Tag:senior bowl
Posted on: November 8, 2011 6:27 pm

NFLPA to offer new all-star game open to juniors

According to an official press release, the NFL Players Association has teamed with AstroTurf to present a new collegiate all-star game.

The AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will take place at the Home Depot Center on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, California. The game is scheduled for January 21 -- the same week as the East-West Shrine Game, which used to be held in San Francisco, but now takes place in St. Petersburg, Florida and a week prior to the Senior Bowl. As with most all-star games, players will be brought in the previous Sunday for a full week of practice (and evaluation from scouts) prior to the game, itself.

Tickets (beginning at $15) are already being sold at TicketMaster.com and at HomeDepotCenter.com.

Like the East-West Shrine Game, the AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will rely on the big names of some ex-NFL coaches to help stir up interest. The two teams in this contest will be led by former NFL head coaches Dick Vermeil and Tom Flores.

Perhaps most interesting about the game is that unlike the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and similar all-star events, the AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will consider underclassmen for their 100 roster spots.

“Our mission is to provide these young men with an unforgettable all-star game experience but just as importantly with invaluable information for their transition out of college,” Clark Gaines, NFLPA Assistant Executive Director, was quoted as saying in the press release. “The NFLPA is a player’s primary resource for information on the business of football, and we will educate these players on how to succeed in the NFL and in their post-football careers.”

Most NFL scouts declined to comment on the new game. One, however, was intrigued by the idea that underclassmen might be involved.

"That's surprising [that underclassmen may be invited to participate], but it definitely is a way to be different from the Senior Bowl and the East-West," the scout, requesting anonymity, wrote in a text.

"Depending on who they're able to get play in the game, I'm sure scouts will be there to see it."

The scout is quite correct in that. The simple inclusion of underclassmen does make this game potentially unique and one to watch. As more details emerge, I'll post them here.

For now, if you'd like more information about the game you can follow the game organizers on Twitter and Facebook at: twitter.com/NFLPABowl and facebook.com/NFLPACollegiateBowl.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 8:21 pm

Sleeper CB prospect Johnson tased, arrested

Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson, considered one of the elite small school prospects of this year's draft, was tased and arrested by Missoula, Montana police early Sunday morning.

Johnson, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 10 rated cornerback for the 2012 draft, was arrested along with junior quarterback Gerald Kemp around 3 am outside of a loud party. One of the players hit police in the chest. Each player grabbed at officers, according to police. NBC Montana reports that each "resisted and were tased. Both Johnson and Kemp faces charges of obstructing a peace officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Both boded out of jail, and will appear in municipal court Monday."

Showing rare transparency that frankly other, bigger schools could take a lesson from, The University of Montana notes the arrests on their official website, quoting Missoula Police Sgt. Collin Rose as saying that "Alcohol appears to be a huge part of this. All charges are a misdemeanor at this time."

Misdemeanor or not, the situation is one that scouts will certainly want to take a look at. They'll be sure to do their due diligence as Johnson not only has pro size, he's proven to be quite a playmaker for the Grizzlies.

Johnson, 6-2 and 204 pounds, had been steadily rising up scouts' boards. An all-conference selection after each of the past three seasons, Johnson was recognized as an All-American in 2011, posting 44 tackles, seven passes broken up and four interceptions -- including two he returned for touchdowns. A year earlier, Johnson was even more productive, totaling five picks and 11 passes broken up.

This year opponents had largely stayed away from him. Of his 31 tackles thus far, 24 were of the solo variety. He had not recorded his first interception of the season, but had posted six pass breakups and forced a fumble. For his career, Johnson has 13 career interceptions.

There had already been speculation in the scouting community that the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game (among others) were considering inviting him. With the arrest, Johnson can only hope that he'll be allowed to participate in one of these premier all-star fesitivites not only to prove he can play with the elite talent in the country, but also to clear his name with pro teams.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 3:42 pm

Locker, Smith star in preseason finales

Many critics panned the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans for making Aldon Smith and Jake Locker the seventh and eighth picks of the 2011 NFL Draft.

