Almost two dozen teams were on hand to watch receiver Cody Latimer workout at Indiana. The group included receiver coaches from the San Francisco 49ers, St Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins. As posted yesterday head coach Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur of the Philadelphia Eagles were also onlookers. The majority of the workout was run by Eagles receivers coach Bob Bicknell. Latimer’s receiver teammate, Kofi Hughes also took part in the drills. After the workout Latimer met with most of the coaches on hand doing a bit of classroom work and spent extensive time with the 49ers
New England Patriots assistant Mike Lombardi worked out several Coastal Carolina prospects today including receiver Matt Hazel, halfback/fullback Lorenzo Taliaferro as well as linebacker Mike McClure.
As posted yesterday, the New York Jets traveled to Clemson and worked out quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Roderick McDowell and linebacker Quandon Christian as well as tight end Brandon Ford from the 2013 draft class. I’m told the Jets sent their quarterback coach to the workout for Boyd. For weeks I’ve been alerted that the Jets, specifically head coach Rex Ryan, really likes Boyd. In fact Ryan told Boyd during Clemson’s pro-day he would try and find a way to pick him up during the draft. With three compensatory picks in the sixth round its easy to see Boyd being selected by the franchise.
Keep an eye on Quandon Christian. Prior to the season I thought highly of the linebacker and stamped him as a potential 7th round prospect. He seemed to fall out of favor in 2013 and won’t get drafted but has skills and is the type of player that will surprise everyone in camp this summer.
Finally from Clemson, I’m told there is already a lot of blowback from the Brandon Thomas injury with agents picking and choosing which individual workouts their players will take part in. Its understandable as Thomas has no means to recoup his losses as there are presently no policies in place to reimburse draftable prospects who are injured during pro-day or individual workouts, as infrequent as it happens. Thankfully for Thomas his representatives purchased a health policy to cover medical costs but I’m told there’s nothing to reimburse him for rehabilitation costs or the income he’ll lose by being selected later in the draft. Look for changes moving forward.
Quarterback Tyler Russell put on a passing clinic for the Patriots, Packers and Chiefs yesterday during his workout at Mississippi State. His deep passes were on the money and Russell was also accurate with short and intermediate throws. One beneficiary of yesterday’s workout was running back LaDarius Perkins, who really impressed scouts with his pass catching skills.
Mississippi State defensive lineman Denico Autry has made official visits to see the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots.
Staying with the Detroit Lions, they also brought in wide receiver/return specialist Erik Lora of Eastern Illinois who’ll likely slide into the later rounds.
I’m told the San Diego Chargers rank center Corey Linsley higher than most other teams and could use a middle round pick to acquire the Ohio State product.
More and more teams are looking to plug traditional 4-3 outside linebackers on the inside of a 3-4 alignment. As posted on Twitter earlier, the Philadelphia Eagles visited Christian Kirksey earlier this week with designs on using him at ILB in their system. Arizona State outside linebacker Carl Bradford is getting the same consideration as is Kyle Van-Noy of BYU, the highest rated of the three. Van Noy looks like a solid second round choice in two weeks and is receiving the greatest amount of interest from the Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens. Half those teams project Van Noy to the inside.
Though I stamped him with a third round grade trusted sources tell me Demarcus Lawrence won’t get out of the second frame. They point to his natural pass rushing skills and the ability to play standing up over tackle or with his hand in the dirt, as well as the fact the talent at pass rusher really falls off after the second round. I personally disagree with the last part and feel Prince Shembo, Ronald Powell, Devon Kennard and Kasim Edebali are last day prospects who can fill the pass rushing role as well as small school free agent types such as Colton Underwood and Anthony Larry.
Contrary to recent published reports I’ve been informed Cyrus Kouandjio is not a first round target for Miami Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey. In fact I was told the team won’t consider him in the first frame due to medical red-flags. It seems Zack Martin is the object of their desire but the team does not expect the Notre Dame product to be available when they are called to the clock in round one. Who then? Sources seem to think Hickey will attempt to trade down if the opportunity arises. If they are able to trade down Joel Bitonio, a name that keeps popping up in the late first/early second round area, is a player they like. The Dolphins did hold a private workout with Bitonio.
No defensive lineman has moved up draft boards faster than Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh. So the question is where will Donald end up? I’m told the talented lineman could be selected as early as the 6th pick or as late as the 16th choice. The Atlanta Falcons own the sixth selection and the feeling is if the quarterbacks fall and none of the top offensive tackles or pass rushers are available at the selection they could look in Donald’s direction. I’m told the New York Giants will consider Donald at 12 as will the Chicago Bears at 14. If Donald somehow lasts to the 16th pick it will be manna from heaven for the Dallas Cowboys. I was told weeks ago Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli expressed to Donald the desire to draft him during combine interviews. There are many reasons for Donald’s rise but as one source pointed out none are greater than the interior pass rush he brings to the field.
Tomorrow, Friday the 25th, at least 23 teams will travel to Bloomington, Indiana for the on campus workout of receiver Cody Latimer. At least twelve wide receiver coaches are expected to be on hand as will Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and Pat Shurmur, the teams offensive coordinator. Latimer was recently worked out by Carolina Panthers receiver coach Ricky Proehl. There’s little debate that Latimer is the fastest riser at the receiver position. I’ve spoken with several sources who tell me he won’t get out of round two and could surprise late in round one. There are a number of reasons for his ascent but the two things I continue to hear as the biggest factors are 1) his 4.43s forty time at pro-day and 2) the way Latimer consistently wins out for contested passes.
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.