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Tag:Pittsburgh Steelers
Posted on: January 1, 2012 2:10 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:43 pm
 

Underrated Wake Forest WR Givens off to NFL

There is one common denominator between most of the high profile receivers -- Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery, Rutgers' Mohammed Sanu -- they are all big split end prospects.

Some NFL teams are, of course, looking for these types of receivers.

Others teams -- eyeing the success the Pittsburgh Steelers are enjoying with Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders -- are shifting their focus to smaller, quicker receivers capable of lining up at flanker or in the slot.

And that is music to the ears of speedy receivers like Baylor's Kendall Wright and Wake Forest junior Chris Givens, a 6-0, 195 All-ACC wideout who has led the Demon Deacons in all-purpose yardage for three consecutive seasons.

It had been well known that Givens had petitioned the NFL for his grade. Shortly after catching nine passes for 54 yards in a 24-17 Music City Bowl loss to Mississippi State, Givens informed the media that he'd been given a third round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee and that he was heading to the pros.

"Next year, I'll be forgoing my senior year and going to the NFL Draft," Givens said.

Givens is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 11 rated receiver for the 2013 draft. He has a chance to move up in our 2012 rankings due to his speed and playmaking skills.

Wake Forest rarely sends underclassmen to the NFL. Their last one, in fact, was inside linebacker Jon Abbate, who left school early to not get drafted at all in 2007. Jim Grobe, who coached both Givens and Abbate, drew some interesting distinctions between his two former pupils when Givens informed the media that he would be petinioning the league for an early entry grade.
"He's a real-deal guy, there's no question about it," Grobe said. "And Jon Abbate was a real good player. There was no doubt Jon could play. But Jon just wasn't very tall.

"In Chris' case, you know they would probably want him to be a little taller, I'm sure, if the truth is known. They would probably want him to be a little bit more physical as a blocker and did some things without the ball in his hands than he does.

"But he does some really good things — good speed, good routes, good work ethic, catches the ball good. He's got the real, real good foot speed.

"He's a good player. He's a really good player."


Givens ends his career ranked third in Wake Forest history with 21 all-purpose touchdowns on 163 catches for 2,473 yards. 



Posted on: August 22, 2011 9:42 am
 

What to expect in today's supplemental draft

Pushed back over a month from its regularly scheduled date due to the lockout and a bizarre controversy over player eligibility (Terrelle Pryor), the NFL's supplemental draft will begin today at 1 pm Eastern.

This draft, unlike the one in April, will be carried out via email. Teams won't even known the order until approximately 30 minutes prior to the draft. There will be no television cameras in the war rooms. The event won't spark much more than passing interest from your local sports media outlets -- unless, of course, your team elects to draft one of the six players deemed eligible. Alphabetically, they are: Western Carolina cornerback Torez Jones, Georgia running back Caleb King, Lindenwood University/Allen Wranglers (IFL) defensive end Keenan Mace, North Carolina defensive end Michael McAdoo, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Northern Illinois safety Tracy Wilson.

The vast majority of the focus on these six players has been on Terrelle Pryor -- and for good reason. At this point, he is the only player seemingly assured of being selected. Though his workout was not nearly as impressive in its totality as his 4.38-4.41 second 40-yard dash was to begin the Pro Day, the speed shown by the 6043 (six foot, four and 3/8"), 232 pound has definitely created a buzz. I have consistently heard the Steelers, Raiders and Bengals are the three teams most interested in adding Pryor. There has been a lot of talk of a third round pick. The fact that Pryor is suspended for nearly a third of the regular season might push him down a round or two.

King has also generated a great deal of interest. There were at least seven teams at his Pro Day workout last week, including Washington, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Buffalo. Media reports following the workout had King (listed at 5-11, 225) as having run in the 4.4s. According to one high level league source, however, King's "officially" was measured at 5106 (five foot, ten and 3/4") and 211 pounds. He was timed at 4.71 seconds in the 40-yard dash on an ideal outdoor field turf surface. King has some power as an interior runner, flashes an impressive spin move and shows some lateral agility to avoid defenders. As his slow time suggests, however, he does not have the speed to gain yardage in big chunks against NFL competition. One element of his game that will help his cause is that King is a physical and responsible pass blocker. Still, measuring in slower and lighter than expected, King is looking at a late round (6th-7th) selection, at best. He will almost surely be signed as a free agent if not drafted.

