- I can confirm Jimmie Ward/DB/Northern Illinois was not cleared to participate in Tuesday’s combine workout after being diagnosed with a Jones fracture in his foot. Its considered a mid/small fracture; in a nutshell I’m told it’s a less severe version of what Julio Jones worked out with several years ago. The injury will be resolved with a simple procedure after the NIU pro-day. I’m told Ward, who felt ready to go earlier this week despite being pulled from the workout by combine officials, plans on fully participating in the NIU pro-day next week.
- Jimmy Garoppolo/QB/Eastern Illinois, who solidified himself as a second rounder last week and already has five pre-draft visits with NFL teams on his schedule , will participate in Northwestern’s pro-day next week. I’m told Garoppolo’s favorite receiver, Erik Lora will also workout that day. EIU does not have a pro-day on the schedule.
- At last count at least 17 quarterback coaches polled at the combine rank Derek Carr over Johnny Manziel.
- Iowa linebacker Christian Kirksey did not run at the combine due to hamstring issues but is expected to fully participate at the Hawkeyes pro-day later next month.
- Oklahoma fullback Trey Millard won’t do any type of workout prior to the draft. There was a thought he could push something out the last week of April but the final choice was smartly made to hold him back.
- On Sunday I reported sources told me the Cincinnati Bengals may have to consider cutting Carlos Dunlap in order to create room to sign other highly considered players, mainly Michael Johnson who the Bengals really want to bring back. I was then referred to as brain dead, inbred and other sorts of complimentary adjectives. Hence I went back to my source for clarification and was told yes, the organization has in fact had conversations about potentially cutting Carlos Dunlap or at least attempting to restructure his contract. I’m told the way Dunlap’s contract is structured the team has until March 30th to make a decision.
-If you followed my Combine Risers/Sliders articles on Philadelphia Eagles.com last week you’ll notice I gave Joel Bitonio of Nevada high grades for his workout on Saturday. This should not come as a surprise as I spoke highly of Bitonio during Senior Bowl week on both the Eagles and Green Bay Packers official sites. I’ve learned two things about Bitonio since Saturday; 1) the feeling is he’s cemented himself as a second round pick and 2) he’s going to be drafted at offensive guard and not a tackle. The latter surprised me a bit. Though I initially graded Bitonio as a guard I thought his performance at the Senior Bowl, primarily the fact he was the only one able to stop Dee Ford, would’ve given him more consideration at left tackle.
- Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles is receiving high marks for his interviews at the combine. Several people I spoke with feel that’s only going to get better during pro-day and individual workouts when teams have the opportunity to sit down and challenge him on the chalk board. Remember, Bortles shouldered much of the decision making in the UCF offense.
- I’m told Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans is a real possibility for the New York Giants with the draft’s 12th selection if available. The team is expected to lose veteran wide out Hakeen Nicks to free agency and there’s not much production on the depth chart after Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle. I’m also told if one of the top offensive tackles (Greg Robinson or Taylor Lewan) happen to slip to the 12th pick the Giants would look in that direction. Otherwise expect the team to initially look for guards in free agency.
- Staying on the free agency theme, I was told this evening its unlikely the Oakland Raiders strike a deal with running back Darren McFadden before the deadline. That said, I was assured McFadden and the Raiders will continue to have a dialogue once free agency starts as the ball carrier speaks with different organizations.
- I’m told Branden Albert may not be the only veteran offensive lineman out the door in Kansas City. The way it looks now back-up Geoff Schwartz, who received heavy interest at the combine, will likely sign elsewhere.
Jimmie Ward will not be taking part in Tuesday’s defensive backs workout. Routine Combine medical evaluations revealed a foot issue. Ward is still awaiting more to the exact nature of the injury, and initial reports are the injury is considered relatively minor.
Combine medical procedures dictate that Ward not be allowed to participate even if he wanted to (similar to Austin Sefarian-Jenkins). Like Sefarian-Jenkins, the situation is surprising in that the player had been running and training without any discomfort, or indication of an injury. Ward came to Indianapolis planning to fully take part in Tuesday’s showcase. Ward had been working out at the same facility as Jadeveon Clowney and Jerick McKinnon, two players who’ve exceeded expectations the past two days in combine workouts.
As first reported Thursday, Ward was expected to perform extremely well in all areas of Tuesday’s on field workout. In fact, Ward has been consistently running 40 times in the 4.4s. Multiple teams have Ward behind only Calvin Pryor and HaHa Clinton-Dix among the safety population.
- I’m told the Arizona Cardinals will make a big run at Branden Albert if he hits free agency as expected. If they don’t come away with Albert sources say the Cardinals will look offensive tackle in round one.
- If the Seattle Seahawks had their choice of player with the last pick of round one it would likely be Odell Beckham Jr. Chances are Beckham won’t be available to the Seahawks at the end of the first frame. I’m told look for the Seahawks to go offensive line heavy in the draft.
- Word at the combine has the Dallas Cowboys going defensive front seven early and often in the draft. Word is Aaron Donald is a possibility for the team in round one.
- I’m told another team that looking for defensive line help during the early part of the draft are the San Diego Chargers. The only exception will be if a top rated secondary prospect is available to them.
- How impressive was Jerick McKinnon’s workout yesterday? Its likely to improve his draft stock anywhere from two-to-three rounds. This morning sources told me they feel McKinnon has cemented himself as a fourth round pick and could break into the third frame. A few teams now rate McKinnon as the fifth running back on their boards.