Posted on: March 7, 2012 6:55 pm
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Something was missing. Or was it someone?
Somehow, there wasn't much of a buzz Wednesday at Alabama's Pro Day.
Running back Trent Richardson wasn't there. Neither were two former Alabama teammates: safety Mark Barron and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw.
All but two of the 32 teams were represented at an event at which 14 members of the Crimson Tide's 2011 national championship team performed, but head coaches and all but three general managers stayed away. The Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams were the teams not represented.
The Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers sent their general managers. One of the few recognizable faces was former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, now the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator.
A bigger and better crowd is expected on March 29, when Richardson, Barron and Upshaw are scheduled to perform along with some of the players who participated Wednesday.
Richardson, NFLDraftScout.com's top-ranked running back and a projected first-round pick, still is recovering from minor postseason knee surgery.
Barron, the top-ranked safety by NFLDraftScout.com, is recovering from double-hernia surgery.
Upshaw, ranked second behind South Carolina's Melvin Ingram among outside linebackers, has been plagued by tendinitis in a knee, Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday.
Alabama center William Vlachos, who wasn't among the nine former Alabama players invited to the recent NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, did his best to impress NFL scouts Wednesday, but he stopped short of performing in the event that is his strength: the bench press.
He will wait until March 29 to show how many times he can lift 225 pounds.
"The high-profile guys will be participating in the events then," Vlachos said.
One or two players projected as first-round draft choices were among the players who performed Wednesday. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, ranked 15th overall by NFLDraftScout.com, and inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower (28th) were among six Alabama players who had been to the combine but wanted to show off their skills again.
One player whose stock might have fallen at the combine might have improved his status slightly Wednesday.
Cornerback DeQuan Menzie ran the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds at Indianapolis. He improved that time to 4.66 seconds Wednesday.
"At the combine, I wasn't relaxed," Menzie said. "I was feeling so much pressure. Here, it was like I was at home, and I could release the pressure and run my best 40."
Menzie came out of the combine rated the 20th best cornerback available in the draft and was projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. Some teams might consider him as a free safety.
"I play it all," Menzie said. "I played safety in the Senior Bowl. I played safety in high school. I played corner here. I played in the nickel spot. There's really nothing that I can't handle. Saban put me through that."
Menzie has been training with Kirkpatrick and Hightower. What have they been telling Menzie?
"We've just got to get that money," Menzie said. "That's what Dont'a and Kirk say all the time. 'Go get that money. You've got to have the money on your mind.'"
Vlachos admitted he was disappointed.
"If you look at the top-five consensus defensive tackles in the draft, I blocked all of them and blocked them well," Vlachos said.
In particular, he was referring to Penn State's Devon Still, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy and Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox and Michael Brockers of LSU.
"I can play with all of those guys," Vlachos said. "I think I proved that on film for three years. If these guys are top 15 picks, yes, I think I should have been invited to the Combine."
As a three-year starter, Vlachos said he played most of his college career at 295 pounds. Sensitive to being called small, the 6-foot-1 lineman has worked at gaining weight. He weighed in Wednesday at 319 pounds.
"I put on some weight, and I was able to run very well carrying it," said Vlachos, who ran the 40 in 5.27 seconds. "My arm length and height are not ideal. I also don't want to be light. Being able to run at that weight has got to be a positive for me."
Hightower has been listed at 6-4 throughout his college career. He has been listed as 6-2 by the NFL, but he was measured at 6-0 on Wednesday. Who measured him?"I don't know," Hightower said. "I know I'm 6-3. I'm telling all of y'all: I'm 6-3. I don't know what they're talking about."
He noted that former Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain was measured at 6-2 two years ago.
"They're going to measure me at 6-foot?" Hightower said. "I'm not even taking that. I'm 6-3. For everybody, I'm 6-3."
Neither Hightower, Kirkpatrick nor wide receiver Marquis Maze ran the 40-yard dash Wednesday. Maze and wide receiver Darius Hanks were among the Alabama players who went to Indianapolis. Hanks ran the 40-yard dash in 4.66 seconds then and in 4.69 seconds Wednesday.