McAdoo is thought by some to be the most intriguing of the remaining prospects. Listed at 6-7, 245 pounds, however, scouts were surprised when he instead showed up to some private workouts in the 230s. McAdoo's length and surprising strength still make him quite a developmental prospect as a pass rusher. He flashed throughout his career and appeared poised to enjoy a real breakout season as Robert Quinn's primary backup for UNC. McAdoo could get a late round sniff, but the feeling among most teams is that he'll slip to free agency.

Mace was signed by the Dallas Cowboys out of the IFL following a collegiate career at Lindenwood University. After a few days practicing with the Cowboys, however, Mace was informed that because he signed with Dallas having not used up all of collegiate eligibility (and not petitioning the NFL for early entry), he was not allowed to be on an NFL roster yet until having gone through the supplemental draft. At roughly 6-4, 313 pounds, Mace played defensive tackle at Lindenwood before switching to defensive end for the Allen Wranglers. He is at his best inside, showing a quick burst off the snap and good strength. He does not possess the lateral agility and closing speed to make many stops outside of the tackle box, but plays with effort and has an intriguing big body capable of contributing to a team using either front. Most teams view his best position as a three-technique defensive tackle for the 4-3. Opinions vary signficantly with Mace. Many clubs view him as a free agent, though there have been some rumblings that he could sneak ahead of King and McAdoo and be a 6th or 7th round pick.

Unfortunately for Jones and Wilson, there does not seem to be a great deal of interest from NFL clubs. Wilson's Pro Day workout was taken in by a few teams, though the NIU safety was unable to demonstrate the caliber of athleticism scouts were looking for.

 
Posted on: August 20, 2011 3:01 pm
 

Pryor dazzles 17 teams w/speed. Less so w/ arm?

Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor proved both dazzling and perhaps a bit disappointing Saturday in hastily organized "Pro Day" workout at a Hempfield (Pa) high school in front of a collection of scouts, front office executives, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin and even Indianapolis Colts' owner Jim Irsay.

Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was also on hand for the workout, showing his support for the player some blame for the program's recent troubles.

Measuring in at 6-5, 232 pounds Pryor wowed onlookers with his straight-line speed early in the workout, posting times between 4.38-4.41 seconds on a soft FieldTurf surface, according to Zac Jackson's Twitter feed. The soft turf generally slows a player down, at least in comparison to a hard turf or track surface. Therefore, these are lightning fast times for Pryor; ones certain to boost the intrigue of teams considering the playmaker.

As impressive as Pryor was running for the stopwatch, he did not run routes or catch passes as a receiver and was apparently less impressive when throwing the ball. While he threw a tight spiral on many of his throws, he also threw a "duck" after instructing one of his four receivers on hand which route to run and there were several incompletions, according to Jackson.

According to The NFL Network's Albert Breer, Pryor completed 27 of 39 passes. Of the 12 incompletions, Breer counted four drops.

Having not been at Pryor's workout, myself, I can't fairly grade his performance during the throwing session. I have been to multiple Pro Day workouts from quarterbacks, most notably Sam Bradford's, Mark Sanchez's and Jake Locker's. Passes rarely hit the ground during these orchestrated workouts with no defenders.

There were 17 teams present at the workout: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Miami, New England, New Orleans, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Washington.

While the fact that more than half of the league's teams were represented at the Pro Day shows that there is a great deal of interest in the former Buckeye, it also should be noted that there were only a few decision-makers on hand. Most of the scouts in attendance were lower-level area scouts, likely close by due to their normal scouting responsibilities at local colleges during the late summer months. The Steelers, not surprisingly given their close proximity, were well represented. Besides Tomlin, Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert was also reportedly at the workout. Irsay tweeted that his Colts are "not taking Pryor" though he also mentioned that his team is "evaluating the QB [situation]."

