bench press. McCaleb is a Day 3 selection that is probably best suited to be a return specialist, but could earn his way into a third-down back situation. There was disappointment at the Missouri Southern Pro day as unfavorable weather conditions prevented DT Brandon Williams from working out in positional drills, although had the weather cooperated he still would’ve remained on the sidelines due to a slight hamstring pull. He will stand by his Combine performance and should come off the board on Day 2.

MARCH 6: Wisconsin, Mississippi State, Texas Tech

There were reps from 28 teams at the Wisconsin pro day, most of which were there to see RB Montee Ball and offensive linemen Travis Frederick and Ricky Wagner. Ball had a great workout improving his times in the 40, short shuttle and 60-yard shuttle. Most notable was his time in the 40 which he dropped from 4.66s at the Combine to 4.49s, which just might have secured him a spot as the second running back off the board following Alabama’s Eddie Lacy and a spot on Day 2 of the draft. He also looked very good in positional drills. Frederick and Wagner both stood by their Combine numbers, but worked out in positional drills under Miami Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner. The most notable team rep at the workout was Packers G.M. Ted Thompson, who is in the market for a new running back and a couple of offensive linemen and appeared to have liked what he saw for the most part. Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks was one of the major disappointments at the Combine and saw his stock drop by about a round following a very unimpressive workout. He may have stopped the bleeding with his performance at the Bulldogs Pro day as he improved his numbers in the 40, short shuttle, vertical jump and the broad jump, although is 40 time of 4.58 was just slightly better than his disappointing 4.61 at the Combine. However, he did look a lot better running through positional drills this time out. The Patriots reps were said to be very interested in Banks. Fellow corner Darius Slay, who posted the fastest 40 time among defensive backs at the Combine with a 4.36 was unable to compete in positional drills for scouts after pulling a muscle trying to improve his time in the 60-yard shuttle. DT Josh Boyd looked very good running through defensive lineman drills with New York Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn. 28 teams were represented at the Mississippi State pro day including Denver Broncos DC Jack Del Rio and New Orleans Saints defensive back coach Wesley McGriff. Texas Tech safety Cody Davis put together a fantastic pro day including a 4.41 in the 40 and probably worked his way into the late round mix.

MARCH 7: Arizona, Clemson, Illinois, Mississippi

Under the radar quarterback Matt Scott looked fantastic throwing the ball at the Arizona pro day while reps from 18 NFL teams watched, including the entire Arizona Cardinals offensive coaching staff. He’s a Day 3 selection that could be a perfect fit for a read-option team. The Eagles were also said to be interested in Scott. Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins looked great in wide receiver drills at the Tigers pro day, along with improving his 40 time to 4.51s from 4.57s. He’ll remain in the second round mix. RB Andre Ellington pulled a hamstring at the Combine and will work out again for scouts on March 29. The Ole Miss pro day featured perhaps the largest prospect in the draft in OT Terrell Brown, who measured in at 6’10” and 388lbs with 38” long arms and a 92 3/8” wingspan. Brown put up pretty good numbers in drills for a man of his mammoth size. While Illinois had four mid-round prospects that drew reps from 27 teams to their pro day, it was little-known DE Glenn Foster that was the star of the day recording impressive times in the 40, short shuttle and 3-cone drill, along with numbers in the vertical and broad jumps that would have topped all defensive linemen at the Combine. He was also good in positional drills and his performance has sent scouts scrambling back to the film room. He definitely gets drafted now.

MARCH 8: Texas A&M, Ohio State, Florida International

Texas A&M put on one of the more notable pro days of the year as prospects like Luke Joeckel, Damontre Moore, Sean Porter and Christine Michael among others were on the field for reps from 28 teams on hand including New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan and Oakland Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen. Joeckel chose to stand by his Combine numbers and opted to run through positional drills led by new Oakland Raiders offensive line coach Tony Sparano for about an hour. The Chiefs and Raiders both met with Joeckel privately. Moore was another of the big Combine disappointments that dropped his stock from the top of the first round to the bottom of it. He was solid on Friday working out both as a defensive end and linebacker and improved his time in the short shuttle and increased his reps in the bench press from 12 to 19, while he also added another 10lbs. to his frame, however he put an end to his workout early due to a bothersome hamstring and probably didn’t really help himself. LB Sean Porter, LB Jonathan Stewart and WR Ryan Swope put in impressive workouts. There were 27 teams represented at the at the Ohio State pro day, most of which to watch potential first round pick Johnathan Hankins. Unfortunately Hankins chose to take part in a just a few select drills and didn’t really do anything to help or hurt his draft stock and probably remains a late first-rounder. No one else at the Buckeyes pro day stood out. Florida International FS John Cyprien competed in all drills except for the vertical jump and recorded a 4.64s in the 40, 4.44s in the short shuttle and a 7.01s in the 3-cone drill, along with a 9’11” broad jump and 18 reps of 225lbs. on the bench press. He was also very good in defensive backs drills.