Other participants Wednesday and their 40-yard dash times: cornerback Phelon Jones (4.65), tight end Brad Smelley (4.78), outside linebacker Alex Watkins (4.78), outside linebacker Jerrell Harris (4.81), offensive lineman Alfred McCullough (4.82), offensive lineman John Michael Boswell (5.35) and nose guard Nick Gentry (5.66).
Nose guard Josh Chapman, who came to Indianapolis but did not participate in any drills because he is recovering from mid-January knee surgery, participated in the bench press on Wednesday. Lifting for the first time since before the Jan. 9 BCS Championship game, Chapman lifted 225 pounds 29 times.
Posted on: March 7, 2012 3:26 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 3:29 pm
I am beginning to get some of the early results from the just concluded Alabama Pro Day but perhaps the biggest story of the day was who wasn't available to work out rather than who was.
Three of the four Crimson Tide prospects currently rated as first round caliber prospects by NFLDraftScout.com did not participate in today's workout. It had been known that running back Trent Richardson (knee) and safety Mark Barron (hernia) would not be working out today. Pass rusher Courtney Upshaw also was unable to workout today due to knee tendinitis. Each is expected to participate in Alabama's second Pro Day workout, scheduled for March 29. All 32 NFL teams were represented today. Expect all 32 to be there March 29, as well.
Of course, the defending national champions boast plenty of talent other than these three -- not the least of which is two other potential first round prospects in cornerback 'Dre Kirkpatrick and inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower.
Neither Kirkpatrick nor Hightower elected to run the 40-yard dash Wednesday after participating in the event at the Combine. Each participated in positional drills.
Hightower did go through other measureable drills, as well, including the three-cone (4.73) and short (20-yard) shuttle (7.55), according to a source on the scene.
For more information on the Alabama Pro Day and all others, keep NFLDraftScout.com and our Pro Day blog posts refreshed.
Posted on: February 28, 2012 3:13 pm
With Alabama's Mark Barron the only player at his position considered by most talent evaluators to be worthy of first round consideration, it isn't news that the 2012 draft offers only a mediocre crop of safety prospects.
The timing couldn't be much worse for NFL teams needing help at the position as the 2011 season was characterized by the emergence of several tight ends as legitimate downfield threats and the continued expansion of three and four receiver spread attacks. To combat the aerial onslaught, defenses are looking for big, athletic safeties.
The safeties were the final prospects to run the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine but with only a few exceptions they weren't able to reward scouts for their patience. In fact, of the 21 safeties invited to the Combine this year, zero recorded a time under 4.50 seconds. Worse, of the strong and free safeties given a top 125 grade by NFLDraftScout.com prior to the Combine, only Notre Dame's Harrison Smith (4.57) recorded a time under 4.66.
South Carolina State's Christian Thompson just missed the mark, clocking in at exactly 4.50 according to the "official" times released by the NFL. And while the fast time certainly helps legitimize Thompson's athleticism, considering his low level of competition and inconsistent play over his career, frankly he may have needed the workout if he is to generate anything more than mid to late Day Three consideration.
Similarly, scouts expected to see Vanderbilt's Sean Richardson work out well and he did -- enjoying the best all-around performance of any safety with a 4.52 time in the 40-yard dash, as well as demonstrating power (22 repetitions of 225 pounds) and explosiveness (38.5" vertical, 128" broad jump) but the concerns about him are about his agility, instincts and ball-skills. Richardson had just one interception in 49 career games, including 31 consecutive starts to finish his career.
Barron was unable to work out due to his recovery from hernia surgery performed after the season. Teams looking for immediate safety help may have to either reach to take him or hope one of the bigger, more instinctive and physical cornerbacks of the 2012 class can make the adjustment to safety as an NFL rookie.
Somewhere Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and a host of other receiving specialist tight ends are smiling...
Posted on: February 22, 2012 7:20 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:32 am
The competition to be the second running back selected in the 2012 NFL Draft will go from one of the more intriguing second tier topics of this week's Scouting Combine to one of the major stories with news Wednesday that Alabama runner Trent Richardson, the unquestioned top talent at the position, won't be able to perform in Indianapolis.
Richardson, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 6 rated overall prospect, underwent minor knee surgery a few weeks ago after initially injuring his knee while preparing for the BCS National Championship, according to NFL.com's Jason LaCanfora.
