First Round of Pro Days in Draft Season Books

March 17, 2011 | Glenn Clark

No matter what happens in Washington DC or courtrooms in Minnesota or the NFLPA offices; NFL Draft Season is moving forward.

After the Combine, Draft season has now progressed with Pro Timing Days, as players work out in familiar settings on their own college campuses. Some Pro Timing Days have gotten a ton of publicity (like Auburn’s, which aired on ESPN3.com), others have gone virtually unnoticed outside of the local market (Maryland held their Pro Timing Day in College Park Wednesday).

The Baltimore Ravens continue to send scouts to Pro Timing Days during the NFL lockout, a group lead by General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 4, 5 & 6-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium

The Baltimore Ravens made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects who have already held their Pro Timing Days.

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

CB Brandon Harris (Miami)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0yjcu9CJvc[/youtube]

Harris has been a bit of a faller ever since the end of the Hurricanes’ regular season.

He struggled in the Canes’ Sun Bowl loss to Notre Dame. He measured in an inch shorter (5’10″) than his listed height in Indy. He lost an inch on his vertical between his stop at the combine and his Pro Day in Coral Gables.

That being said, he’s been linked to Charm City by a number of mock drafts-both by fans and experts.

Harris measured in at 5’10″ in Indianapolis, and posted an exceptional 4.46 in the 40 yard dash.

He excelled in man coverage during his time under Randy Shannon, playing much above his height. The Ravens would have to believe he can translate that ability to the next level for him to be a real fit in Chuck Pagano’s defense.

Harris is a borderline 1st/2nd round pick. He could go anywhere between 20 and 40. With the Ravens sitting at 26, there’s no question that he’ll be a legitimate consideration.

LB Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-Ckjltk9Ic[/youtube]

The bad news? Sheppard’s disappointing 4.76 40 at his Pro Day in Baton Rouge was particularly troubling for scouts who envisioned him moving to an outside linebacker position at the next level.

The good news? The Ravens would more likely be looking at Sheppard as an inside linebacker prospect given the inability for Tavares Gooden, Jameel McClain or Dannell Ellerbe to look down a starting job in the 3-4 scheme and the long-term reality of Ray Lewis’ age. If his time hurts his stock with some teams, it could make him available to a team like the Ravens later in the Draft.

Sheppard measured in at 6’2″, 250 pounds in Indianapolis. His biggest strength is tackling in space (he combined for 228 tackles between his junior and senior seasons), but he progressed during his senior season enough that he was able to record four sacks and force two fumbles for the Tigers.

Sheppard is a late Friday night or early Saturday at this point. He’s a good player who lacks elite speed. He’s roughly the same size as Lewis. And here’s a note from his LSU bio…

“Undisputed team leader for the Tigers as a senior in 2010 … Known for his fiery pre-game speeches to the team”

Sounds like he might be a fit.

DE D’Aundre Reed (Arizona)

dreed

I was chatting with Arizona DE Brooks Reed at the Combine-and it came upon me to ask him what it was like going through the Draft process with a teammate like Ricky Elmore.

His response caught me off guard.

“Yep, it’s great to be able to have Ricky with me…and D’Aundre Reed.”

My head couldn’t quite get around it. D’Aundre Reed was at the Combine?

Sure enough-despite starting just eight games for the Wildcats, Reed has been getting a bunch of attention during Draft season.

It isn’t because of his numbers. During the last two seasons in Tucson, Reed tallied just 54 tackles and four sacks.

That being said, Reed has good size (6’4″, 258 pounds) and managed to shave his 40 time down to 4.75 at his Pro Timing Day.

There’s certainly no guarantee that he’ll be drafted, but he’ll be an intriguing prospect both late Saturday and after the draft is over. He may a bit more like Cory Redding than Trevor Pryce, but could be an interesting developmental prospect for the Ravens.

OT Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HG8AW-S198[/youtube]

With the news that Ravens assistant O-Line coach Todd Washington was closely watching Sherrod at the Bulldogs’ Pro Day, there has been some buzz in town surrounding the 6’5″, 321 pound tackle.

