NFL Draft Grapevine
From KFFL E-Wire:
NFL Draft Grapevine
By Cory J. Bonini, Edited by Jeffrey Anderson
The 2006 National Football League Scouting Combine is now behind us, so who benefited most and who hurt their draft stock equally? Did several of the prized prospects harm their value by not working out and opting for their Pro Day workouts instead? The answers to these questions and more will be answered in this edition of KFFL's Draft Grapevine.
From a media standpoint, Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler was the biggest winner of the combine with Maryland TE Vernon Davis being right up there as well. We will take a deeper look at Cutler under the next heading, as he really wasn't a true winner in terms of rising stock.
Davis ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, which was the quickest time for the position in the history of the event. He proved to be a top 10 talent regardless of position, but does that mean the former Terrapin will be selected in that range? Arguably the only team with a true need for the tight end position who can draft him that highly is the St. Louis Rams at No. 11 overall. New head coach Scott Linehan prefers to utilize the tight end in his offense, which cannot be said of Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green. Many mock drafts point to the Cardinals selecting Davis, though it just doesn't make any sense on the utilization level. Arizona surely has more pressing needs to address than to add another receiving target to an already impressive stable of talent. Currently, the most logical place for Davis to land is with the Denver Broncos at No. 22 overall. Clearly if this happens it will be a bargain for the ages for head coach Mike Shanahan's crew.
Alabama QB Brodie Croyle reportedly wowed scouts so much he should move into the late second or early third round. Prior to the combine his value was expected to be at its best in the fifth or sixth rounds of the draft. As it stands, several undisclosed teams are reportedly interested in Croyle as a two-to-three year grooming project, which could be just what he needs to eventually bloom at the pro level.
Speaking of mid-round quarterbacks helping their own cause, Northwestern's Brett Basanez impressed a lot of scouts despite his smallish stature (6-1 1/2, 210 pounds) for a gunslinger. Many teams interviewed Basanez and came away very intrigued, per one source KFFL spoke with. Known for his intelligence as well as good character, he was quite productive with Northwestern. In 2005 alone he threw for a 63.2 completion percentage, 3,622 passing yards, 21 touchdowns to just eight interceptions while adding 423 rushing yards and seven more scores on the ground. Not quite a major rushing threat in the mold of Texas' Vince Young, Basanez is surely capable of evading the rush and buying time with is feet. Look for some team in need of a quality backup passer to use a fifth- or sixth-round pick on him and not be disappointed.
Oklahoma OG Davin Joseph helped his stock considerably with his workout. Measuring in at 6-2, 304 pounds, the former Sooner impressed with a 5.09 40-yard dash time. Joseph, a former high school state wrestling champion, feels the Miami Dolphins would be a good fit for him. He may just get his wish if the team is able to land a free-agent quarterback prize in the mold of Drew Brees (San Diego Chargers) allowing them to not burn a pick on a quarterback prospect. A former scout KFFL spoke with noted Joseph to be the top player at his position for the upcoming draft.
Others of Note
California-Los Angeles RB Maurice Drew was impressive in all phases of his combine adventure. He ran great and was able to move up from the third round to the second in the eyes of many scouts, per one source KFFL spoke with.
Despite not participating in the mill of events, Southern California QB Matt Leinart and teammate RB Reggie Bush wowed scouts with their respective intelligence. One source used the term "blown away" in reference to how well-received the duo's interviews were taken. As long as neither player bombs at their Pro Day workout, both should remain locked into the first three picks.
South Carolina safety Ko Simpson reportedly has locked himself into the No. 2 safety spot on the draft boards of most scouts due to his speed, according to one source close to the situation.
Florida State CB Antonio Cromartie (knee, hamstring) participated during the combine activities after sitting out the 2005 season while recovering from a torn hamstring, medial collateral ligament and anterior cruciate ligament. Expect to see a team take a chance on him as high as the middle of the second round during the draft. Had he returned for the 2007 season, the 6-2 1/2, 208-pound cornerback could have likely went as high as the top 10 of the first round with a good showing.
Tennessee CB Jason Allen seemed to put many questions to a rest regarding the health of his dislocated hip by posting a 4.39 time in the 40. He finished second amongst defensive backs with a 10-foot-11 broad jump. One former scout labeled him as a "sure thing" to be a first-round pick.
The Other Side of the Fence
While Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler is drawing more hype than a bout between former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and an orangutan in a vat of purple Jell-O would get on an episode of Jerry Springer, his draft stock isn't likely to change for the better or worse. The former Commodore passer wowed many scouts with his arm strength and accuracy during his workout, though his 23 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press also helped him. However, many sources close to the situation have suggested Cutler is not much more than a product of overzealous media looking for someone to hang their hat on - the consummate underdog story. Is Cutler the No. 3 quarterback in the draft class still? Yes. Is Cutler a lock for the top five of the draft? Surely not. Don't get us wrong here, he is still a very promising talent with a bright future ahead of himself, but being the media's darling doesn't always provide the truth.
Wisconsin RB Brian Calhoun, oft-labeled as a speed back, was very disappointed with his 40 time. He wasn't the only disappointed party, as the general consensus from sources close to the situation appears to be his slow times may have dropped him a full round to two rounds in the draft. A speedy back running at a sloth-like pace - not just once - makes many question his overall value. Times of 4.59 and 4.62 are good for most quarterbacks, but they surely are not marquee for a running back. The 5-9, 201-pound former Colorado transfer hopes to rebound at his school's March 8 Pro Day.
Once regarded as a potential stud, Ohio State LB Bobby Carpenter has watched his draft stock slip some, and it has nothing to do with his individual performance. One source KFFL spoke with indicated the former Buckeye to be a solid second-round pick, which is slightly down from the late first-round designation most mocks penned him as. Carpenter may simply fall victim to a deep pool of players at linebacker and several defensive ends who figure to be drafted to convert to linebacker.
Virginia LB Kai Parham didn't do himself any favors, and one former scout noted his drop-off from a potential late-round pick to an undrafted free agent to be a very likely scenario to play out.
Every year at the combine someone posts gaudy numbers to improve their draft stock exponentially. This year we had a few names capable of having such an impact on their draft placement, and we had a few turns south of the border as far as the "help" department goes.
In any event, keep any eye out for an updated post-combine mock draft with explanation from KFFL for the upcoming week's Draft Grapevine article.
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