Though Richardson won't be able to participate in the athletic drills at the Combine, according to the report, he is expected to be able to participate in Alabama's March 7 Pro Day.
(LaCanfora has since reported via Twitter that Richardson will be working out on March 27, raising questions about his availability for Alabama's original Pro Day.)
Assuming that team doctors don't find reason to believe that Richardson will be troubled by the knee in the future, his stock isn't likely to be impacted, according to a league source who shared his thoughts under the condition of anonymity.
"If the doctors say he's okay, it won't change anything. [Richardson] is an elite talent," the scout wrote in a text message.
Considering the physicality with which he plays, however, the injury certainly will be checked out thoroughly by every team. Richardson suffered a slight MCL tear in 2011 and underwent surgery as a sophomore in high school after tearing ligaments in his ankle.
Richardson is currently slated to be a top five draft pick by Dane Brugler and I. Our colleague Pete Prisco has Richardson slipping a bit further but still has the Crimson Tide star earning a pick in the top half of the first round.
Since beating LSU in the BCS Championship, it has been a tough few weeks for several highly rated Alabama players. Prior to news of Richardson's injury, Tide seniors Josh Chapman (nose guard) and Mark Barron (safety) each missed the Senior Bowl due to injuries. Junior cornerback 'Dre Kirkpatrick was arrested (and ultimately had the charges dropped) for marijuana possession.
Richardson finished third in the Heisman voting in 2011 behind only Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. He won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's elite running back, rushing for 1,583 yards and scoring 23 touchdowns, including the only touchdown in the BCS Championship Game.
NFLDraftScout.com currently lists Virginia Tech's David Wilson, Miami's Lamar Miller, Boise State's Doug Martin and Washington's Chris Polk as the other four backs behind Richardson as the top five talents at the position for the 2012 draft.
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:06 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2012 7:06 am
Pro Day workouts are held on campus. While the interview and medical testing components of the Combine are left out at Pro Days, the same athletic drills (40-yard dash, bench press, 3-cone drill, etc.) take place. It is the best opportunity to for athletes not invited to the Combine to audition in front of high-ranking NFL decision-makers.
Posted on: February 6, 2012 11:30 am
Edited on: February 6, 2012 11:32 am
Alabama junior Trent Richardson is universally considered the top running back in the 2012 draft.
Ask five scouts which runner will follow him on draft day and you are liable to get five different answers. Some are enamored with the pure speed of Miami's Lamar Miller or Virginia Tech's David Wilson. Others like the all-around game of Boise State senior Doug Martin. With an MVP-performance in the Senior Bowl that showcased his potential as a returner, Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead is making a late run up the board.
A so-so performance in Mobile has taken some of the luster off of Washington's Chris Polk, but if he runs as fast in workouts as he and those close to him expect him to, the former Husky will certainly be in the mix.
Preparing interviews for Lindy's NFL Draft Preview scheduled to hit newstands March 1, I asked Chris at the Senior Bowl what he expects to run in the all-important 40-yard dash.
He smiled and replied simply, "Faster than any of you all think."
Pressed to be more specific, Polk elaborated.
"From what everyone has been saying and I've been reading, I guess speed is one of the big questions everyone has about me. I'm not that worried about it, to be honest with you. I know how fast I am. I expect to run something in the 4.4s."
Though Polk ran for 4,049 yards for the Huskies over his career, finishing second behind only former first round pick Napoleon Kaufman (4,106) in school history. Though he's shown the ability to break free for several long scores over his career (four TDs of 50+ yards), his straight-line speed is considered one of the question marks on an otherwise sparkling résumé.
Polk is currently preparing for the Combine at Athletes Performance Institute in Los Angeles. If his effort there result in a 40-yard dash time of 4.50 seconds or less, teams won't be able to ignore the fact that his game-tape, frankly, is more impressive than any of the other backs vying to follow Richardson.
Posted on: January 23, 2012 2:37 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:59 pm
MOBILE, Ala. -- It might seem silly to think that lasting impressions can be made on scouts when athletes strut on stage for the weigh-ins prior to various all-star games but talent evaluators can take a lot from the height, weight, hand size, arm length, and general build of the athletes.
