Draft Misc - Football Wiretap
Senior Bowl: Win, Lose Or Draw
The primary function for the players this week was to improve their draft stock. Some did, some did not, and some went the other direction. Winners: Mike Iupati -- the Idaho guard was far and away the best offensive linemen in Mobile. He proved that not only could he handle the jump up in competition, but he could dominate at that level. Iupati has an exceedingly rare blend of power, quickness, and attitude. He solidified himself as a first round pick, perhaps lofting himself into the 8-15 overall range. Dexter McCluster -- NFL evaluators weren't quite sure what to make of the diminutive Mississippi player heading here; was he a running back, a wideout, or just a return specialist? McCluster put on a display of incredible agility and vision, performing very well in all phases. Now teams see him as a more elusive Percy Harvin, a utility knife that can get 10 carries a game, five receptions, take Wildcat snaps, and return punts -- all at a high level. Brandon Graham -- the Michigan defensive end proved to everyone else what those of us who have watched him closely for awhile already knew: he's a major disruptive force off the edge with great quickness and power. His performance downplayed the concerns about his lack of height, drawing comparisons to Trent Cole and Robert Mathis. Solidly in the top 20, but I've been telling you that since September... Andre Roberts -- when you come here from a non D-I program like Roberts, who went to The Citadel, expectations are generally lower. Roberts threw that in the face of doubters, showing great burst, good feet, and a swagger that comes from knowing he can catch anything near him. His smallish size limits his draft ceiling to probably the middle of the 2nd round, but before Mobile it was likely two rounds lower. Jacoby Ford -- clearly established himself as the top slot receiver prospect with his sudden speed and flytrap hands. The telling moment came when the North team ran a reverse in drills. Ford took the handoff at full speed and turned it up the field with balance and real burst. The very next rep Mardy Gilyard took his spot, slowed way down to get the ball and then ran horizontally before awkwardly cutting back. The torch was passed right there. The offensive tackles that weren't in Mobile -- some are underclassmen (Bruce Campbell, Anthony Davis, Bryan Bulaga) who weren't eligible to play here, but the lackluster (I'm being very kind here) performance of the senior tackles that were in Mobile makes those who skipped the Senior Bowl look much more attractive. Russell Okung, Trent Williams, and even the Shrine Game big winner Rodger Saffold all saw their stocks markedly arrow up without having to do anything. There were no tackles here (aside from Iupati, who might be able to make the move) that merit selection before the top of the fourth round. LeGarrette Blount -- it was a bit of a coup by his agent just to get him in the Senior Bowl, and Blount did a fine job of rebuilding his draft stock. He looks very good on the field, showing good agility for his large, muscular frame and attacking the hole with nice burst. Just as importantly, he appears to have put the ugly incident that led to his suspension behind him, both in his own mind and the minds of talent evaluators. He'll still be docked for it, but Blount gets high marks for damage control. Perrish Cox -- the Oklahoma State product had some shaky performances in positional drills, but he was the star of the South team 11-on-11 drills. He's one of those corners that just finds the ball innately, and his confidence and instincts are both top notch. Much like Dre Bly, he's not for everyone, but for certain teams he's a great fit and will be drafted as such. Bonus points for his elite return man potential. Losers: Mardy Gilyard -- "loser" is the wrong word to use with Gilyard, who is as mentally tough as they come and exudes positive leadership. But his hands were unreliable (again, being charitable) and his footwork wasn't sharp. When paired with his rail-thin build, I just don't see any way he is a top 50 pick, and if he would have had a good week he likely would have solidified himself as a late-first rounder. The North team QBs -- They were overshadowed by Tebowpalooza all week, but they didn't exactly help themselves with shaky performances. Tony Pike was the best of the lot, but he has alarming tendencies to miss high and not see linebackers in coverage. For every "wow" moment -- and he had a few -- he consistently left scouts wanting more. Sean Canfield struggled to overcome a dismal Monday, and his arm strength and longer-range accuracy are both not NFL caliber. Dan Lefevour fits more in the "draw" category, but he did little to swing evaluators who already had opinions on him to the other side of the fence. Patrick Robinson -- ACC teams almost never challenged the Florida State corner, but based on his performance in Mobile perhaps they should have. His footwork needs a lot of work -- the aforementioned Roberts got him to fall down twice -- and he had real trouble locating the ball. My signature moment of Robinson came early in the week when in a passing skeleton drill he missed his initial jam on Riley Cooper, then put his head down and blindly