Monday, 29 March 2010

Big week for big name prospects

By Rob Staton
This is an important week in the context of the NFL Draft. Today, Sam Bradford will work out for the first time. A good performance likely confirms he'll be taken first overall by the St. Louis Rams. The nature of these pro-days is to best show the prospect in a comfortable environment. It would surprise me if Bradford doesn't perform to a high standard. Still - it'll be interesting to see how he gets on.

On Tuesday, Oklahoma State wide out Dez Bryant will work out. He missed the combine through injury and skipped the Cowboys pro-day. Having not participated in game action for some months and not worked out for scouts, there's some concern Bryant is out of shape. Throw in the character concerns and some have started to predict a heavy fall on draft day. If Bryant runs in the 4.4's - that will soon be forgotten. However, if he runs a bad time (4.6's) and looks sluggish - paired with the off the field issues - he may drop like a stone.

Also on Tuesday - Anthony Davis will hold a private work out. He didn't perform at the Rutgers pro-day, which apparently angered some scouts. For me, Davis remains the most likely to go off the board first from the 2010 tackle class. Pass protection rules the day and Davis is superior to Okung, Williams, Bulaga et al in that aspect. He's young (only 20 years old) and needs to mature, whilst questions remain about his work ethic (and rightly so). However, when all is said and done I expect Davis to remain a top ten pick the same way that Andre Smith maintained his position amongst the top picks last year.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy will throw for scouts on Wednesday. He took part in most drills at the combine. He's been nursing a minor injury since the BCS Championship. I don't expect McCoy to impress too many people when he throws - the tape has shown a lack of arm strength or accuracy throwing deep. I'm not sure what he can do throwing on Wednesday to significantly improve his stock. However, a lot of these suggestions he'll go in the late first round or early second will be put to bed if he performs badly. I just don't see a NFL starting caliber QB in McCoy, despite his superb college career.

The USC pro-day will also take place on Wednesday, with a number of big names likely to participate. It could be another opportunity for offensive lineman Charles Brown to impress, not to mention the likes of Everson Griffen, Taylor Mays, Damian Williams, Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson.


JohnnyB said...

"However, when all is said and done I expect Davis to remain a top ten pick the same way that Andre Smith maintained his position amongst the top picks last year."

You seem to be ignoring what teams learned about the inabilities of Smith *after* the draft.

Rob Staton said...

Not really. Anyone can get injured and miss time. Smith had the bad off-season to end all bad off-season's and maintained his place in the top ten. I don't think Davis has been as bad and I actually think he's a better prospect in that Smith only ever looked like an interior guy or RT - I see Davis manning the blind side because he's very good in pass protection.

Bruce M. said...

The red flag on Smith was his HEAD, not his injury problems. The Bengals took the plunge, and so far have gotten burned.

Davis has the same red flag. No amount of physical skill can compensate for immaturity and/or lack of desire. Will Davis grow out of these things? Dunno. Some do. Some don't.

Because of this, he is not a good value, overall, in the top 10. He becomes a better value, because the risk shrinks, as you move down the board.

Rob Staton said...

Bruce - Johnny made a reference to what we've learned about Smith since the draft. Smith missed a lot of games in 2009 through injury, which is why I made reference to health issues. We were discussing what teams have learnt about taking a guy like Smith since the draft - which is also why I said injuries can happen to anyone.

I know that Smith was a major concern in terms of work ethic and attitude - the 2009 draft archive is available on this very blog. As I've related to here, Davis has the same problems. However, they aren't of the same extent - after all, Davis worked out at the combine and hasn't run a shirtless forty yard dash. Even with the issues, Smith was still a top ten pick.

I actually think Davis has bigger upside as a blind side blocker and his issues are less significant than Smith's. This is why I think Davis will remain a top ten pick.

Anonymous said...

Rob, very bad news for the Seahawks today from Oklahoma's Pro Day. Sam Bradford, according to Gil Brandt, showed once-in-a-generation talent. With Bradford, the Rams will be set up to dominate the NFC West for the next decade. Not a surprise, since Bradford's tape showed this sort of ability. The tape also shows Charlie Whitehurst having superior ability to Clausen and any of the other QB's in the draft, but he is not at the level of Bradford. Pete Carroll should start to put together one hell of a defense, or the Seahawks will be watching the playoffs from the sidelines, I'm afraid.

Rob Staton said...

Annonymous - I think Bradford was always going to perform well. These pro-days are like well rehearsed Broadway shows. The guy's throwing to receivers he knows, in comfortable surroundings with no pass rush. Any first round QB should excel in those circumstances. The only thing I wanted to see is Bradford toss a ball pain free - I never doubted he'd be accurate out of pads.

Having said that, I think he has the potential to have a good career if the Rams can find him some wide outs and a tight end. They could do worse than work out a trade for Tony Scheffler at Denver - who is available. But it'll be interesting to see how he copes against a NFL pass rush on what remains a bad team. Nevertheless, St. Louis had to find a QB. I won't rush to label them perennial playoff contenders though.

Bruce M. said...

News flash--

It takes more than a QB to win in the NFL. Even a great QB. How long did it take Elway to win, again?

The Rams have weaknesses throughout their team, not just at QB.

akki said...

Funny, I thought Jamarcus Russell had once-in-a-lifetime talent. Not that Bradford would be going to a team where the team cancer is also the owner, but great pro day =/= great pro qb.

Rob, I'll have to differ on Davis vs Smith too. With Davis the story is he could be special if he puts everything together, but he didn't in college, and he was considered very good yet not dominant. Smith, before the combine he was regularly in the national press, he'd already won the Outland Trophy, and was being considered in the mix for #1 overall by some. Smith's downside was supposed to be that be might not be agile enough to stick at tackle and have to move inside a la Leonard Davis. Anthony Davis strikes me has halfway between Bulaga and Campbell on both accomplishment and risk. I agree that the upside is really high, but I also think he has a downside of bombing out of the league, that Andre Smith doesn't have.

A-R-N-F said...

Yah until Bradford does it under center with a pass rush, he's still a big question mark in my book.

It would be nice if they drew up the contract early and set that first pick in stone. Might let Detroit show their hand a little too.

JohnnyB said...

In my estimation, at least 75% of sports related injuries occur as a result of not being in good enough shape for the sport in question. A major function of muscles is protection.

If I'm right (or even close) then self-discipline issues will lead to injury issues. NFL players have to perform at the highest level, physically, more so than in college. The high talent, low drive guys who skated by on talent in college have to step up their game in the NFL and are at much greater risk of injury trying to step up without being in top shape.

Kip Earlywine said...

At least this means that Jake Locker won't become a Ram next year.

Charles said...

Johnny B, while that may in part be true, look at people like Patrick Kerney who no one can say is out of shape or doesn't work out to keep his body is impressive form, yet has been injured more than almost any other player for us over the last two years. Sure he's still been able to play some, but the results sure show he's been injured. I'd take that as one example (and there are several more) that when your looking at causes for injury, while being lazy can surely increase chances of injury, just playing such an agressive and physically demanding sport like football will generally cause players to be injured.

JohnnyB said...

Charles, I never said being in top shape will prevent all football injuries. It won't, unfortunately. But not being in top shape will certainly greatly increase the chances of getting injured in the NFL, so a player who was thought to have motivation issues, like Smith, is pretty much having this confirmed by getting injured repeatedly.

thomas said...

if locker gets an ok year he might fall down to the hawks next draft