Written By: Mark Scott

 



2013 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH: BOWL GAMES PART 1 (DEC.15-DEC.22)

Another college football regular season is in the books giving way to bowl season and the next step in the draft process for eligible prospects.  For many prospects this could be their last chance until the NFL Scouting Combine to show off their talent to scouts and NFL front offices. The first set of bowl games doesn’t feature too many prospects, but there are a few notable players worth taking a look at like BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah, Desmond Trufant of Washington and Boise State’s Jamar Taylor.

GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL, DECEMBER 15/2012

Nevada Wolf Pack (7-5) vs. Arizona Wildcats (7-5)

An offensive explosion is expected in the first bowl game of the postseason between Nevada and Arizona, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that four of the top five prospects featured in this game are offensive players. The Wildcats are led by 2012 All-Pac-12 Second-Team QB Matt Scott (rSr), who really emerged as a legit talent this season under new Head Coach Rich Rodriguez putting up impressive stats with both his arm and his legs. Scott is an athletic quarterback with a live arm and excellent mobility that is at his best when rolling out and forcing defenses to account for his legs leaving receivers open downfield. Scott isn’t among the top ten quarterbacks in the draft class, but still could be a fourth or fifth-round pick.  One of Scott’s top targets, WR Dan Buckner (rSr) will also be in the 2013 NFL Draft. Buckner is a big wideout with good speed, but comes with off-the-field baggage that led to his transfer from Texas and wasn’t nearly as productive when he was on the field as expected for such a highly-touted former high school recruit. He’s a late-round project worth the risk.  Nevada has its own playmakers on offense led by RB Stefphon Jefferson (Jr) and TE Zach Sudfeld (rSr). While Jefferson rushed for an impressive 1703 yards (5.0 YPC) and 22 touchdowns this season, he finds himself currently ranked outside the top 15 running backs and with a year of eligibility left he will probably return to Nevada for another season. If he does enter the draft, look for him to be selected somewhere on Day 3. Sudfeld will also be a Day 3 selection. An impressive athlete at the tight end position, Sudfeld missed all of 2011 but returned to action this season as an impact player for the Wolf Pack. At 6’7”, 255lbs he will draw comparisons to New England’s Rob Gronkowski and could be a late-round steal.  On defense, Nevada is led by their top prospect SS Duke Williams (Sr). He certainly passes the eye test and could be a guy who lights it up at the Combine with his combination of size, strength and speed. On the field, he’s a big hitter with the versatility to line up anywhere in the back four. He will give the Wolf Pack another Day 3 selection to talk about.

FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL, DECEMBER 15/2012

Toledo Rockets (9-3) vs. Utah State Aggies (10-2)

A battle between two of the better non-BCS teams in the nation in Toledo and Utah State will feature a trio of Day 3 prospects. Utah State CB Will Davis (Sr) is a talented corner that really came on late this season with an interception in each of his final five contests including taking one back for a touchdown in the season finale against Idaho. He’s a solid athlete with good size and possesses shut down ability, but has played against pretty weak competition in his collegiate career. He’s a fourth or fifth-round pick, although SI’s Tony Pauline has him rated as a potential first round selection. Aggies’ RB Kerwynn Williams (Sr) is a smaller, multi-purpose back that has the speed to get yards on the outside or catching passes out of the backfield. After contributing as a backup the last couple of seasons, Williams exploded this year after entering the starting lineup amassing 1277 yards rushing, 663 receiving yards and 17 total touchdowns. He projects as a third down back in the NFL and probably comes off the board in the fifth round.  Toledo’s top prospect is RB David Fluellen (Jr), a good-sized back with speed and quick feet that displays good vision. I expect him to be carrying the ball for the Rockets for another season as he appears to be way off the radar among scouts despite rushing for 1460 yards and 13 touchdowns. He could be a guy to watch in the 2014 draft otherwise he could be Day 3 selection in April. After Fluellen the only other prospect for Toledo is ILB Dan Molls (Sr), a likely undrafted free agent.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA BOWL, DECEMBER 20/2012

