Posted on: March 12, 2012 7:29 pm
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NFL Draft Blog has moved

As part of an upgrade to the entire CBSSports.com' blog system, the NFLDraftScout.com blog dedicated to the NFL Draft has been moved. 

You will be able to look through past blog posts and I and the other members of NFLDraftScout.com have contributed by checking out the archived pages here but for the future postings, this is where to go. 

Thanks for following along. The fun is just getting started.      

~ Rob Rang 

Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: March 10, 2012 12:54 pm
 

Rams get bounty, but dropping to No. 6 has risk

In the wake of the bold trade up by the Washington Redskins to secure the rights to one of the two elite quarterbacks of the 2012 draft class you can expect that there will be plenty of media speculation as to whether head coach Mike Shanahan and his staff overpayed. 

The St. Louis Rams, on the other hand, are universally being lauded for their ability to pry first round picks from the Redskins in the 2013 and 2014 drafts, as well as Washington's second round pick this year for only dropping four spots. 

And while I do believe that this trade could be one of the few in which both teams appear to be "winners," it isn't fair to characterize the Redskins as the only team taking a significant risk with the move. 

Recent conversations with various league sources indicate that six prospects have pulled away as the elite talents of the 2012 draft. Though the order differs slightly per team, the general consensus seems to be that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Southern Cal offensive tackle Matt Kalil, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon have separated from the rest of the pack. In trading out of the second pick to the sixth, the Rams are still guaranteed to see one of these prospects still available to them. Whether it is one capable of making an immediate impact, however, is the bigger question. 

With obvious needs at wide receiver and cornerback, the Rams would presumably love to see either Claiborne or Blackmon still available. The Minnesota Vikings (owners of the third pick), Cleveland Browns (four) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (five) also have signficant needs at these spots, however. With free agency looming, much will change prior to the draft but Rams fans may not be as thrilled with their options at No. 6 as they may have been when hearing of the bounty of picks their team will receive in the move.

Based on the lowered value of running backs in today's pass-happy NFL, Richardson would appear to be the most logical candidate, at this point, to slip to six. And while the Rams are expected to add a running back during the off-season to ease the burden on star Steve Jackson, adding another elite talent at one of the few positions of strength on the roster is not the recipe for success most teams would follow. 
      
Of course, if the draft works out the way Dane Brugler and I anticipate in our updated mock drafts (which reflect the trade), St. Louis could be celebrating their mighty haul of draft picks and adding a certain playmaker for Sam Bradford to boot.                
Posted on: March 9, 2012 10:56 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2012 12:23 am
 

Redskins trade for No. 2 pick; poised to nab RG3

St. Louis Rams vice president and chief operating officer Kevin Demoff confirmed to the Sports Xchange on Friday night the agreement on a deal that should be historic for two franchises, as the Rams agreed to trade the second overall pick in this year's NFL Draft to the Washington Redskins, who are expected to use it to select Baylor's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Robert Griffin III.

In return, the Rams hope to build their way out of their 2-14 record in 2011 with the No. 6 overall pick next month, two future first-round picks and a second-round pick. The trade, first reported by FoxSports.com, cannot become official until the new league year begins at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, when free agency also begins. 

It is the kind of deal the Rams needed to make after new head coach Jeff Fisher said last month that the team is committed to quarterback Sam Bradford, which put that prized No. 2 spot squarely on the trading block for anybody desiring to take "RG3." It is assumed that the Indianapolis Colts will use the first pick to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck to replace departed Peyton Manning.

The Redskins' urgency to move up to the No. 2 spot was heightened with multiple reports saying Manning told the team he wasn't interested in playing for Washington after being released by Indianapolis on Wednesday. Manning visited Denver Friday, creating even more potential for the Dolphins to take a shot at getting Griffin. The Cleveland Browns were also reported to be interested in the No. 2 spot.

The Rams can use the No, 6 spot to get any number of talented, top 10 prospects, including a pair of offensive tackles -- Southern Cal's Matt Kalil and Iowa's Riley Reiff -- LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne or Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
  
Earlier Friday, Blackmon showed off for personnel from every NFL team at his Pro Day in Stillwater, Okla., where he was clocked in 4.46 seconds for 40 yards. Demoff would neither confirm nor deny whether the Rams were interested in getting Blackmon to catch passes from Bradford.
  