The workout, while exciting, isn't likely to change the opinions of teams heading towards Monday's supplemental draft. I've argued for a long time that Pryor is quite an intriguing prospect at wide receiver. He, however, has indicated a strong preference for remaining at quarterback, though he did tell teams and the assembled media at the workout today that he'd play any position asked.

As a quarterback, Pryor's average accuracy and decision-making means that he's at minimum a two-year project for playing the traditional quarterback role. He could, however, make a significant and exciting contribution early in his career as a glorified Wildcat option for a club.

His athleticism and size are such a unique combination that Pryor most likely will earn a middle to late round pick. Most expect that it will come in the 4th to 5th round.
Posted on: May 13, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 3:08 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Outside Linebacker

Over the last week and a half I have been highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

Like at inside linebacker, the traditional 4-3 outside linebacker class of the 2011 draft left a lot to be desired. Many of the collegiate defensive ends asked to make the transition to 3-4 rush linebackers I covered in the defensive end group.

Here are the links for the other positions:
Players are listed alphabetically.

Quality Fits:

Chris Carter, Pittsburgh Steelers:  Considering his burst off the edge, closing speed and production, I was surprised to see Carter slip to No. 162nd pick of the draft. The Steelers, of course, do as good of a job of finding edge rushers as any team in the league. Unlike some of the other DE turned OLBs drafted earlier in 2011, Carter shows enough flexibility to dip around the offensive tackle and close on the quarterback -- the critical trait needed to star as a 3-4 rush linebacker. He led the WAC with 11 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss, earning conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. With stars ahead of him, Carter may struggle to find early playing time. When he gets his opportunity, however, he'll do well.

Mason Foster, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: It remains to be seen where Foster - who played inside and outside for the Huskies -- will be used by the Bucs, which have key free agents in starting middle linebacker Barrett Ruud and outside linebacker Quincy Black. Foster, who finished second to only Boston College superstar Luke Kuechly in tackles last year (163 stops), has the production and experience to step in at either spot. While he's not as athletic as Black, nor the physical thumper inside that Ruud is, Foster has excellent instincts, uses his hands to slip blocks as well as any linebacker in this draft and is a very reliable open field tackler.

Brian Rolle, Philadelphia Eagles:  As I mentioned  yesterday in my writeup for inside linebackers, the Eagles have shown a preference for undersized, athletic linebackers throughout Andy Reid's tenure. In Rolle, they found one of the smallest (5-10, 229) and most athletic in this year's draft. Rolle's instincts, surprising physicality and pure speed (4.53) made him a star at Ohio State on defense and special teams. He'll likely earn his paycheck initially as a special teams demon for the Eagles, but could surprise if given the opportunity for playing time as a weakside coverage linebacker. 

Questionable Fit:

Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs: Because Houston demonstrated the ability to rack up production as an outside linebacker in Georgia's 3-4 scheme, he has been characterized by some as one of the better OLB prospects in this draft. I'm considerably lower on him than many others, however, and have been long before reports of his failed drug test at the Combine. Quite frankly, Houston is more explosive off the edge when he has his hand in the dirt as a traditional 4-3 defensive end. When rushing from the stand-up position, he's shown only moderate burst and flexibility to turn the corner. Furthermore, I question whether he has the work ethic to hone his craft. On paper, Houston was a "steal" in the third round considering his All-SEC pedigree and eye-popping statistics. In reality, Houston could struggle making the adjustment to NFL talent.

Posted on: May 9, 2011 4:41 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- The Offensive Line

Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

After several strong years in a row for offensive tackles, the 2011 crop was lacking in elite talent -- at least when it comes to blindside protectors. The strength of the 2011 class lay on the opposite side, as many of the top blockers -- while left tackles in college -- will be asked to switch to the strongside in the NFL. This is likely to be the case with virtually all of this year's top tackles, including the first one selected (Tyron Smith) and the most celebrated offensive tackle of the class (four-year starter Gabe Carimi, the reigning Outland Trophy winner).

With Mike Pouncey and Danny Watkins each top 23 picks, some have mislabeled the 2011 crop of interior linemen as a very good one. In reality, the depth inside was worse than outside this year.

There are, however, plenty of intriguing schematic fits for this year's class.