While it is impossible to grade either team based on how their prized rookies performed in one meaningless preseason game, it is safe to say that the 49ers and Titans' staffs are feeling pretty good about their selections today. 

Locker completed 15 of 17 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. Locker also led the Titans with 39 rushing yards, including escaping the pocket for a 22-yard touchdown. While accuracy was a huge concern for Locker throughout his time with the Washington Huskies, it was clear the improvement he was making while working with former NFL quarterback Ken O'Brien. I saw the improvement in his throwing motion and accuracy first hand, traveling to Mobile to scout Locker in person at the Senior Bowl, sitting in the stands at the Combine while he threw and later at his Pro Day, as well.

Smith was a terror off the edge for the 49ers in their final tuneup before the regular season. Operating as a reserve outside linebacker and defensive end, Smith led the 49ers with seven tackles, including 2.5 sacks and four pressures. 

I was among those who questioned if Smith would be able to make an immediate contribution as an outside linebacker in San Francisco's 3-4 scheme. A defensive end who owed a significant portion of his sacks to moving inside to defensive tackle during obvious pass rushing downs, I still worry that Smith lacks the agility and flexibility to ever be a star as a true outside linebacker. 

However, what I didn't realize when writing my off-the-cuff grades during draft weekend was the multiple roles the 49ers had planned for Smith. These roles were made clearer during training camp and in the impressive performance Smith had last night against the Chargers. Defensive coordinator Vinc Fangio had Smith operating as an outside linebacker, but also dropped him back down to defensive end. Smith was at his best when at defensive end, routinely collapsing the pocket due to his speed, long arms and aggressive scheming by San Francisco, which used stunts to free Smith up. 

Ultimately, the fourth preseason game for each player isn't likely to boost them into the starting role. Still, the strong performances were exciting for the development of two of the 2011 draft's most hotly debated prospects.   

Posted on: April 26, 2011 10:28 pm

Arizona Cardinals Draft Preview

Arizona Cardinals 2010 record: 5-11, fourth place NFC West

2011 draft rundown - Eight total picks (round): 5 (1); 38 (2); 69 (3); 103 (4); 136 (5); 171 (6); 184 (7); 249 (7)

Top needs:   

Outside linebacker: Last year's starters, Clark Haggans and Joey Porter, will be 34 by the time the season is scheduled to start. Haggans could return, but Porter, whose salary is due to increase to $5.75 million probably is gone. Von Miller would be a nice replacement. With Daryl Washington and O'Brien Schofield, the Cardinals would have three young, promising linebackers. Brooks Reed from the University of Arizona would make sense in the second round. He's bigger and would be a good fit on the left side.

Quarterback: It's the top priority this offseason, but the Cardinals would prefer to address it through free agency or trade. Those options obviously aren't available to them, but they will be at some point, if the 2011 season is to be played. In John Skelton, the Cardinals already have a young quarterback. But there are some intriguing quarterbacks in this draft. Whisenhunt likes smart, tough gym-rat type of guys. Andy Dalton of Texas Christian falls into that category, as does Washington's Jake Locker. Both likely will be gone by the second round, however.

Inside linebacker: Gerald Hayes, the starter for the past five seasons, probably will be released at some point. The Cardinals don't have a big, inside linebacker on the roster, and could use a physical presence. Illinois' Martez Wilson would make sense in the second round. The starting two inside linebackers, Paris Lenon and Daryl Washington, weigh between 230 pounds and 240 pounds.

Guard: The starting guards, Alan Faneca and Deuce Lutui, are not under contract, and there are no young players behind them. Cannon is huge, 6-5, 358, and the Cardinals love to have large, road-grader type guys inside. Cannon has the size to play tackle, too, which is attractive.

