As posted earlier on twitter, for a second time the Carolina Panthers will be working out Fresno State receiver Davante Adams. I’m told the top two receiver targets for the Panthers are Brandin Cooks of Oregon State and Marqise Lee of USC but it’s unlikely either will be available when they are called to the clock in round one. Adams has also made visits to see the Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers and Atlanta Falcons besides working out for the Tennessee Titans.
Last week I mentioned Morgan Moses as a possibility for the Panthers in round one. I’ve been alerted the team is also very high on Nevada offensive lineman Joel Bitonio, whom they’ve traveled to visit on two separate occasions. Would they take Bitonio in round one? The senior has been gaining momentum in scouting circles as teams feel he can start at both tackle or guard positions from the early stages of his NFL career and there’s a good possibility he’s off the board early in round two at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also enamored with his skills.
One of the forgotten and underrated defensive line prospects in this year’s draft is Oregon’s Taylor Hart, whom we project as a fourth round choice. Hart is returning to Indianapolis on Friday for the combine recheck so doctors can re-examine his previously injured foot, which I’m told is fine. The teams showing the most interest in Hart are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles with Philly being his only visit to date. Sources characterize Hart as a plug and play type of defensive lineman, which I would agree with and while a coupling with former Ducks head coach Chip Kelly in Philadelphia is intriguing, he seems like a natural fit for the Steelers. Hart is not a prospect that wows you on film but a player who will be a coaches favorite at the next level based on his intelligent, disciplined style.
Speaking of the Indianapolis Colts, the team brought in Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward for a visit. The Washington Redskins also brought Southward in.
The talk of the quarterback position the past few weeks has centered around Tom Savage of Pittsburgh. So what’s the inside story? Ever since the combine I’ve known the New England Patriots have been incredibly high on Savage and will consider using a pick to acquire the signal caller during the draft. Some in the organization are now referring to Savage as “Tom #2”, with Tom #1 of course being Tom Brady. I’m told Savage impressed the franchise during combine interviews, especially when former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano was on hand. Evidently Savage took responsibility for the 2011 situation when he left the Rutgers football program, which was then headed by Schiano. Both the Patriots and Schiano were impressed by Savage’s maturity in discussing his departure. Teams who’ve studied tape on Savage from last season broke it into halves and feel the second half of the campaign, when the signal caller lessened his mistakes and improved his accuracy, is the next level prospect they can build upon.
The New England Patriots have been closely inspecting tight ends in the lead up to the draft and a name fans of the team should keep an eye on is Richard Rodgers. The Cal tight end has worked out for the Patriots, Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders. Teams are using Rodgers father, Carolina Panthers special teams coordinator Richard Rodgers Sr., as a source of information on the tight end prospect.
Staying in the PAC 12, I’m told linebacker Shayne Skov struggled to break 5.2-seconds in the forty when he ran for scouts, further angering people. Skov did not participate in the Senior Bowl, combine or Stanford’s pro-day due to reported injury, and scouts were forced to make a special trip to watch him run/workout. One scout commented Skov would’ve been better off had he not run at all.
I’m told the way it stands now, today’s trip to see the Cleveland Browns is the final official visit for Blake Bortles.
- Last year, prior to the combine, I mentioned Travis Frederick was being whispered about as the surprise pick of round one (found here in the April 12th notes). After his combine workout (has he completed the forty yet?) I never bothered to follow up. Foolish me. This year I’m told another center, Weston Richburg of Colorado State, (scouting report) could be the surprise pick in round one. Its a thin class at the center position and the feeling is if you need one Richburg is the guy and you better grab him early. His smart, athletic and fundamentally sound play is drawing comparisons to Pro-Bowl center Nick Mangold. Who would take Richburg at the end of the first frame? I’m told for a variety of reasons keep an eye on the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and Denver Broncos. The Jacksonville Jaguars are candidates for Richburg at the top of round two.
- Virginia tackle Morgan Moses (scouting report) is also a possibility in the late part of round one and his value has increased after the injury to Brandon Thomas. Its not that Thomas would have been selected before Moses rather the injury precludes a team passing on Moses with the hopes of getting Thomas a round later. I’m told the Carolina Panthers could grab Moses late in round one and many think he won’t get past the Washington Redskins in the second frame.
- Another tackle the Washington Redskins are seriously interested in is Cameron Fleming (scouting report) of Stanford. Fleming has worked out for the Carolina Panthers as well as the Atlanta Falcons. He’s also completed a workout/visit for the Tennessee Titans. I’m told not only not only did Fleming score an impressive 33 on the wonderlic but one of the above mentioned teams gave him a 20 question quiz which he answered in less than one minute and scored 100%.
