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Interesting USC proday article...

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; USC sent more prospects than any other school to this year's Senior Bowl (nine) and scouting combine (12), so it came as no surprise when a three-ring circus of NFL personnel and credentialed media showed up on Wednesday to witness ...

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Old 04-03-2008, 07:12 PM   #1
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Interesting USC proday article...

USC sent more prospects than any other school to this year's Senior Bowl (nine) and scouting combine (12), so it came as no surprise when a three-ring circus of NFL personnel and credentialed media showed up on Wednesday to witness the Trojans' annual early-April pro day workout.

Coaches and scouts were particularly interested in the workouts of five potential first-round picks: OLB Keith Rivers, DT Sedrick Ellis, TE Fred Davis, OT Sam Baker and DE Lawrence Jackson. Rivers (ankle) and Baker (MCL sprain) were working out for the first time as injuries prevented them from participating at the combine.

Rivers understandably did not run the three-cone drill because of the bad ankle, but he did blaze a pair of impressive 40-yard dashes in 4.51 and 4.55 seconds. Those are excellent times considering he weighed 241 pounds at the combine. In fact, Georgia Tech's Gary Guyton and Kentucky's Wesley Woodyard were the only two linebackers to post better times at the combine.

Even more impressive was Rivers' 42-inch vertical jump. To put that number in perspective, the highest vertical jump recorded at the combine was Guyton's jump of 36½ inches. Rivers struggled a bit catching the ball but still had an excellent overall showing, only adding to the interest shown by the New Orleans Saints (No. 10 overall selection) and Denver Broncos (No. 12).

Ellis also delivered a strong day after a subpar showing at the combine. He improved his 40 time from 5.32 at the combine to 5.00 on campus -- quicker than No. 1 DT Glenn Dorsey (5.14) despite being 12 pounds heavier than Dorsey -- and Ellis notched seven more reps on the bench. In addition, Ellis showed the same kind of hand speed, mental toughness and stamina Dorsey displayed at LSU's pro day. In fact, we have never seen Kansas City defensive line coach Tim Krumrie work out a player as hard as he worked Ellis.

So hard, actually, that USC head coach Pete Carroll stormed over and used some colorful language to let Krumrie know some drills Kumrie used would never be run at USC's pro day again. Apparently, he didn't think they had any value in terms of evaluating a football player's skill set. Still, there is now much speculation that the Chiefs could take Ellis at No. 5 overall. We still think that Dorsey is the top defensive tackle prospect in this class based on film evaluations, but his pro day performance solidified Ellis as the No. 2.

Davis participated in the bench press and position-specific drills at the combine but saved the running and jumping for pro day. He appeared to be in excellent shape and the proof was in the pudding, as he ran 4.60 and 4.65 in the 40. Davis would have had the fifth-best time for a tight end at the combine and that should be good enough to make him the first tight tend to come off the board come draft day.

And don't look now, but Jackson could be moving into the late-first round range as well. He recorded a 34½ inch vertical today, more than three inches better than his combine showing, which is excellent explosiveness for a 271-pound defensive end.

Baker, meanwhile, continues to slip down draft boards after running 5.41 and 5.54. He looked sluggish and that's a big concern for him because on film he is a finesse blocker who uses his quickness to get into position. And while Baker hasn't looked terrible during position drills he hasn't wowed scouts, either. Teams interested in taking a tackle in the first two rounds will have to investigate Baker's knee injury to determine what role, if any, it played in his weak pro day showing and then revisit his film.

QB John David Booty, who ran a 4.92 at the combine, did not run at USC's pro day and followed the lead of other top quarterback prospects by participating only in throwing drills. The workout went as well as we expected it would with Booty showing a quick release and above-average accuracy, affirming my belief that is best fit in the NFL will be with a team that runs a West Coast offense. On the flip side, he didn't show a strong enough arm to give his draft stock much of a boost and it's worth noting that he threw with the wind at his back. With that in mind Booty remains a late-third or fourth-round pick.

As well as other players performed, though, the most impressive numbers of the day came from RB Chauncey Washington, who who weighed 211 pounds at the combine and ran 4.35 and 4.42 on campus. Had he posted that 4.35 at the combine he would have ranked fourth among running backs. Washington's inability to stay academically eligible during the 2004 and 2005, though, is going still going to raise red flags for teams looking to draft a running back later in the draft. And it doesn't help that he spent his fair share of time in Carroll's doghouse, either.