chased after him. Cooper made a nice cut, the ball went right inside and behind Robinson, who tumbled trying to both stop and turn at the same time. He showed he can make some plays but he is not the first round lock he was assumed to be this time last week. Vlad Ducasse -- again the term "loser" is too harsh for Ducasse, but it's hard to not be negative when a player with his sort of unknown status and huge scouting buzz comes to Mobile and performs like Ducasse. The UMass offensive linemen was touted as being a great athlete for his size and ready to play tackle in the NFL. Neither proved valid, as he struggled with agility and football coordination. He should develop into a pretty good guard, but we learned two things about him in Mobile -- no way he's a tackle and he's at least a year away from handling the speed of the NFL game even at guard. Some mock drafts had him as high as the late first round, but I doubt you see him in anyone's first two rounds anymore. Taylor Mays -- another player that confirmed my somewhat isolated September position was the USC safety. There is no denying his physical prowess -- he has the body every guy wants and every girl dreams her man would have -- but it seems more and more people are seeing his very real flaws on the field. Mays proved he lacks any sort of instincts in pass coverage and lacks lateral agility. I'll paraphrase an NFL head coach I spoke with after South practice one day, 'How come he's not playing linebacker?' Good question, because his stock as a safety is no longer first-round status. I wouldn't touch him before the fourth, and I am no longer alone in that assessment. The Texas Longhorns -- only two Longhorns were in Mobile, and neither linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy nor defensive tackle Lamarr Houston helped themselves. Muckelroy is undersized and plays so, and he struggled both in coverage and at getting through traffic to the ball. Houston came to Mobile with first-round potential, but he was consistently overpowered and exhibited sloppy technique. Houston did have some good moments but he is not the impact player teams want in the first round. Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy is also in this draft, and the scouts here I talked with regarding him were not kind. Trevard Lindley and Sam Young -- the Kentucky cornerback and Notre Dame offensive tackle both struggled badly in both positional drills and 11-on-11 action. For two players that both populated many preseason first round mock drafts, I wouldn't be surprised if both now go undrafted. Lindley's inability to cover anyone at all was stunning, and Young plays too high and slow to ever be more than a backup, if that. Draw: Tim Tebow -- he showed steady improvement as the week progressed, but the flaws in his fundamental quarterback skills are very evident and need lots of work. His delivery needs a complete overhaul and he needs to learn to read the field quicker. But I also witnessed why Florida fans worship him. He's a charismatic, enthusiastic natural leader, and his teammates quickly rallied around him -- including several Bama players here, much to the chagrin of the sizable Tide fan presence. He outshined the other South quarterbacks in two-minute drills and flashed great arm strength all week. He's certainly not a first rounder and is probably at least two full seasons on the bench away from being a starting NFL quarterback, but the Tebow magic is not without some basis. Sean Weatherspoon -- the Mizzou linebacker won the Louis Delmas Honorary Award as most talkative player in Mobile. He also consistently impressed in agility drills and showing great closing speed to the ball. However, he needs that great speed because he's often slow to diagnose the play and frequently gets sucked in too early. But we all knew that already, which is why his week is a draw. Stafon Johnson -- you probably recognize his name more for the freakish weightlifting injury that nearly killed him than his work at running back for the Trojans. Johnson looked physically fine and fully recovered, and got himself back on team's draft radar. But he did little to distinguish himself on the field, showing major trouble catching the ball and lacking the speed and burst of most other backs. Anthony Dixon -- Dixon had an impressive week, so you might ask why the Mississippi State back rates just a "draw." The problem is that a lot of scouts here can't decide if he's a speedy fullback or a big running back. There is little debate he'll be good at either one, but being somewhat ambiguous waters down draft stock, particularly as the fullback positions devolves into further insignificance. Stanford's Toby Gerhart (who was not here) has the same problem, though Dixon is a better prospect. -- Jeff.Risdon@RealGM.com
Riley Cooper Opts For NFL Over MLB
Florida wide receiver Riley Cooper is entering the NFL Draft. Cooper, a 25th-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers, said Monday that he has decided to focus on a pro football career over baseball. "Football's definitely the route I want to take," Cooper said. "Toward the last couple of weeks of the football season, I knew that's what I wanted to do. That's my makeup, my mentality. I'm just a football player, not a baseball player."
