Tuesday, March 2, 2010

NFL Combine: Monday Workout Notes

-- The largest single group, by position, were defensive linemen as a total of 66 were invited to this year's NFL Combine... Jay Hayes ran the on-field drills portion of the defensive line... he is the DL coach for the Cincinnati Bengals.

-- South Florida junior defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul impressed a number of his fellow defensive linemen as the pass rushing sensation did an unbelievable 13 consecutive back-flips following the end of their on-field workouts on Monday... remember this is a 265-pound defensive lineman... he was raw during parts of the on-field drills but he is such an exciting pass rusher that some of his technique and limited experience issues will get over-shadowed by his raw athleticism and potential... others that impressed included Ohio State junior defensive end/outside linebacker Thaddeus Gibson had a very solid all-around performance... he ran 4.7 range in the 40-yard dash... during the linebacker drills he was better in coverage than expected... so he might be Top-3 rated DE/OLB guy... TCU defensive end/outside linebacker Jerry Hughes showed better straight-line speed than expected, but a little stiff in some of linebacker drills... he looks the part of a hybrid and could likely play either RDE in 4-3 as a situational pass rusher or OLB in a 3-4 set.

-- Watching Oklahoma junior defensive tackle Gerald McCoy... he seemed a little nervous or anxious in certain portions of the workout... he scratched on his initial 3-cone drill and was very sloppy with his technique in that drill... he also stated that he interviewed with a wide variety of teams including Detroit, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Miami, Buffalo, Cleveland, Philadelphia and San Francisco... he's a little raw at times, but his penetrating, up-field style can jump out at you on game film... a few scouts said they are most excited by him as a 3-technique in a 4-3 more than when he bumps out to 5-technique in a 3-4... he drew some comparisons to Warren Sapp in terms of his personality.

-- Meanwhile, Nebraska senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh looked very fresh, confident and prepared and had his feet underneath him better during the on-field drills... he was solid across the board... love the explosiveness that comes out of his initial moves, but also showed a little better quickness and flash in terms of his pass rush and counter moves... what you get from Suh is the factor that he will also eat up space and create 1-on-1 match-ups for other defensive players in the front seven he plays on... so while McCoy might be seen as a better up-field presence you can create increased pressure by having Suh and his DT partner taking up three blockers at a time thus allowing for 1-on-1 situations for the DE's or allowing a linebacker to make the play behind the line of scrimmage.

-- The second tier of defensive tackles seemed to start taking shape as past Suh and McCoy there is a very solid core group of prospects that includes Penn State's Jared Odrick, UCLA's Brian Price, Tennessee's Dan Williams... of that group... Odrick is versatile, can play DT in 4-3 or DE in 3-4... Price has a quick first step, but did not run as well as expected and looked a little too heavy, which he likely did to impress or show scouts he could carry the added weight... Williams to me was the best of this group and there will also be a higher grade of prospects available in rounds four through seven than in the past few years... LSU's Al Woods, Arizona's Earl Mitchell, North Carolina's Cam Thomas, Georgia's Jeff Owens, Kentucky's Corey Peters and East Carolina's Linval Joseph are all guys that if they are taken in those mid-to-late rounds have the ability to become valuable interior linemen if properly rotated as rookies.

-- Remember this name... LSU senior defensive tackle Al Woods... he had 36" arms, 11" hands... hit 37" on the vertical... to put that in perspective the best vertical for all the wide receivers was 41.5" and this is a future NFL nose tackle... as of Monday morning he had done 13 interviews...

-- Interesting note that came about from this week's combine is that Arkansas defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard has a bit of a blurry spot in his vision after recovering from a childhood accident that cost him to lose some of his vision in his left eye... Sheppard was actually hit with a bow-and-arrow and surgery first saved and then corrected most of his vision problems, but he still has a slight haze which teams will consider when comparing him to others... he's expected to go mid-to-late rounds.

-- Penn State linebacker Sean Lee has drawn some comparisons to former NFL linebacker Dan Morgan. both for his size, style of play and potential, but also because of the possible durability issues... on tape Lee has shown 1st-2nd round talent, although past knee injuries have created a bit of a red-flag on him so there is general concern about how long of a career he will have and if his knees can hold-up from the stress of being an every-down middle linebacker.

-- TCU linebacker Daryl Washington proved to all that he is one of the most athletic prospects at his position, but in-spite of the talk he could be moved to inside or even middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme there are still some evaluators that feel by putting too much responsibility on his shoulders; making the play calls or having to read more from the inside spot than just reacting to the play/ball if stationed at weak-side linebacker that it could hamper his ability to make plays... they are also not sure if he is the quickest player on the field to diagnose things and having him realigning or calling defensive audibles might not be one of his best assets.

- Information from The NFL Draft Bible and other reporters was used in this report. The NFLDraftBible.com is the preeminent source of NFL Draft Information.

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