The trade may not be the best of news for Griffin. Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has spent more money than any other team this century in search of a Super Bowl team. But the Redskins seem to make the least of these deals and often seem dysfunctional, perhaps best evidenced by an inability to get on the same page with veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb in 2010.
  
Coach Mike Shanahan runs his version of a West Coast offense, which does feature mobility at quarterback with the sprint right option as a basic play. Griffin is a great athlete, as evidenced by his unofficial 40-yard time of 4.38 seconds and a vertical jump of 39 inches at the Scouting Combine in February.

--Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange

Posted on: March 9, 2012 7:34 pm
 

Blackmon's big Pro Day draws key decision-makers

STILLWATER, Okla. -- When Justin Blackmon didn't run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, questions about his speed persisted.
With 62 representatives from all 32 NFL teams watching him at his pro day, Blackmon erased any lingering doubt about his timed speed in roughly 4.45 seconds.

Oklahoma State listed Blackmon's 40 time as a 4.46 Friday. Scouts attending also had him running in 4.44 seconds.

"I was trying to shoot for a 4.45," Blackmon said. "That was kind of in my head, anywhere between there and 4.5.

"I felt pretty good when I ran it. My time was there. It says everything it needs to say."

In other drills, Blackmon touched 35 inches in his vertical jump, ran 4.36 in the shuttle and jumped 10-feet-3 inches in the broad jump. Satisfied with his 14 reps in the bench press from the NFL combine, he decided to skip that drill.

Blackmon caught 14 of 16 passes from quarterback Brandon Weeden during pass-catching drills. He did have two drops, both on out routes, but made two 50-yard catches on which he made adjustments to the ball in midair.

"Brandon put the ball on the spot," Blackmon said. "I had a couple of drops, but overall it went well."

Most of Blackmon's catches occurred either within 10 yards on the left sideline or past 20 yards on the right sidelines. He did not run any routes to the right side within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage.

Some of the teams drafting early in the first round sent top coaches to Oklahoma State's pro day.

For the Cleveland Browns, head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress were on hand. Shurmur and Childress stood to the left of Weeden as they watched Blackmon in the receiving drills.

The Minnesota Vikings, with the third overall pick in the draft, had four members of their staff in attendance, including coach Leslie Frazier. The Vikings staff had a meeting scheduled with Blackmon immediately after his workout.

Frazier said he thinks there is a good chance Blackmon will be available for the Vikings at the third pick if his team decides it wants to select him. Andrew Luck of Stanford and Baylor's Robert Griffin III are widely expected to be the first two picks in the draft, but the Vikings drafted quarterback Christian Ponder in the first round of the 2011 draft.

"He's a terrific young player," Frazier said. "He didn't do anything to make you wonder if he was a different person on tape. He really solidified some of the things you saw on tape."

Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith and Denver Broncos coach John Fox were the other coaches in attendance. Fox was flanked by vice president John Elway and general manager Brian Xanders before hurriedly hitting the airport, where they boarded a jet bound for Denver with Peyton Manning as a passenger.

The Broncos, though, were likely scouting Weeden and other participants more than Blackmon.

After declaring for the draft, Blackmon's initial goal was to participate in as few drills as possible at the pro day. A minor hamstring injury during the week of the combine forced him to skip the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, raising doubts about how fast he was projected to run.

For Blackmon, he felt relieved to post a convincing time of 4.46, which should stand up to any bristle about a "fast track" in Stillwater.

"It was a process to try to knock it all out at the combine, and things popped up and I couldn't," Blackmon said. "I'm glad I got to come out and perform today and glad I got to knock it out."

In the weeks leading up to the pro day, Blackmon had to adjust his training to allow his hamstring to rest.

"I didn't do everything running wise I could (have) to better myself," Blackmon said. "I had to cut down on the runs and coming in and out of breaks. I did a lot more upper body things."

Blackmon's focus turns to private workouts with teams. Todd France, Blackmon's agent, said his client had workouts scheduled with multiple teams, but France would not disclose which teams will be hosting Blackmon.

Contributed by James Poling
Posted on: March 9, 2012 1:32 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2012 6:37 pm
 

Top-rated WR Blackmon proves speed with 4.4 times

After measuring in shorter and lighter than expected and showing a lack of explosion during receiving drills at the 2012 Scouting Combine, the pressure was on Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon to perform well at his Pro Day

It appears that he did precisely that. Former St. Louis Rams' Vice President of Player Personnel Tony Softli reported on Twitter that three separate scouts had clocked Blackmon in the low 4.4s (4.43, 4.44, 4.45) in the 40-yard dash Friday.  