Tebow Says He'll Be Himself For Scouts
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow insists that he'll be himself for scouts as the NFL Draft approaches. "Coach Meyer called me last night and he said, 'Promise me one thing: Just be you and you'll be fine,' " Tebow said Sunday as he prepares for the Senior Bowl. "I'm just going to be me. I'm going to be excited, I'm going to be passionate, I'm going to have fun," Tebow said. "I'm going to love playing the game out there, just like I always have. Hopefully the coaching staffs and the owners and general managers will just like me." He's been adamant about the fact that he doesn't want to change positions in the NFL. "I'm here to be an NFL quarterback," Tebow said.
Draft Early Entries Tie NFL Mark
Fewer non-seniors applied for this April's NFL Draft than expected, but the list of early entry candidates still tied a record. A record-tying 53 players declared for early entry. "I think that the colleges have really done a good job of telling these young men how it is to their advantage to stay in school," said NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt. "I thought there would be more and I was surprised." Looming labor unrest in the league led many to believe that a host of players would enter the draft pool early. The 53 players match the previous high in 2008; last year, 46 declared.
Top 103 NFL Draft Prospects Of 2010, V. 3.0
Declaration Day for draft-eligible underclassmen has passed, so we now know the depths of the draft pool. Some surprises in each direction makes for some fairly significant modifications from the last edition. I've also been fortunate to watch more game film of FCS and non-marquee FBS schools, giving me a better idea of the talent from those programs. I will do another revision after Senior Bowl week, which I've found is a lot more significant than the combine in terms of evaluating tangible football skills and competitive fire. Obviously not every player is there, but it's the extended look at guys doing football things with NFL coaching that really shows the positives and negatives of the participants. I'll be posting daily updates from Mobile. 1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska -- Dominating physical force up front that is ready to be a featured star from Day One. Needs a little work on beating bigger guards and tackles. 2. Eric Berry, DB, Tennessee -- Play-making safety coming from an NFL-style defense, but some scouts think he projects even better as a corner. 3. Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State -- No position has a bigger gap between #1 and #2 than wide receiver and Bryant could be an instant star. 4. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma -- The Warren Sapp comparisons are legit, as McCoy has exceptional quickness and agility for a large man. 5. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson -- He has the deadly combination of being both exceptionally fast and exceptionally quick, two skills that seldom blend as well as they do in Spiller. 6. Joe Haden, CB, Florida -- Great size and speed, but it's his instincts and competitiveness that set him apart. 7. Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech -- His tremendous production is a by-product of a barrage of moves and skills, not just speed. 8. Mike Iupati, G, Idaho -- Agile mauler with textbook feet and hand technique, best guard prospect in years. 9. Anthony Davis, T, Rutgers -- All the questions on Davis center on his fire and drive, because athletically he's as gifted as any player in the draft for their respective positions. 10. Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida -- Dynamic edge rusher with DeMarcus Ware-type physical skills. He must douse the flames of his DUI and questions about his maturity. 11. Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama 12. Russell Okung, T, Oklahoma State 13. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame 14. Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan 15. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma -- Great accuracy and mobility, but he must prove his shoulder is healthy and that he can handle a pass rush, both big questions at this point. 16. Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas 17. Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida 18. Bruce Campbell, T, Maryland -- A little hot and cold, and his cold is icy, but the tools are all in the box, if he can stay healthy. 19. Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech 20. Corey Wootton, DE, Northwestern 21. Earl Thomas, S, Texas -- Biggest question is his size, but he exemplifies all the successful traits of a great safety 22. Jon Asamoah, G, Illinois 23. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona 24. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida -- His ceiling as a pass rusher is higher than any in this class, but he's also the greenest of the lot. 25. Trent Williams, T, Oklahoma 26. Chad Jones, S, LSU 27. Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State 28. Arthur Jones, DT, Syracuse 29. Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama -- Not as fast as Shaun Rogers but has similar interior dominance potential with his beef and brawn. 30. Nate Allen, S, South Florida 31. Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State 32. Ricky Sapp, OLB, Clemson -- Undersized end must show he can handle playing in space and get off blockers, but his chase skills are special. 33. Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois 34. Brian Price, DT, UCLA 35. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida 36. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas 37. Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri -- Great range and strength, dogged by questions about getting off blocks and a poor supporting cast. 38. Taylor Mays, S, USC 39. Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State -- Great athlete must curb his tendency to appear disinterested in the game. 40. Navorro Bowman, LB, Penn State 41. O'Brien Schofield, LB, Wisconsin -- Very upwardly mobile if he proves in workouts his on-field quickness and speed is legit. 42. Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU 43. Perrish Cox, CB/RS, Oklahoma State 44. Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame 45. Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida 46. Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan -- Watch his stock rise as more film study reveals how well this surprise entrant played with little around him. 47. Morgan Burnett, S, Georgia Tech 48. Kyle Calloway, T, Iowa 49. Mardy Gilyard, WR/KR, Cincinnati 50. Perrish Cox, CB/RS, Oklahoma State -- Has elite return man skills that elevate his stock, but he's an aggressive pest in coverage too. 51. Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee 52. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida 53. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma 54. Javier Arenas, CB, Alabama -- Others have better measurables, but Arenas exudes the "it" factor that often portends NFL greatness. 55. Jermaine Cunningham, LB, Florida 56. Jahvid Best, RB, California 57. Vladimir Ducasse, G, UMass 58. Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina 59. Jeremy Williams, WR, Tulane 60. Bryan Bulaga, T, Iowa -- A power-style tackle without great strength, one of which will have to change quickly. 61. Daryl Washington, LB, TCU 62. Eric Decker, WR, Minnesota -- Injury cut short a promising season where he was proving his draft detractors wrong. 63. Jerome Murphy, CB, South Florida 64. Jared Veldheer, T, Hillsdale -- Small-school stud is very similar to Sebastian Vollmer from last year. 65. Dekoda Watson, LB, Florida State 66. Thaddeus Gibson, LB/DE, Ohio State 67. D'Anthony Smith, DT, Louisiana Tech 68. Dan Lefevour, QB, Central Michigan 69. Sean Lee, LB, Penn State 70. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech 71. Dexter McCluster, RB, Ole Miss -- Great versatility from this mighty mite, but 160 pounds soaking wet is a tough sell. 72. Jerry Hughes, OLB, TCU 73. Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas 74. Charles Brown, T, USC -- Needs to show more snarl and tenacity to move up. 75. Myron Lewis, CB, Vanderbilt 76. Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma 77. Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati -- Mentally tough gunslinger, but has major transition ahead of him and must polish his release. 78. Roddrick Muckelroy, LB, Texas 79. Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State 80. Joe McKnight, RB, USC 81. Tyson Alualu, DT, California -- Projects best as a 3-4 LDE, must show he can hold point of attack. 82. Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers 83. Everson Griffen, LB/DE, USC -- Bears a striking similarity to Vernon Gholston but the measurables are too good to ignore. Read: he's a Raider two rounds earlier than anyone thinks. 84. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford 85. Amari Speivey, CB, Iowa -- Very upwardly mobile. 86. Jason Worilds, DE/LB, Virginia Tech 87. Lamar Houston, DT, Texas 88. Syd'Quan Thompson, CB, California 89. Taylor Price, WR, Ohio U.-- Lightning-fast Bobcat is a poor man's Jeremy Maclin. 90. Anthony Dixon, RB, Mississippi State 91. Matt Tennant, C, Boston College 92. Jevan Snead, QB, Ole Miss -- Must prove the promise of his 2008 is still there after a major regression in 2009. 93. Danario Alexander, WR, Missouri 94. Mike Johnson, G, Alabama 95. Damian Williams, WR, USC -- Gets docked for all the prior USC WR flops, and he's got perhaps the slowest game speed of the lot. 96. Austen Lane, DE, Murray State 97. Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson 98. Tony Moeaki, TE, Iowa -- Would be much higher if his injury file wasn't so thick. 99. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon 100. Robert Johnson, S, Utah 101. Chris Hall, C, Texas 102. Lindsey Witten, DE, UConn 103. Antonio Brown, WR, Central Michigan -- Slippery underneath possession receiver with return capability. Jason Fox, Greg Hardy, Devin Ross, Brandon Ghee, Selvish Capers, Hall Davis, T.J. Ward, Darrell Stuckey, Brandon Lang, Sean Canfield, George Selvie, Kam Chancellor, Devin Ross, Riley Cooper, and Colin Peek all have valid arguments for inclusion. -- Jeff.Risdon@RealGM.com
Jahvid Best To Enter NFL Draft
California running back Jahvid Best will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft, sources say. Best was considered one of the top prospects at running back when he suffered a severe concussion and back injury after landing hard at the end of a touchdown run Nov. 7 against Oregon State.