Notes from around the country as players continue to prepare for the NFL combine, which is just two weeks away. Who looks good and who’s slacking off? What about those who unexpectedly did not receive an invitation to Indianapolis- what are they up to these days? And who is the CFL star the Pittsburgh Steelers are working out this week? We have the answers to all these questions tonight.
- Fresno State running back Ryan Matthews has been scorching the turf in Westlake, California as he prepares for the combine. Sources told us Matthews, who recently weighed in at 216-pounuds, has consistently run in the mid 4.3’s, with a fast time of 4.35 seconds this week. He’s turned in a vertical jump best of 37-inches and has completed a best of 22 reps on the bench. Matthews has been working exclusively with Travelle Gaines who lists Reggie Bush and Chris Johnson as just two of his recent success stories. Scouts we’ve spoken with say of all the top backs in this draft they view Matthews as the most complete. He’s sturdier than Jahvid Best, better running to the outside compared to Jonathan Dwyer and much tougher than CJ Spiller. It could all end up with Matthews being selected much earlier than most people expect.
- Also out in Westlake, TCU offensive lineman Robert Newhouse has turned in some impressive workouts recently. Newhouse ran under 4.8-seconds this week after tipping the scales at 325-pounds.
- There have been some fast times in Florida, where a number of highly rated players are training. Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee has made good on his Senior Bowl prediction to us and was recently timed at 4.31 seconds in the forty.
- Ohio receiver Taylor Price also clocked the same time in the forty, 4.31 seconds, in recent workouts. Sources have told us Price posted a 37-inch vertical jump, ran 3.93 seconds in the 20 yard shuttle and has consistently completed between 15-to-18 reps on the bench. It must be noted the forty’s of both Ghee and Price were run on grass.
- Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell is also at the same facility as the two seniors and according to sources has been dominating the workouts, looking big and athletic. Campbell recently ran as fast as 4.75 seconds in the forty.
- Jason Pierre-Paul has been described to us as a “sick athlete” and is expected to turn in a great combine based on what many have seen thus far. Many feel after the combine Pierre-Paul will secure himself as a top 15 pick in April’s draft- we presently rank the South Florida junior number eight on our big board. The word in Florida is Pierre-Paul has also missed a few workouts as he has spent a bit of time partying. The same has been said, but to a much larger degree, about his college teammate Jerome Murphy who is presently training with Pierre-Paul.
- NCAA record setting receiver Freddie Barnes is training in West Palm Beach, Florida. Barnes did not receive an invitation to the combine and was never really in the conversation for the event, sources have told us. The realization from the Barnes camp is the sure handed pass catcher must run in the 4.5’s if he stands a chance of getting drafted in the later rounds. Barnes will workout for scouts at the BGSU pro-day on March 16th.
- Another non-combine player preparing for pro-day is Tennessee tight end Jeff Cottam. The big tight end has measured 6-feet, 8-inches and 270-pounds and according to sources has run forty times under 4.6 seconds. Cottam struggled with back and leg injuries prior to the 2009 season then fell out of favor with the departed Lane Kiffin, and rarely saw the field last season. Many feel he could be a late round sleeper or even a free agent surprise.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers are bringing in CFL linebacker Renauld Williams for a workout on Friday of this week and insiders say the team could sign him before he leaves town. Williams played his college football at Hofstra before seeing action with four NFL clubs, including the Miami Dolphins. Williams had 59 tackles and three sacks for the Saskatchewan Roughriders this season.