With less than three weeks until the draft kicks-off the buzz is beginning to get louder and the news more detailed.    April 25th: Latimer draws a big crowd

April 25th

8PM

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.

1PM

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.

April 24th

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.

April 23rd

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.

April 21st

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.

The latest rumors and insider notes as well as updates on visits and workouts.


- 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.

The latest rumors and insider notes as well as updates on visits and workouts.  Update: April 10th- Mike Evans top ten- but to whom?

April 10th

- 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.

April 7th

- 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.

April 4th

- 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.

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