- After his knee injury where will Brandon Thomas fall? We presently grade Thomas as a 4th rounder in our tackle rankings and have been told he will likely drop to the fourth/fifth round area.
- With the media focused on the higher rated quarterbacks, Keith Wenning of Ball State is drawing a good amount of interest from teams. He’s had 8 visits and an additional 8 workouts. Those who’ve worked Wenning out or brought him in for a visit include the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, St Louis Rams and New England Patriots. The braintrust for the Cleveland Browns privately worked out Wenning.
- Sources close to the team say if Calvin Pryor/S/Louisville drops into the second day he is a priority for the Detroit Lions.
– Consensus is Mike Evans/WR/Texas A&M is a lock to be a top ten pick. Several teams feel the spread between he and Sammy Watkins of Clemson is not a great as many are making it out to be, something I completely agree with. Based on conversations its my educated “guess” the team who selects Evans will make a trade to acquire his services . Right now it looks like three teams are the frontrunners to make some sort of move for Evans. If the St Louis Rams trade out of the second spot, and they will make every effort to do as much, Evans would be a target assuming they stay in the top ten. Two teams selecting in the middle of the first frame who are very high on Evans and would consider trading up to grab him are the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens.
– Now that DeSean Jackson is no longer with the organization receiver becomes a need for the Philadelphia Eagles. With the way this draft shapes up a receiver in round one is a likely possibility if they stand pat at pick 22. I’ve mentioned Brandin Cooks of Oregon State being a good fit for the team and I understand he’ll be a consideration in round one. The other wide out I expect to get play from the Eagles is Marquis Lee of USC.
– Several teams presently grade Zach Martin of Notre Dame ahead of Michigan’s Taylor Lewan. For the record I disagree and feel Lewan is the most underappreciated of the top tackles. I’m told Martin offers potential at four spots on the offensive line, both tackle and guard spots, and is less prone to making mental mistakes compared to Lewan.
– For some reason people seem to be sleeping on Phillip Gaines, the big bodied cornerback from Rice who stunned scouts by clocking as fast as 4.31s in the forty at the combine. Gaines had dinner with the Jacksonville Jaguars last month the evening before his pro-day and has trips lined up with the New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. He’s also worked out with the Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Bucs. Gaines is presently rated as a fifth rounder on our cornerback board.
– On Tuesday evening I reported the New England Patriots worked out Virginia Tech prospects Logan Thomas and DJ Coles. There’s some additional insight on this workout. The feeling league wide is the Patriots will take a quarterback at some point in the draft as they expect to lose Ryan Mallett at the end of next season, hence the interest in Thomas. As far as Coles is concerned, I’m told the Patriots had him do a lot of tight end work during the 45 minutes spent in position drills. This included coming out of a three point stance, blocking drills and lining up in the slot. Consider this; Coles measures in the area of 6-feet/3-inches and 235 pounds, timing in the high 4.4s in the forty. When the Patriots selected Aaron Hernandez his official measurements went 6-feet, 2.5-inches, 245lbs with a 4.58s forty time. Something to think about.
– Prior to the news he had torn a knee ligament during a workout with the New Orleans Saints, Brandon Thomas/OL/Clemson had official visits set up with the Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers as well as workouts with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants. Obviously the workouts are nixed and I’ve received no word on the visits.
– One offensive lineman on the mend, Spencer Long of Nebraska, is scheduled to hold a private workout on April 17th in which he’ll be doing offensive line drills. Long could end up being selected much earlier (4th round) than people presently project.
- Scouts were very impressed with Towson running back Terrance West during his pro-day workout earlier this week. In miserable conditions of pouring rain and cold weather, West tipped the scale at 230-pounds (five more than the combine) then looked good in drills. A number of the teams looking for a bigger back feel West has solidified himself as a fourth round choice.
– West was not the only one to turn heads during Towson’s pro-day. Cornerback Jordan Love, a free agent sleeper with a real chance as a dime back/special teams player at the next level, measured 5107/190lbs then timed 4.46s in the forty, 6.89 in the 3 cone and 4.00 in the short shuttle.
- I reported earlier Larry Webster spent the bulk of his time at Bloomsburg pro-day participating in tight end drills. The reviews have been positive. Though Webster showed some stiffness at his new position he caught the ball with his hands away from his frame rather than body catching. Webster has tremendous physical skills but scouts question his heart, something apparent on film. Webster does not play with the warrior mentality nor always look like the most competitive guy on the field.