First-round focus  5th overall -- The general consensus among league insiders is that the Cardinals would much rather land their next starting quarterback via free agency or trade, rather than invest in a rookie. Despite this notion, Arizona could have a hard time passing up Missouri's Blaine Gabbert -- rated by many as the top quarterback of this class -- if he were available to them at No. 5. With several attractive would-be free agents potentially available, the Cardinals could elect to look at other positions of need, however. Chief among them is pass rusher. The Cardinals feature two aging outside linebackers in Clark Haggans and Joey Porter and could be in prime position to nab the top pass rusher of the draft in Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller. The Cardinals kept close eye on the former Aggie throughout the week of practice at the Senior Bowl and could certainly use his speed off the edge. Arizona is so needy at the position that some theorize the club would "reach" for North Carolina's Robert Quinn should Miller already be gone. Perhaps a safer move would be to stick to the best player available strategy. LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson wouldn't fill as big of a need, but could present a big play threat opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Similarly, if Georgia wideout A.J. Green were to still be available, he would provide the Cardinals with a vertical threat to help Larry Fitzgerald. With two receivers of that quality, veteran quarterbacks would likely be lining up at the door to play in Arizona, especially considering that the Cardinals play in the very winnable NFC West division.

Five names on Cardinals' board:   
OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
WR A.J. Green, Georgia
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
OLB Robert Quinn, North Carolina
Posted on: April 16, 2011 10:43 pm

Teams are red-flagging DT Phil Taylor's feet

Every year there are players who slip on draft day and leave all of us befuddled. Later, we typically find out that the player had medical concerns pop up, leading to the unfortunate drop.

Injury concerns have led to unstable stock for Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers and Alabama running back Mark Ingram this year. They aren't the only first round talents being downgraded due to medical red-flags, I'm being told.

Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor, himself a veteran of 43 games played, is also under scrutiny. Apparently during his Combine check, there were various injuries that caused teams some concern, the most serious of which involves both feet.

Taylor, according to MRIs taken at the Combine, has bones growing together in his feet. The condition, which according to the source is not correctable through surgery, is a pain tolerance issue. Considering that Taylor played much of his senior season at 330-340 pounds -- and has allowed his weight to get into the 380s in the past -- teams are concerned that his weight will only make the injury tougher to handle.

"If he was a 190 pound player, it might be different. Or, if he was an older player and you were only signing him for a few years, it might be different," a source said. "But, it is pretty hard to invest a first round pick in a player who you know coming in is being red-flagged by the doctors."

"This isn't just our team, by the way. Every team gets the MRIs. Every other team is seeing this too."

I tested that theory, as it is important to remember that this is the time of year for NFL sources insinuating the truth (and, in the cases of some, flat-out lying) in an effort to push players down the board. Therefore, I contacted other sources within the league and did confirm with another source that Taylor's injuries were being red-flagged by his team's doctors, as well.


Posted on: April 6, 2011 1:21 pm

Only Seahawks show up for McElroy's Pro Day

The Seattle Seahawks were the only team represented at Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy's Pro Day workout yesterday.

McElroy had been unable to throw at the Combine or the Tide's initial Pro Day after fracturing a bone in his throwing hand during the Senior Bowl. Though his production was impressive for Alabama , scouts worry that he doesn't have the arm strength to make throws outside of the hashes against NFL speed.

Much of the workout can be seen on the video shown below. The video was shot by Michael Casagrande of The Daily Bama Blog:

McElroy measured 6017 (an eighth of an inch under 6-2) and 220 pounds at the Combine. As one would expect based on his play at Alabama, McElroy demonstrates good accuracy on short to intermediate throws, including when on the move. His accuracy falters on deeper passes and his passes arrive with only moderate zip, overall.

Still, the workout provides evidence that McElroy is healing. He is viewed as a 5th-6th round pick as NFLDraftScout.com's 10th rated quarterback . While he lacks the upside of a Josh Portis (Cal-PA) or Nathan Enderle (Idaho), if nothing else McElroy's intelligence and game-management skills make him an ideal backup.