However, there is a difference between academic smarts and football smarts and it is our understanding that Washington is a student of the game and a hard worker on the field. It's also worth pointing out that Carroll and the Trojans thought enough of him to make him the primary back during his senior season despite having one of the most talented running back stables in the country. The bottom line is that Washington is a talented back whose stock appears to be rising at exactly the right time.

A handful of other schools held their on-campus showcases last week and we have the highlights and lowlights from those workouts as well:

North Carolina Tar Heels (April 1)
Kentwan Balmer, another potential first-round defensive tackle, went through the paces one day prior to Ellis' workout. Balmer, who weighed 308 pounds at the combine, appeared to be in excellent shape despite recently dealing with a lingering hamstring injury. He showed great hand speed and endurance during position drills and also improved his combine vertical by three inches to 32. However, the hamstring injury did cause him to pull up short on his second 40 attempt. Balmer's injury history isn't ideal, but the hamstring doesn't appear to be a substantial concern and should have no impact on his draft status. In fact, now that Dorsey, Ellis and Balmer have all had strong showings at their respective pro days they are entrenched as the top three defensive tackles in this class.

Arkansas State Indians (March 31)
S Tyrell Johnson (5-11⅞, 202) turned in one of the most impressive showings by a defensive back at the combine and continued to turn heads during his recent pro day. His vertical jump (39 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-8) were outstanding, and Johnson also displayed soft hands and quick feet for his size during position drills. .Representatives from nine teams were on hand to watch the on-campus workout, and after studying more game tape and analyzing all of the numbers, we have given Johnson the second-highest grade in this year's weak crop of safeties.

UNLV Runnin' Rebels (March 31)
Beau Bell was a versatile and productive linebacker during his days at UNLV and was one of the fastest-rising prospects during the fall. But momentum quickly shifted once the pre-draft process kicked off. Bell looked overwhelmed during early Senior Bowl practices and then suffered a bruised knee that would sideline him during the game and prevent him working out at the combine. As a result, some scouts questioned his toughness. Unfortunately for Bell, a recent on-campus workout for 50 or so scouts only added to the problems.

At nearly 6-foot-2 and 239 pounds, Bell had subpar showings in the 40-yard dash, short shuttle and vertical jump. While he plays faster than his results might indicate Bell looked stiff in coverage drills and, as one scout described it, "his legs went to Jell-O" halfway through the workout. Once considered a potential second-round pick, Bell's nightmare of a postseason should cause him to slip at least one full round in the upcoming draft.

Kansas State Wildcats ( March 28)
WR Jordy Nelson's draft temperature is heating up as April 26 approaches. Nelson's production speaks for itself -- 122 receptions for 1,606 yards and 11 scores as a senior -- and it doesn't take long in to pick up on his excellent combination of size, hands and route-running skills on film. Nelson is a smooth athlete but coaches and scouts are having difficulty pinpointing his top-end speed. He shows flashes of home run ability, such as when he blew past probable first-round CB Aqib Talib on a sideline route in 2007. However, Nelson doesn't always show a second gear on vertical routes and after the catch and he opted not to run again at Kansas State's recent pro day after recording a solid but unspectacular 4.51 at the combine.

Of the 14 NFL teams on hand to witness his on-campus workout, three sent their wide receiver coaches to get a closer look and outside of his decision not to run the general consensus is that Nelson's overall workout was extremely impressive. While his lack of ideal explosiveness is likely to keep him out of the top 45 picks, at least a couple of teams will consider Nelson late in the second round.

Northern Iowa Panthers (March 27)
An unusual number of NFL teams -- 22 in all -- sent representatives to Northern Iowa's. The reason? A pair of intriguing Day 2 offensive linemen in Chad Rinehart and Brandon Keith. Rinehart is the higher-rated of the two prospects and he displayed superior balance and technique during position drills that both took part in. Keith made up some ground, however, by outperforming Rinehart in most of the running and jumping sessions. At 6-5 and 345 pounds, Keith ran outstanding 40 times of 4.99 and 4.98 while also leaping 9-5 in the broad and 32 in the vertical. Rinehart (6-5¼, 311) ran a faster time in the short shuttle but was nearly three-tenths of a second slower on his 40s, seven inches shorter on his broad jump and three inches shorter on his vertical jump.

Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998. Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench also contributed to this report

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Old 04-03-2008, 07:28 PM   #2
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Re: Interesting USC proday article...

Who is this Keith Rivers? LOL... OH the next Saint LB.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:49 PM   #3
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Re: Interesting USC proday article...

Keith "Mississippi" Rivers ...... "Don't try to cross him..." LOL
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:36 PM   #4
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Re: Interesting USC proday article...

Good stuff, good post, great read.
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