Pro-day risers who aren’t getting the love
With pro days now in full swing, big-time names and programs routinely take center stage, making it easy to miss top performances from some mid-level prospects. Today, the National Football Post takes a look at four top prospect workouts from last week that no one is really talking about and breaks down how much each player has improved his draft stock:
• One running back to keep an eye on as we get closer to draft day is Kentucky’s Alfonso Smith. Smith is a 6-foot, 211-pound back who ran in the high 4.3 range and posted a 36-inch vertical at the Kentucky pro day. Although he has averaged over 4.0 yards per carry in each of the past four years, Smith has never carried the ball more than 75 times a year in that span. He’s battled his share of injuries but doesn’t have much wear and tear on his body at this point. Combine that with his size/speed numbers and Smith might be able to squeeze himself into the latter portions of the draft.
• Centers never seem to get much love at this time of the year, but Texas A&M pivot Kevin Matthews is one of the few guys who really seems to be building some positive momentum for himself. Matthews, the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, had a solid workout last week, posting 32 reps on the bench and a solid 5.27 time in the 40. However, it was his brilliant performance during position drills that really opened some eyes. Matthews isn’t the most impressive physical specimen on tape, but he gets his hands on opponents as quickly as any lineman in the country, plays with natural leverage and knows how to keep his base down through contact. He won’t get a ton of love on draft day, but he could end up fighting for a starting job down the line in the NFL.
• Maryland quarterback Chris Turner had a solid throwing session in front of scouts last week and is someone I think could end up being one of the dark horses in this poor QB class. Turner is a 6-4, 220-pound kid with a strong enough arm to make all the throws and has experience taking snaps from under center in a pro-style offense. He needs to improve as a decision-maker, but he’s an experienced three-year starter who played on a poor Maryland football team last year, knows how to battle through adversity and has an all-time record of 5-2 vs. top-25 teams. He isn’t an elite prospect by any stretch, but I still think he grades out similar to guys like Jevan Snead (Ole Miss) and Jonathan Crompton (Tennessee) and has a chance to make a roster right out of training camp.
• Finally, one guy who continues to intrigue is former Troy cornerback Jorrick Calvin. Calvin missed the 2009 season because of academic issues, but he has some impressive tape from the 2008 season and worked out well in front of scouts last week. Calvin, 5-10, 182 pounds, ran his 40 in 4.46-seconds and had a 33-inch vertical and a 4.54 short shuttle. Those aren’t exceptional numbers for the position, but they’re solid considering he didn’t see the field last season. He has some character issues, but the overall talent is there to warrant some attention as a late-round pick.
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