The quarterbacks and receivers take the field today as do the running backs. But we’re always looking ahead. Here are a few preview notes on tomorrows workout of defensive lineman and linebackers, the latest free agent news as well as our first supplemental draft candidate.
Over the past 24 hours sources have told me two bits of free agency news. The first is the New York Jets will be in the running for Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman James Carpenter. And the second, which may be old news for some but comes from sources involved in the situation, is the belief that Julius Thomas is done in Denver.
Expect a big workout from Alvin Dupree of Kentucky on Sunday. His forty time could be faster than Jadeveon Clowney’s from a year ago (4.59) and the rest of his marks should be off the chart. Many were surprised Dupree was listed at linebacker for the combine considering many of the undersized college ends are working out with the defensive linemen. It presents a real opportunity for Dupree who showed himself to be a dominant pass rushing end in college and now has the opportunity to prove he can also play in space.
I expect two Big Ten linebackers to beat expectations during their combine workout.
Mike Hull of Penn State had minor knee surgery at seasons end but still participated in the Senior Bowl and should run in the low-to-mid 4.6’s. Teams like Hull as a core special teamer/nickel linebacker.
Jake Ryan of Michigan, whose been pegged as a two down defender by a number of people including myself, should also run in the 4.6s and post good shuttle times. Ryan timed well last year as a junior and just needs to translate that speed onto the football field.
Defensive lineman Marcus Hardison suffered a minor knee injury during the Senior Bowl which has hampered his training. As a result Hardison will not participate in the combine and will workout for teams during the ASU pro-day.
I’m told the Houston Texans are not happy with not happy with Louis Nix and will target a nose tackle during the draft.
Speaking of Houston, it looks like we have our first candidate for the 2015 supplemental draft and he comes from the Houston Cougars. Last night I was informed defensive end Eric Eiland, who posted 44 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss last season, is very likely to enter the supplemental draft. Eiland, who’ll turn 27 years old this September, intended to enter April’s draft but did not fill out the necessary paperwork. Eiland is an accomplished baseball player who was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2007 amateur draft.
While everyone expects the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select a quarterback with the first pick of the draft what about their other choices? I’m told the team will target linebackers and offensive linemen throughout the seven rounds.
What will Kyle Shanahan miss most from Cleveland? If his words mean anything it will be offensive lineman Joel Bitonio whom Shanahan called “great” and the “best rookie lineman I ever coached.”
The first full day of combine workouts are underway and we’re just getting started. One top rated tight end has already been injured during medical drills and no one will be driving away in a Porsche.
I posted several tweets last week over Adidas canceling the Porsche promotion for the three fastest forty times at the combine for athletes they sponsor. Several sources initially informed me of this Monday then a few more chimed in with the same information yesterday. Just about every source told me Adidas will substitute cash for cars. What caused the cancellation? I don’t know if we’ll ever get the entire story but a number of people have put forth the theory the league pressured Adidas to pull the promotion as Porsche is not an official sponsor of the combine. That has left a lot of people shaking there heads.
As posted earlier on twitter, Rutgers tight end Tyler Kroft had his ankle injured during combine medicals. Yesterday I reported Kroft was expected to run the forty in the 4.6s despite suffering the remnants of an ankle injury suffered during the season. I’m told doctors during the medicals pulled and twisted Kroft’s ankle to test the integrity of the joint and they stretched it a bit to much. Player getting injured during combine medicals is nothing new. I remember hearing a similar story years ago on Penn State linebacker Dan Connor who had to pull out of the combine workout after straining his knee when doctors pulled and twisted his leg to test the joint. Combine workouts can be a hazard as doctors will tug and pulls leg and other joints, especially if medical history shows a prior injury. The end result could be a combine participant who leaves the medical room worse for the where.
Keep a close eye on Cody Fajardo of Nevada tomorrow. Since the Senior Bowl there’s been talk of Fajardo making the move from quarterback to receiver. He’s a sensational athlete but his passing, specifically his accuracy, leaves a lot to be desired. Though there’s been no official word to date it’ll be interesting to see if Fajardo is put through receiver drills at the end of the quarterback practice session. Note- it was brought to our attention and must be stated Fajardo’s intention and primary focus is playing quarterback at the next level.