This is the last of the Finding the Fit breakdowns for offensive prospects. Earlier, I broken down the quarterbacks , running backswide receivers and tight end fits.

Players are listed alphabetically.
Good Fits:

James Carpenter, Seattle Seahawks: Many were surprised to see Carpenter make the first round, though I was not . Carpenter had been steadily rising up draft boards following a quietly impressive week at the Senior Bowl in which he demonstrated the athleticism, versatility and toughness to "plug and play" at any of the four exterior positions. Some pegged quarterback as the Seahawks' greatest need, but considering the fact that the Seahawks received zero or negative yardage on a staggering 26% of their runs last season, upgrading their offensive line was clearly a focus. Carpenter isn't flashy, but he's the physical road-grading right tackle the Seahawks have been missing for years.

Anthony Castonzo, Indianapolis Colts:
The knock on Castonzo was he wasn't as physical as some teams would prefer. Though he's made massive gains in the weight and strength department in his four seasons at Boston College (after starting as a 260 pound RT), he is still not the intimidator in the running game that most OL coaches are looking for. Castonzo does, however, possess good lateral agility, long arms and the dedication to play well immediately. For a team needing immediate help up front to keep Peyton Manning upright, Castonzo was the ideal fit. Castonzo, in fact, was the best fit for the Colts among any of the eight offensive linemen drafted in the first round.

Marcus Gilbert, Pittsburgh Steelers: As I mentioned previously, I had forecasted the Steelers taking an underrated and athletic left tackle from the SEC in Carpenter in the first round. With Carpenter off the board, the Steelers built their defensive line instead with Ohio State's Cameron Heyward at No. 31 overall, but found a similar blocker in Florida's Gilbert at No. 63. At 6-6, 330 pounds, Gilbert is bigger than Carpenter (and more ideal for Pittsburgh's preference for extra large blockers) and yet plays with a similar brand of physicality and toughness. He's capable of competing immediately for playing time at either left or right tackle.

Rodney Hudson, Kansas City Chiefs: A two-time winner of the Jacobs' Blocking Trophy as the best offensive lineman in the ACC, Hudson's consistency and athleticism are unquestioned. At only 6-2, 299 pounds (he played closer to 280 at Florida State), Hudson lacks the girth most teams prefer and will almost surely be asked to switch from his customary left guard position to center by the Chiefs. Kansas City operates out of a zone-blocking scheme, however, that places a premium on athleticism over mass in its offensive linemen. Furthermore, head coach Todd Haley prefers smaller, quicker offensive linemen, as well. I'm not as high on Kansas City's draft as some appear to be. Hudson is a significant exception, however. I believe he'll prove a Pro Bowler one day.

Andrew Jackson, Atlanta Falcons: Just as Hudson was an ideal match for the Chiefs due to his quick feet, "The President" is an intriguing fit for the power-based Atlanta attack. Jackson isn't a nimble athlete, but his size (6-5, 299), strength and tenacity could make him a pleasant late round (7th round, No. 210 overall) surprise for a Falcons team potentially in need of reinforcements up front with guards Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock scheduled for free agency. Jackson would have gone a few rounds higher had he not lost most of his senior season to a nagging ankle injury.

Questionable Fit:

Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys:
There is no denying Smith's athletic upside. If there is a tackle in this class who could wind up being a perennial Pro Bowler a few years from now, Smith is the favorite. That said, due to his athleticism, Smith's best position in the NFL will ultimately be on the left side -- a position he never played while at USC. Jerry Jones would like to believe his Cowboys were only a player or two away from legitimate Super Bowl contention... and perhaps he's right. Smith, however, is likelier to struggle as a rookie than star, making him an questionable choice for a team largely built to win now.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Virtual Who's Who of NFL expected at Miami ProDay

Though the top Hurricane prospects invited to the Combine -- cornerback Brandon Harris, defensive lineman Allen Bailey, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, linebacker Colin McCarthy, offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, running back Graig Cooper and cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, among them -- aren't expected to perform the measurables at today's Pro Day, a virtual Who's Who of NFL personnel is expected to be hand to see them perform their positional drills.