Each football position carries with it certain ideal measurements. This, of course, does not mean that players can't be successful in the NFL despite being shorter, heavier or physically less impressive than expected. It does, however, give scouts an idea as to where a prospect might project in the pros, as well as his dedication to the weight-room, etc.
At no all-star game is this more important, of course, than the Senior Bowl, the most prestigious and talent-filled all-star game in college football.
The Senior Bowl weigh-in took place this morning and there were some surprises.
First, there were a few players unable to attend the game. Of the notables is Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright and Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still. Wright suffered an ankle injury and was unable to attend. Still is nursing a sprained big toe.
Clemson defensive end Andre Branch is scheduled to play in the game but was not yet in Mobile this morning to be measured. There was only one addition to the roster so far, Arkansas State outside linebacker Demario Davis was not yet in Mobile but was announced as a player coming in to participate. Davis is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 23 rated outside linebacker for the 2012 draft.
Perhaps the most significant element of the weigh-in proceedings is simply comparing the so-called "small school" prospects to the BCS players. Fortunately for Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick, Furman cornerback Ryan Steed, Massachusetts H-back/fullback Emil Igwenagu and Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson, their impressive physiques certainly passed the eye-ball test as legitimate pro prospects.
Quick, in fact, was one of the more physically impressive players on either roster. He measured in at 6-3 (1/2) and a rock-solid 222 pounds. His 33 1/2 inch arms were only slighter shorter than North Carolina's Dwight Jones (33 5/8) and Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller (34 1/8) -- two receivers who have generated a great deal more national attention than Quick.
The most impressive builds of the day were sported by Utah State inside linebacker Bobby Wagner (6-0 and a 1/4, 241 pounds), Boise State running back Doug Martin (5-09, 219), Michigan defensive tacke Mike Martin (6-1 and a 1/2, 307 pounds) and Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham (6-1 and 5/8, 237 pounds).
Of the offensive linemen, hand size and arm length are of extreme importance. Due to this fact, Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele (10 3/8" inch hands, 35 1/4" arms), Georgia's Cordy Glenn (10, 35 1/8), Florida State's Zebrie Sanders (11, 34 5/8), Ohio State's Mike Adams (11, 33 3/4) showed the big hands and long arms to help convince scouts that they should remain outside at offensive tackle rather than move inside to guard.
With some prospects impressing with their athletic frames, there will naturally be some disappointments. It is worth repeating that the NFL is full of prospects who appeared too small, too heavy or too thin in shorts only to prove Pro-Bowlers on the field. Still, the relatively soft builds for Washington running back Chris Polk, Alabama center William Vlachos, Boise State defensive lineman Billy Winn and Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry were a bit surprising. So too was the fact that North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated prospect in Mobile for this game, measured in lighter than expected at 281 pounds. Coples measured in at just under 6-6 (6-5, 3/4") and had been listed by the Tar Heels at 285 pounds and some expected him to measure closer to 295. Clearly, Coples is attempting to prove he's lean and athletic enough to remain at defensive end rather than move back inside to defensive tackle.
Following the player weigh-ins is the first practice of the week. On every day of the week the North and South teams will alternate practicing at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile per day. Today, however, the North team will practice at Ladd-Peebles whereas the South team will be practicing simultaneously in nearby Fairhope.
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Alabama, Andre Branch, Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Asa Jackson, Baylor, Billy Winn, Boise State, Brian Quick, Cal Poly, Chris Polk, Clemson, Cordy Glenn, Demario Davis, Devon Still, Devon Still, Doug Martin, Dwight Jones, Emil Igwenagu, Florida State, Furman, Furman, Georgia, Iowa State, Jeff Fuller, Kelechi Osemele, Kendall Wright, Massachusetts, Mike Adams, Mike Martin, NFLDraftScout.com, Nigel Bradham, North Carolina, Ohio State, Quinton Coples, Ryan Steed, Senior Bowl, Texas A&M, Utah State, Vinny Curry, Washington, William Vlachos, Zebrie Sanders
Posted on: January 18, 2012 10:12 am
Before the NFL has even officially announced that he (or any other underclassmen) has been granted early eligibility into the 2012 draft, Alabama cornerback 'Dre Kirkpatrick has given scouts reason to question his maturity.