Brigham Young Cougars (7-5) vs. San Diego Aztecs (9-3)

The BYU/San Diego State game will be one of the better bowls to watch for prospects in the first week with a pair of draft eligible players on each team. Cougars’ DE Ezekiel Ansah (Sr) is not only the most impressive prospect to watch of the first week, but one of most in the entire draft. A raw, but incredible athlete, Ansah only began playing football just two years ago after coming to BYU from Ghana on a track and field scholarship. At 6’6”, 270lbs. and off-the-chains athleticism, the sky is the limit for Ansah, who has picked up the sport at an incredible pace in becoming one of the most talked about prospects and one of the most feared pass-rushers in the nation. He has the ability to line up and create a pass rush with either his hand on the ground or standing up and should be able to be used in any defensive scheme. Coaches and scouts will savor over the opportunity to add Ansah to their roster, but will have to make a move early as most expect him to be a mid-first round pick in April. Joining Ansah in the 2013 NFL Draft could be teammate WR Cody Hoffman (Jr), a big wide receiver with good hands and the ability to separate from defenders using his size and speed. He put together a very productive campaign with 1134 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s a bit low on draft boards as a fifth round pick and I expect he will choose to return to school for another year and try to improve his draft stock with another great season. Versatile shut down defender, LB Kyle Van Noy (Jr) is another noteworthy candidate on BYU to come out early for the draft and could be a mid-round pick, but like Hoffman should be back at BYU for another year. For San Diego State, CB Leon McFadden (Sr) and TE Gavin Escobar (rJr) could represent the Aztecs at the draft in April. McFadden will be there for sure and could be selected as high as the third round. He has good size and possesses the ball skills and cover ability to shut down opposing receivers. He’s a versatile player that can be used in man or zone and can contribute against the run as well. Escobar is a player that has scouts buzzing and as a result he’s risen up draft boards and could now decide to enter the draft early while his name is hot. He’s another great athlete with size and mobility at the tight end position with the ability to catch the football. He’s a decent blocker as well for a predominantly pass-catching tight end. He has the looks of a potential Day 2 selection. QB Ryan Katz (rSr) will probably go undrafted and look to catch on with a team’s practice squad following the draft.

BEEF ‘O’ BRADY’S BOWL ST. PETERSBURG, DECEMBER 21/2012

Ball State Cardinals (9-3) vs. Central Florida Knights (9-4)

No one really worth talking about in regards to the draft playing in this matchup. For the hardcores, Central Florida FS Kemal Ishmael (Sr) and OG Theo Goins (rSr) will most likely be undrafted free agents.

R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL, DECEMBER 22/2012

East Carolina Pirates (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (8-4)

The Rajin’ Cajuns feature the only prospect of note in this one in CB Melvin White (rSr). He possesses fantastic size at 6’3”, 191lbs. and plays a tough, physical game. He’s all over draft boards right now ranging anywhere from a seventh round pick to as high as the third round.

MAACO BOWL LAS VEGAS, DECEMBER 22/2012

Washington Huskies (7-5) vs. Boise State Broncos (10-2)

The best game of the first week of bowls is between Washington and Boise State and it will showcase a pair of very good cornerbacks. Huskies’ CB Desmond Trufant (Sr) has been one of the Pac-12’s best cornerbacks since stepping on to the field and starting nine games as a freshman. He’s been a stalwart for Washington’s defense the past four seasons and has only gotten better every year. The younger brother of Marcus and Isaiah Trufant, the NFL has been in Desmond’s future for a long time. He’s a true shutdown corner with some of the best cover skills and instincts in the draft class and has #1 cornerback potential. He’ll be a second round pick in April. On the other sideline is an impressive shutdown corner in his own right in Boise State CB Jamar Taylor (rSr), who saw his talent really take off this year with a MWC Defensive Player of the Year-worthy season. He’s a hard-nosed player that doesn’t back down in coverage and is a willing tackler in run support. He’ll likely come off the board in the third round.  The Broncos also have a pair of prospects with late round potential in RB D.J. Harper (rSr) and CB Jerell Gavins (rSr).

Written By: Mark Scott