Head coaches Bill Belichick, Jack Del Rio, Tony Sparano, Mike Tomlin and Raheem Morris and high ranking front office personnel Gene Smith (Jaguars), Jeff Ireland (Dolphins), Kevin Colbert (Steelers) and Mark Dominik (Bucs), among many others are expected to attend this morning's workouts, according to Miami's official athletic website . According to Hurricanes' staff, 29 of the 32 NFL teams will be represented, with only the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans not on the list. The Patriots have the largest contingent in Miami, with no less than seven representatives having checked in.

Interestingly enough, the Ravens and Jets have their wide receiver coaches on hand (Jim Hostler, Henry Ellard, respectively). Each club is thought to be high on Hankerson and may be considering the Miami receiver with their first round pick.

There are also a host of former Miami stars on hand to watch the workout, including Warren Sapp, Bernie Kosar, Willis McGahee, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen and DJ Williams.

Keep NFLDraftScout.com refreshed for updates as we get them.

 
Posted on: March 9, 2011 9:44 pm
 

Pitt, Jax TE coaches head to Portland St Pro Day

Portland State tight end Julius Thomas is one of the fastest rising prospects in the draft. The former Viking is hoping to follow the same path as Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates as former basketball players whose unique combination of size, athleticism and soft hands make them playmaking tight ends in the NFL.

In a draft lacking great front-line talent at tight end, but strong in developmental prospects, Thomas ranks among the most intriguining. A strong effort during the all-star game circuit and an impressive showing at the Combine helped boost his stock further. Thomas was clocked at 4.64 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 4.31 in the short shuttle and demonstrated his explosiveness with a 37.5" vertical jump.

Thomas elected to sit on those numbers at his Pro Day Wednesday, instead focusing on positional drills for a number of teams. The Pittsburgh Steelers' tight ends coach James Daniel and Jacksonville Jaguars' tight ends coach Rob Boras were on hand to watch him run routes and catch passes.

Thomas was a standout hoops player with the Vikings, earning a repuation as one of the tougher post players in the Big Sky Conference and setting Portland State's team record for field goal percentage. He played only one season of collegiate football, after spending only one season on the gridiron in high school. Despite his inexperience, the 6-5, 246 pounder earned all-conference honors this season, catching 29 passes for 453 yards and two touchdowns. 

He was one of the stars of the East-West Shrine Game practices, impressing scouts with a blend of athleticism that some compared to Jermichael Finley's. Thomas caught the West's only touchdown in the Shrine Game, itself, and caught the two-point conversion seconds later, as well.  

Posted on: February 24, 2011 10:30 am
 

Schedule for NFL personnel speaking at Combine

The Combine is, of course, about the prospects weighing in, taking medicals, doing interviews and working out.

For much of the media sitting inside the Lucas Oil Stadium, however, the Combine is more important in that many of the NFL's teams' head coaches and front office executives take questions.

For those of you interested, here is Thursday's schedule:

  • 10:00 Chan Gailey, head coach, Buffalo Bills
  • 10:15 Steve Spagnuolo, head coach, St. Louis Rams
  • 10:30 Ron Rivera, head coach, Carolina Panthers
  • 10:45 Jeff Ireland, general manager, Miami Dolphins
  • 11:00 John Fox, head coach, Denver Broncos
  • 11:15 Trent Baalke, general manager, San Francisco 49ers
  • 11:30 John Harbaugh, head coach, Baltimore Ravens
  • 11:45 Jim Schwartz, head coach, Detroit Lions
  • Noon Mark Dominik, general manager, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • 12:15 Kevin Colbert, Personnel Chief, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 12:30 Rick Spielman, Vice President of Player Personnel, Minnesota Vikings
  • 12:45 Jim Harbaugh, head coach, San Francisco 49ers
  • 1:00 Hue Jackson, head coach, Oakland Raiders
  • 1:15 Mike Munchak, head coach, Tennessee Titans
  • 3:00 Howie Roseman, general manager, Philadelphia Eagles
  • 3:30 Rex Ryan, head coach, New York Jets
  • 3:45 Mike Tannebaum, general manager, New York Jets
  • 4:00 Jason Garrett, head coach, Dallas Cowboys
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com