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NFP Pro Day Preview March 4 - 8: Part Two

Russ Lande offers his thoughts on five more schools holding their Pro Days this week. Russ Lande

March 05, 2013
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While the evaluation of game film is still bar far and away the most important aspect of scouting, NFL teams send coaches and scouts across the country to work-out prospects to fill in the last piece of the scouting puzzle. Today we look at Syracuse, Florida International, Ohio State, Southern Mississippi and Texas A&M.

1. March 7, Syracuse: QB Ryan Nassib, OT Justin Pugh and SAF Shamarko Thomas:
Geno Smith is widely considered the top quarterback in the Draft by many in the media, but Nassib is right there with him on a number of NFL team’s Draft boards. NFL personnel that we spoke with love Nassib’s mechanics, accuracy and “gym rat” mentality/intangibles. However, because of the lack of deep passes attempted at Syracuse and his performance in the Senior Bowl practices, there are concerns about his arm strength. If he shows the good arm strength to make all the NFL throws that we are confident he has during his Pro Day, we believe he has a real chance to be a top ten pick in the Draft.

Protecting Nassib’s blindside at Syracuse, Pugh did an outstanding job. A quick and agile athlete with good footwork, Pugh easily was able to slide out to block explosive speed rushers and could re-direct back inside to handle quick counter moves. Unfortunately for Pugh, at the Senior Bowl his arms measured 31 ½ and at the Combine 32, which are shorter than the 33 most NFL teams view as necessary to play tackle effectively in the NFL. This has led to a number of teams sliding him inside to guard on their draft boards. Pugh needs to excel athletically during the workout to convince teams that he has the talent to overcome his arm length to play tackle in the NFL.

In a year with great depth at the safety position, Thomas needs to overcome concerns that he is a muscle bound box safety who lacks the flexibility and coverage skills to be a quality starting safety in today’s pass first NFL. If he can ease teams concerns about his all-around athleticism then he could find himself as a mid round draft pick.

2. March 8, Florida International: SAF Johnathan Cyprien:
Even after running a slower than expected 40 time at the Combine, Kenny Vaccaro is still viewed as the top safety in the Draft, but the battle to be the second one drafted is still wide open and Cyprien is right in the middle of it. After not working out at the Combine, NFL teams are excited to see him show his wares because he was so impressive on film and at the Senior Bowl. A strong and physical run defender with experience handling a variety of different coverage assignments, NFL personnel want to get a better feel for his quickness, footwork and ball skills to feel comfortable labeling him as a first round pick. A strong workout would put him atop the safeties battling to be chosen after Vaccaro and likely at the bottom of the first round.

JON HANKINSUS PRESSWIREOhio State DT Jon Hankins chases down the line to try and catch Michigan's Denard Robinson.

3. March 8, Ohio State: DT Jon Hankins:
With Sharrif Floyd, Sheldon Richardson and Star Lotulelei dominating the headlines as the top three defensive tackles, Hankins has been sliding under the radar since he declared for the Draft. At basically 6’3 and 320 pounds he has the prototypical size that NFL teams love and combined with excellent natural strength and rare speed for a big man he has the talent to be a high end NFL starter. However, there are concerns that Hankins does not play with an aggressive attitude or compete hard on every snap. While a Pro Day is not a place that can answer all those questions, if Hankins shows up in top shape, workouts well and handles what will likely be a long and challenging workout specifically meant to test his competitiveness and endurance then he could push himself back into the mix to be a first round pick.

4. March 8, Southern Mississippi: OLB Jamie Collins:
One of the most intriguing linebacker prospects in the Draft, Collins tested out extremely well at the Combine, so likely will only being doing positional work at his Pro Day. Having played a hybrid defensive end / outside linebacker (“bandit”) position at Southern Mississippi, NFL personnel are trying to get a feel for Collins football instincts to get more comfortable with his playing up as a linebacker full time in the NFL. Most 34 teams that I have spoken to have no concerns in this area, but teams that play 43 schemes are trying to figure out if Collins is best as an under-sized defensive end or a linebacker and if so which linebacker position. Already viewed as a second day pick, Collins could put himself into the second round with a stellar performance at his workout.

5. March 8, Texas A&M: OT Luke Joeckel and DE Damontre Moore:
In a fierce battle with Eric Fisher to be the first offensive tackle selected, Joeckel needs a strong Pro Day to stay ahead in this race. Regarded by many as a smooth athlete with great balance and footwork/technique, NFL teams want to get a better feel for his strength because on film this was the area he had the most trouble. It is nearly impossible to ease strength and aggressiveness concerns during an individual workout, but a strong performance could help as Fisher is regarded as having a little more nastiness to his play.

For a player who was so widely hyped as a potential top ten pick by most of the media, although not at National Football Post, Damontre Moore needs a huge Pro Day to ease major concerns after a disappointing combine. At 250 pounds Moore’s 12 repetitions on the bench press was shockingly low and then his overall workout did not impress as he lacked explosiveness, quickness and looked stiff and mechanical in many of the position drills. Moore needs to not only do better in the bench press, although I do not know how much he could have improved in the two weeks since the Combine, but must display better flexibility, burst and change of direction ability during his workout to have any chance of being a first round pick.

Email Russ at Russelllande@yahoo.com and Follow Russ on Twitter @RUSSLANDE 

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