NFLDraftScout.com confirmed the time with one of our own sources on hand, who had Blackmon at 4.45 seconds. Our source also reports that Blackmon registered a 35.5" vertical jump. 

While Blackmon, the reigning back to back Biletnikof winner as the nation's top wide receiver, had enjoyed a stellar career with the Cowboys there had been plenty of concern about his straight-line speed. Multiple scouts had estimated Blackmon in the mid 4.5s throughout this season and earlier in his career.

The faster than expected times, by themselves, won't dramatically increase Blackmon's stock. They do, however, help assure scouts that Blackmon has the speed to continue his big playmaking ways against NFL competition and likely solidify his stock as a top 10 -- or perhaps even top five -- prospect. 

Blackmon had been rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 1 receiver and is our No. 5 rated prospect, overall. 
 
At this point Blackmon and the rest of the Cowboys are still working out. NFLDraftScout.com will have a full report from the Oklahoma State Pro Day after it ends.
Posted on: March 9, 2012 9:12 am
Edited on: March 9, 2012 9:14 am
 

Georgia TE Orson Charles arrested for DUI Friday

Georgia tight end Orson Charles was arrested by Athens-Clarke County Police early Friday morning for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and driving at a minimum speed, according to multiple reports. 

According to the Athens-Clarke County Jail reporting log, Orson Reuben Charles, 21, was booked at 4:31 am. He was released on bond less than an hour later.  

Charles, ranked as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 tight end for the 2012 draft, left Georgia after a junior season in which he caught 45 passes for 574 yards and five touchdowns and earned All-SEC accolades from conference coaches and media, alike. It marked the third year in a row in which Charles had been acknowledged by the SEC, as he earned Second Team honors in 2010 (26-422-2) and received a spot on the conference's All-Freshman team in 2009 with 23 catches for 374 yards and two scores. 

Charles is a natural hands receiver with good overall athleticism. At only 6-2, 251 pounds, he lacks the bulk most teams prefer at the position. He is, however, a feisty blocker, and led all tight ends tested at the Combine this year with 35 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press drill. Scouts had hoped that he'd run faster at his Pro Day to perhaps pull away from the other two tight ends -- Clemson's Dwayne Allen and Stanford's Coby Fleener -- generating talk as the top tight end prospect in the draft. A year after Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham proved just how effective tight ends can be as matchup nightmares, no tight end in the 2012 class is generating universal first round grades from clubs.

The arrest is an obvious blight on his record and one that NFL teams will want to investigate thoroughly. Charles had been considered a high character player prior to this arrest, according to a league source, who cited the fact that Charles was voted a team captain, was a recipient of one of the team's Offensive Coaches Leadership Awards and had earned a spot on the SEC Academic Honor Roll during the fall.
Posted on: March 8, 2012 8:51 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 9:13 pm
 

Former 'Canes show support at Pro Day

The Miami Hurricanes might not have any first-round prospects, but they have a solid group of draftable players, including three Top 100 prospects according to NFLDraftScout.com, who drew 66 scouts from the NFL and CFL to Thursday's Pro Day.

The Hurricanes have been known for their strong support from alumni as well, and NFL players Jimmy Graham, Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss, Antrel Rolle, Matt Bosher, Orlando Franklin, Richard Gordon and DeMarcus Van Dyke took in the workout as well, according to the school's website.

The main draw is running back Lamar Miller, who is battling with former ACC foe David Wilson to be the second back off the board behind Alabama's Trent Richardson. Miller skipped the 40-yard dash after running a blistering 4.4 at the Scouting Combine, but he did post a 35.5-inch vertical jump and a 6.94-second L Drill. He's currently the No. 40 overall prospect according to NFLDraftScout.com ratings.
 
Defensive end Olivier Vernon and offensive lineman Brandon Washington chose only run the 40-yard dash, posting a 4.68 and 5.07, respectively, and standing on the rest of his Combine numbers.

Quarterback Jacory Harris, defensive lineman Marcus Forston, linebacker Sean Spence and wide receivers Travis Benjamin and Tommy Streeter decided to stand on all their agility test numbers from Indianapolis.