The same intrigue surrounds Devin Funchess of Michigan and Georgia Tech’s Darren Waller; will they be asked to participate in alternate position drills, specifically at the tight end position?
I’ve heard nothing on Funchess, who I presently grade as my number one tight end. On the other hand Waller is ready to complete tight end drills if asked and I’m told he’s also willing to workout at both positions during his pro-day.
There’s always one receiver who runs faster than expected or jumps higher than anticipated. This year it could be Chris Conley of Georgia who could break into the 4.3’s (listed as a 4.55s forty by scouts entering the season) and later jump north of 42-inches in the vertical.
Don’t expect a blistering forty time from Justin Hardy as he’ll clock around 4.5-seconds. I’m told Hardy has been running exceptional three cone times in training and could make run at the combine record. That represents his route running and separation skills.
I’m told Titus Davis of Central Michigan, who missed time in 2014 with a knee injury, is a 100% fit for his combine workout.
If receiver Devin Smith runs as well as expected the comparisons to Torrey Smith will begin.
Cameron Artis-Payne is riding high after a terrific 2014 campaign then a good performance at the Senior Bowl. While he should run in the mid 4.4’s scouts want him to stand out in pass catching drills on Saturday. The results could be the difference of Artis-Payne sliding into the draft’s initial 100 picks.
Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin hits the free agent marked after spending his entire career with the Cleveland Browns. Will Rubin remain a Brown? The overriding belief is Rubin has achieved all he can with the Browns and its time to move on.
It’s the day before the first full day of workouts at the 2015 NFL combine. So what’s the skinny as the offensive linemen and tight ends prepare to take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium? Here’s the latest I’m hearing with some additional notes on the free agent corners as well as Jadeveon Clowney.
I’ve spoken with a number of people since the Senior Bowl who have openly said there is serious concern over Jadeveon Clowney’s future. A variety of opinions have come from numerous sources, including those close to the Texans. I’ve heard everything from don’t expect much from Clowney in 2015 to the belief he may struggle to ever regain full health from the microfracture surgery. The reasoning for the latter is Clowney underwent the procedure at an early age.
The other big story brewing during the opening days of the combine centers around free agent cornerbacks. The belief is available corners will be overpaid in free agency as the demand at the position will far outstrip the supply. Sources tell me a number of teams (New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears) may look to sign a pair of corners in free agency, the need is so great. They also point to the New England Patriots as a team who won the Super Bowl with the help of two free agent corners, Darrell Revis and Brandon Browner.
On Monday I pointed to D.J. Humphries as the offensive lineman who’ll leave the combine with biggest bump in his draft stock. I’ve been told Humphries has more than 20 team interviews scheduled in Indianapolis. Not to far behind is Jeremiah Poutasi with 17.
I’m not overly keen on the tight end class but watch Jean Sifrin from UMass. He was a surprise junior entry but his game film reeks of upside potential. I’m told there’s a chance Sifrin runs in the 4.5’s, which would likely be the fastest time of the non move/H-back tight ends (aka, the Wes Saxton types).
Another junior tight end likely to impress with his athletic numbers is Tyler Kroft of Rutgers. Still suffering the remnants of a high ankle sprain which he incurred during the season, Kroft is not 100% but could still break into the 4.6’s in the forty. Known primarily as a pass catcher, it must be pointed out Kroft’s blocking improved as the season progressed in 2015.
Jesse James of Penn State is the third underclassmen tight end to watch tomorrow. James measured 6-7/262lbs and could get into the low 4.7’s during his forty and over 35-inches on the vertical jump. I’m told James has also run good shuttle times in training.
Nick O’Leary of Florida State plans to participate in the complete combine workout if his hamstring holds up. You may remember O’Leary hurt his hamstring during pre-game warm-ups at the Rose Bowl six weeks ago which forced him to take a different approach to combine training.
I’m not hearing good things about Randall Telfer of USC. Dating back to the NFLPA game I was told the tight end is out of shape and does not seem serious about the pre-draft process.