The video shows two representatives for the Seahawks, southeast scout Derrick Jensen and quarterbacks coach Carl Smith.

Here is the video:

Posted on: April 5, 2011 4:38 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 4:41 pm

Thomas runs once (4.6), steadies stock in process

Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas needed to run the 40-yard dash to reassure scouts that he had enough speed to translate his collegiate success into the NFL.

As it turns out, he was only able to run it once.

According to Herbie Teope of Time Warner Cable Metro Sports, Thomas was unofficially clocked at 4.60-4.61 seconds in his first attempt at the 40-yard dash. I've since been able to confirm with an NFL source on the scene that Thomas ran in the "low 4.6s."

Citing a strained quad muscle, Thomas was unable to run the event a second time. He was, however, able to make it through the shuttles and positional drills.

Thomas measured in at 6-0, 228 pounds -- two pounds lighter than he had weighed in at the Combine in late February.

Due to hamstring injuries, Thomas had been unable to perform at the Senior Bowl, the Combine or Kansas State's original Pro Day.

For all of his muscle strains suffered since the season ended, it is important to note that Thomas showed excellent durability while with the Wildcats. He started every game during his two seasons at Kansas State, earning First-Team All-Big 12 honors and leading the conference in rushing yards both years.

The time, while certainly not explosive, shows that the powerful and surprisingly agile Thomas does have enough speed to be successful in the NFL. He isn't a breakaway threat, but has the ability to gain yardage in chunks.

Among the teams present for the workout were the New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams, according to Teope. 

Thomas is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5 rated running back and No. 72 rated player overall . He's viewed as a 2nd-3rd round prospect.

Posted on: April 5, 2011 2:03 pm

Scouts heading to KSU, 'Bama for late Pro Days

Over the next few hours we can expect to hear the results from late pro days for Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas and Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy .

Regardless of how each performs in shorts, their NFL grade should have largely been already determined by scouts, as Thomas and McElroy's production on the field speaks for itself.

The 6-0, 230 pound Thomas proved a star running back for the Wildcats after a junior college career in which he played quarterback. Thomas was recognized as the Big 12's Offensive Newcomer of the Year in 2009 and led the conference in rushing yards each of his two seasons with the Wildcats. He leaves KSU with 2,850 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns on the ground in only two seasons.

McElroy led Alabama to a national championship in his junior season and saw his production rise dramatically in 2010. In his two starting seasons in the Tide's pro-style offense, McElroy threw 37 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. McElroy, 6-2 and 220 pounds, threw just 10 interceptions in 658 career attempts or for one every 65.8 attempts, which is the best mark in school and SEC history.

Despite their gaudy production against high caliber competition, each has significant questions to answer -- not the least of which is their health.

Thomas, NFLDraftScout.com's fifth-rated running back of the 2011 draft, was unable to play in the Senior Bowl or perform in either the Combine or KSU's initial Pro Day due to a nagging hamstring injury.

McElroy did play in the Senior Bowl, but cracked a bone in his right (throwing) hand that sidelined him for the Combine throwing session and Alabama's initial Pro Day.

The biggest question scouts have about Thomas is his speed. He has been estimated at anywhere between 4.55 and 4.70 in the 40-yard dash. Obviously, the better he does Tuesday, the higher his stock could raise. Scouts would also like to see Thomas catch passes out of the backfield. Thomas caught 27 passes as a senior, but rarely anything more complicated than screens or simple swing passes.

For McElroy, NFLDraftScout.com's 10th rated quarterback , the question is about his arm strength, or, as the case may be, his lack of it. McElroy has enough zip to fit through windows down the middle, but struggled, at times, putting enough drive on the ball on passes outside of the hashes. Too often his deep passes fluttered, as well.

NFLDraftScout.com will keep you posted on how each all-conference star does in their workouts today.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com