We all know the Ravens have O-Line needs. OT Jared Gaither and G/T Marshal Yanda are unrestricted free agents. Head Coach John Harbaugh has not hid from the fact that he wants to see Yanda return to guard and Gaither back at RT.

That’s all well and good, but there are a number of moving parts involved-not only due to free agency but also due to the health of Gaither. With Andy Moeller set to begin his first season as O-Line coach, the team could do well to obtain another mammoth bookend tackle.

After not running in Indianapolis, Sherrod clocked in at 5.29 at the MSU Pro Day in Starkville. He’s clearly behind Gabe Carimi in terms of being the most sought after tackle in the draft, but he’s in the mix with the likes of Nate Solder and Anthony Costanzo just behind that.

He’ll likely be available at 26. He probably won’t be available a round later when the Ravens pick again. Depending on how the first round plays out, Baltimore could be a destination for the big man.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0xi0eaaP7I[/youtube]

I understand how 40 times can change between the Combine and Pro Day.

I absolutely do NOT understand how a player like Rodgers can go from measuring in at 5’5 7/8″ inches in Indianapolis and then 5’7″ in Corvallis just weeks later.

Even with the extra inch and an eighth, a team interested in Rodgers would be looking simply for a Ray Rice type of back who is capable of producing solid yards per carry on the ground but can be involved in the passing game to a significant extent as well.

That might not make him a fit in Baltimore-as the Ravens already have a Ray Rice (whose name just so happens to be Ray Rice), but might be looking to revamp their backfield with an impending departure of Willis McGahee, and a potential departure in unrestricted free agent FB Le’Ron McClain.

Rodgers is well known for combining with his older brother (WR James Rodgers) to make the Beavers a very explosive offense over the last few seasons. He posted an impressive 1,471 yards of total offense and 17 TD’s in 2010-which was considered a disappointment after 1,962 yards of total offense and 22 TD’s in 2009.

Clearly the season ending injury his brother suffered and the departure of QB Sean Canfield went into the statistical drop Rodgers suffered as a junior before leaving school.

Rodgers wouldn’t address the Ravens’ backfield needs, but he could be an interesting addition late Friday or early Saturday if Newsome and company believed they could further address the backfield issues later in the offseason (if there is any later in the offseason this year).

WR Jerrel Jernigan (Troy)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63lbmKiBWl0[/youtube]

Jernigan was a clear beneficiary of participating in drills at the Trojans’ Pro Day last week, with the most significant bump coming in his 40 yard dash.

Jernigan was clocked at 4.46 at the Combine, but shaved that number down to 4.32 at his Pro Day.

Jernigan was a consistent target during his four years in Troy, catching 262 balls for 3,128 yards and 18 touchdowns. Critics will (fairly) point out that those numbers were tallied while playing Sun Belt conference competition, and that can’t really be ignored.

Yet most mock drafts see Jernigan as a Friday night selection; where the Ravens could be looking for wide receiver help if they don’t address the position in Round 1.

Jernigan’s 5’9″, 185 pound frame does not give him ideal size to stand out in a receiving corps that already features average sized receivers like Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason. But the team will be looking for a speed receiver option, as Donte’ Stallworth never really found his way into Cam Cameron’s offense a season ago and is a likely departure as an unrestricted free agent.

Getting down to 4.32 at Pro Day could be a big step in proving to scouts (including those in Baltimore) that he has a realistic future as a speed receiver in the NFL.

OG/OT Danny Watkins (Baylor)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVyyt5-S88E[/youtube]

Watkins is a VERY intriguing prospect for a number of reasons.

First of all, it is believed that Watkins is more likely to be a guard at the next level, despite playing LT at a very high level following the departure of former Bears and now St. Louis Rams tackle Jason Smith.

Second, Watkins has a strange story. He grew up in Kelowna (British Columbia), Canada. (He was actually selected by his hometown BC Lions last year in the CFL Draft.) He didn’t play football in high school, instead choosing to play rugby and hockey. He just began playing football three years ago at Butte (junior) College in California and played just two seasons in Waco.