Cornerback Lee Chambers, a converted running back trying to catch the attention of scout, grabbed the spotlight with a 4.41 40 and a 40.5-inch vertical jump. Defensive end Adewale Ojomo also posted an impressive 31.5-inch vertical.

Wide receiver LaRon Byrd ran a 4.46 40, third amongst athletes tested at UM's workout. He also posted a 35-inch vertical and bench pressed 225 pounds 15 times.

Tight end Chase Ford, a fringe prospect in need of a strong workout, failed to stand out with a 4.76 40, 33-inch vertical and benching 225 pounds 20 times. Offensive lineman Joel Figueroa managed a workout-best 32 reps.

Wide receiver Aldarius Johnson, a high school teammate of Harris' who stood out at the NFLPA all-star event, was allowed to work out at Thursday on campus and was clocked in the low 4.4s at nearly 6-2, 208 pounds. Johnson was suspended for the 2011 season by new head coach Al Golden and though allowed to participate, his numbers from the workout were not among those listed by Miami's official athletic website.

Posted on: March 8, 2012 7:57 pm
 

TE Allen doesn't run at ProDay after slow Combine

Top-ranked tight end Dwayne Allen didn't attract attention for what he did at Clemson's Pro Day on Thursday, but rather for what he didn't do.

   Allen, who clocked an unimpressive 4.89 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month, didn't even run the 40 this time.
   "I'm not a track guy - I'm a football player," Allen said. "Just watch me on film. If you watch me on film, I play way faster, and that's all that matters."
   Many of the 44 NFL personnel on hand for Allen's workout might agree, including New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, who met with Allen at the NFL Combine and was present again at Clemson.
   Allen, the reigning Mackey Award winner who is forgoing his senior season to enter the draft, still projects as one of if not the top tight end available.
   He had 50 catches, including eight for touchdowns, last season, and although he may not be the fastest straight-line runner, some consider him to be the best combination of size, speed, hands and blocking ability.

   --DE Andre Branch (6-4, 259) is another potential first-round pick, currently ranked as the No. 4 defensive end by NFLDraftScout.com.
   He was inconsistent at times last season, showing a tendency to disappear from game to game. One week before 11 tackles, including six for loss and four sacks, in a win over Virginia Tech, he had just one tackle against Florida State.
   But Branch still wound up leading the ACC with 10.5 sacks and making 85 tackles. Scouts love his size, length and explosive burst as well as his versatility - he could be effective in either a 4-3 or 3-4 set. He's coveted for his pass-rush ability.
   Branch, who like Allen is a potential first-round pick, also chose not to run the 40, instead standing on his impressive 4.70 clocking at the NFL Combine.
   "I just wanted to show my versatility today," said Branch, who said he's had contact with about 20 NFL teams. "It's pretty stressful because you want to be great, but at the same time this is what you live for."

   --DT Brandon Thompson (6-2, 316) may have done more than anyone else to impress scouts at Clemson's Pro Day, including clocking a 4.9 time in the 40 that prompted cheers from many on hand.
   "I think I helped myself," Thompson said.
   Not that he needed much help - scouts have been high on Thompson since he emerged as a standout run-stopper up the middle two seasons ago and continued to enhance his stock last season, when he had 77 tackles and a team-high 18 quarterback pressures.
   At 6-2, he's considered "stumpy" and not as versatile as some other top-notch defensive linemen by some scouts, but most are impressed by his "elite burst" off the snap as well as his aggressiveness and consistency.
   "He goes hard all the time," one scout said.

   --FB Chad Diehl (6-2, 260) took a hard blow to the head during Senior Bowl practice and missed that all-star game, then got a double dose of disappointment when he didn't receive an invitation to the NFL Combine.
   So Clemson's Pro Day was a chance for him to shine, and the burly back came through with a 31-inch vertical jump, a 4.9 40 and 28 reps of 225 pounds -- numbers good enough to reaffirm his status as one of the top five fullbacks available in the draft.
   He may be hurt by the fact that few NFL teams use traditional fullbacks, particularly those with limited pass-catching skills, but his ability to overpower defenders at the point of attack is unquestioned.
   Diehl may be a late-round pick or may have to go the free-agent route, but is bound to end up sticking on a roster somewhere after proving his worth as a special teams player.

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