- I’m told besides working out Rutgers receivers Brandon Coleman and Quron Pratt today, the Philadelphia Eagles had both Kelvin Benjamin/WR/Florida State and Cody Latimer/WR/Indiana at their facility for an official visit.
– Add the San Diego Chargers to the list of teams bringing in Cody Latmer/WR/Indiana in for an official 30 visit. While most feel the Chargers will look for a true burner in the draft there’s some concern about depth at the receiver position with questions surrounding the Malcolm Floyd and Danario Alexander.
– The San Diego Chargers are also bringing in New Mexico offensive lineman Darryl Johnson, who primarily lined up at both left and right tackle for the Lobos but projects to guard in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints will be working out Johnson, who has next level size as well as athleticism and should, at the very least, be a practice squad developmental prospect.
– Even before today’s pro-day workout at Towson running back Terrance West had already worked out for the Atlanta Falcons and made an official visit to see the Tennessee Titans. I’m told the Minnesota Vikings are also interested in the record setting ball carrier. The belief right now is Tennessee would be the frontrunner to select West.
- John Ulrich, a sleeper offensive tackle from Georgia State who recently ran 4.93s in the forty at 290lbs during a regional combine, has trips lined up to see the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks.
– Last week sources told me they expect an offensive tackle heavy draft from the Seattle Seahawks next month. The hope is to select a versatile edge blocker as protection in case the team cannot resign Russell Okung when his contract is up in two years.
– Even with their recent moves in free agency I’m told the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope to come out of the draft with at least one offensive tackle and/or offensive guard with starting potential. The Bucs want versatility and a blocker who can handle multiple positions.
– After his terrific performance at pro-day last week I was informed Chaz Sutton/DE-OLB/South Carolina met with both the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders.
- Earlier this week I reported that insiders informed me the Minnesota Vikings hope to select one of the higher rated linebackers early in round one (Khalil Mack being their preference) then grab their quarterback in round two. Zach Mettenberger being their signal caller of choice. Since then more sources have confirmed my report, verifying the team is high on Mettenberger who they believe is a perfect fit for Norv Turner’s system. Depending on how he does at pro-day next week many question if Mettenberger will even be available to Minnesota in round two.
- Who could take Mettenberger before the Vikings are called on the clock in round two? The Cleveland Browns, that’s who. While many have the Browns taking a quarterback with the fourth pick of the draft, most believe they’ll nab a signal caller with either the 26th or 35th pick of the process. If they don’t go quarterback in round one where does Cleveland look? Most believe it will be offensive tackle. Several sources tell me the team is hot and cold on Mitchell Schwartz and will look for an upgrade. In fact I’m told the Browns made a play for Eugene Monroe when he was on the trading block. Many claim “you don’t draft a right tackle with a top ten pick” but looking at the versatility and interchangeability of the tackle prospects excepted to be available at fourth pick its understandable why any team would go that route.
- Back to Zach Mettenberger. I’m told its very unlikely he’ll do any of the shuttles, 3-cone, etc, next week at pro-day but will complete a full passing workout. In recent weeks Mettenberger has had no issues on sprint outs or roll outs in preparation for his workout.
- Word in scouting circles has Dakota Dozier of Furman building momentum for himself recently. Scouts point to way Dozier stepped up against better competition the past two seasons, specifically mentioning the game film against LSU and Clemson. I’m told Dozier has had private workouts with the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Thus far the reviews from private workouts have been positive for Logan Thomas. For example, last week when the Arizona Cardinals worked him out I’m told he was accurate on all his throws including dropping a few in the bucket deep downfield to end the workout. From a physical and character stand point Thomas continues to impress teams.
- The other prospect impressing scouts in these workouts is DJ Coles, who benefits from being the practice receiver for Logan Thomas. Coles is physically impressive and very much looks the part. He’s been looking sharp since pro-day. Injuries stunted Coles development but go back and watch his 2011 tape if you have the availability and you’ll see the makings of a legitimate NFL receiver.
- Scouts are still buzzing over the performance of Ben Gardner during Stanford’s pro-day. Teams believe Gardner could develop into a Jarret Johnson type of player, i.e. a college defensive end with decent size who’ll stand up over tackle in a 3-4 at the next level.
- I’m told Johnson’s present squad, the San Diego Chargers, worked out Akron offensive lineman Jarrod Pughsley today. Pughsley, who lined up primarily at tackle for the Zips, is a fairly athletic blocker who projects to guard at the next level.