Third, he’s 26 years old. That certainly hurts for some teams who are looking for long term prospects, and his lack of experience might be a detriment to a team who would draft him believing his age made him more pro-ready.

With all of that said, the general consensus is that Watkins is still an early Friday selection. He’d be more valuable to the Ravens as a tackle; but could provide a better option than Chris Chester at guard should the team choose to keep Yanda at RT. The Ravens held a private workout with Watkins in Texas this week, so there’s clearly interest.

And if Watkins becomes a Raven, perhaps his previous career as a firefighter could somehow help? Perhaps?

WR Niles Paul (Nebraska)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmFt10el-m4[/youtube]

Paul shaved his time in the 40 down to 4.42 at his recent Pro Day in Lincoln, .03 seconds faster than the time he posted at the Combine.

But the questions most scouts have about Paul don’t really have much of anything to do with his speed.

The real question is whether or not he’s capable of being an elite receiver at the next level. And it’s certainly a relevant question considering he never posted particularly prolific numbers during his career with the Cornhuskers.

Paul had a good year in 2009, catching 40 passes for 796 yards and four touchdowns; but those numbers fell in his senior season when he grabbed 39 balls for 516 yards and just one score.

Paul’s best value is as a returner, as he tallied nearly 2,500 yards and three TD’s over his last three seasons as the Huskers’ primary return option.

David Reed and Lardarius Webb appeared to get comfortable as the team’s kickoff and punt returners respectively last season, but they certainly haven’t solidified themselves in positions where they couldn’t be unseated.

Paul measured in at 6’1″, 224 pounds at the Combine. His senior season was cut short by a foot injury that will certainly be a concern for any team wanting to consider him.

While not as short as Jernigan, Paul’s size probably wouldn’t allow him to stand out in the Ravens’ receiving corps either-as he’s basically the same size as TJ Houshmandzadeh, who is certainly a question mark to return as an unrestricted free agent.

QB Andy Dalton (TCU)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY_J_w4oQfc[/youtube]

If there was any hope that the man who surpassed Sammy Baugh as Texas Christian’s all time winningest QB could somehow slip far enough to be a consideration for the Ravens on Saturday, those hopes have probably been dismissed by his performances thus far during Draft season.

Dalton had an exceptional Pro Day according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, completing 49 of 52 attempts-with two of his incompletions the result of dropped passes.

Dalton is no stranger to the word “exceptional”, as the four year starter finished his career with more than 10,000 passing yards and 71 touchdowns…and a particularly significant Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.

His 6’2″, 215 pound frame and solid arm will be beneficial to SOMEONE in the NFL…it’s just unlikely to be the Ravens. Joe Flacco is THE quarterback; the team could just be looking for help behind him with Marc Bulger an unrestricted free agent.

RB Mark Ingram (Alabama)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7b6kJwvhN4[/youtube]

If Mark Ingram never played a snap in the NFL, it wouldn’t keep him from being able to write a book about his life to this point.

His father (Mark Ingram Sr.) helped the New York Giants win Super Bowl XXV, but was eventually incarcerated due to charges of bank fraud and money laundering. He remains in prison to this day and is not scheduled to be released until 2014.

The younger Ingram has overcome his father’s troubles in a big way, becoming the Crimson Tide’s first ever Heisman Trophy winner and leading his team to a BCS National Championship Game win over Texas in Pasadena back in January of 2010.

After an incredible 2009 season in which he compiled 1,992 total yards of offense and 20 TD’s, a knee injury delayed the start of his 2010 campaign. A “down” year in 2010 still resulted in 1,157 yards of total offense and 14 TD’s.

Ingram is considered a slam dunk first round pick, especially after getting his 40 time down into the range of 4.5 at his Pro Day in Tuscaloosa following a disappointing 4.62 at the Combine.

The Ravens are unlikely to look to grab a 5’9″ back in the first round, but Ingram’s availability could challenge their “best player available” philosophy. They DO need backfield help even if they have more pressing needs.

There’s also a certain General Manager in Baltimore who has a particular affinity for former Alabama players.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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