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Scout’s Notebook: Up & Down Day For Some Key Skill Players
Sunday, February 24, 2013 7:29 PM CST
· As I was preparing for the day when the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs were getting ready for their workouts for the clubs, I had a pretty good idea that in studying the list of players that several of them had the opportunity to post some outstanding times. There was no doubt in my mind that Tavon Austin and Marquise Goodwin would run fast but what I didn’t expect were guys like wide receivers Josh Boyce (4.38), Ryan Swope (4.34) and Kenny Stills (4.38) to go as well as they did. Running backs Knile Davis (4.37) and Onterio McCalebb (4.34) also put up some impressive numbers that will make me burn some midnight oil on their college tape. I will say this about Swope and Stills, when you do study their tape, you do see separation when they run their routes. With Swope it is mainly down the field as with Stills, it’s more routes underneath. Will say this about the workouts for Goodwin and Swope, I was a little surprised that they had some of the drops that they had in the drills. I really don’t know how much confidence Goodwin truly has in his hands because there are times on film where he jumps to catch the ball when he doesn’t have to and I observed a little of that today. Swope on the other hand has dependable hands and you see him catch in them but there were some throws that afterwards where his body language was poor. I really believed that after he posted those 40’s that his workout was going to take off but he was really just stuck in neutral for the majority of the day.
· Another player that I was expecting more from was wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. After his (4.42) in the 40, I was preparing for that “Wow” factor from him that I had seen on tape many times before but he too like Swope didn’t have the most productive day when he came to catching the ball. To me his workout was not at a pace that I believed one of the top receivers in the draft was going to have. There was no explosiveness to his game, his drills were not as crisp and it left me with the feeling that he wasn’t in great shape or something was physically wrong with him. It was like he was laboring to try and get through them. If he was injured I respect his desire to finish the workout but I came away with some questions. I did see that he had one of the best vertical jumps at 37” but he did not attempt the 20 or 60 shuttle or the three cone drill to finish the workout.
· I had plenty of questions of really how accurate EJ Manuel was throwing the football. When I saw him live at the Senior Bowl I thought he was horrible, then I studied tape and came away with the feeling that he really has no clue where the ball is going at any time. In his workout on Sunday, he appeared to have a much better sense of how to control the flight of his ball. His passes were in better spots and not all over the map making the receiver work for them, his “9” or go throws for thrown with accuracy and touch which to be honest, was a shock. There is no doubt of he or Geno Smith’s athletic ability but the biggest difference in my book was the accuracy of their passes. Where Manuel gave me a little hope is that his game improved over the last time I was able to see him in person and on a much bigger stage than the one he was on during Senior Bowl week.
· Was very disappointed that running back Andre Ellington pulled a hamstring during the running of his first 40 yard dash. I really wanted to watch him work out to see if he could separate himself from the other running backs in this draft but it looks like I am going to have to wait for his Pro Day at Clemson to see those true numbers. The back that I did think showed me something was Jonathan Franklin who played with quick feet and change of direction in the drills. Caught the ball well whether it was a swing or an inside “Texas” route over the middle. Overall had a productive workout. Stepfan Taylor of Stanford is another one of those backs that is in the mix but what I have learned about him is that you just watch the tape and don’t worry about the numbers. He is not going to test well or “Wow” you with speed and quickness but he catches the ball well in a short area and will work it up the field. Another guy to keep your eye on in the latter part of the draft is Kerwynn Williams of Utah State. I managed to do a little film work last week and glad I did. Williams is not the tallest back at 5-8 but you do see the power with the 17 reps at 225 but you also see the quickness when he carries or catches the ball. One of his best traits on film is to catch the ball and get North and South in a hurry.
· Clemson wide receiver Deandre Hopkins was a player that I struggled with some on tape because I didn’t think he played quick nor fast. Against LSU he did a nice job of getting open and catching the ball but at (4.57) there still is some concern. His 20 shuttle was not outstanding at (4.50) but again, these are traits that you see on tape. His numbers are very similar to Anquan Boldin coming out of Florida State but the main difference you saw Boldin consistently make play after play at Florida State and there are times where you don’t see that with Hopkins. He did a much better job in the workout on Sunday snatching the ball with his hands and was able to make adjustments in that window to secure the catch. My gut tells me that Hopkins will be selected in the 2nd round much like Boldin did by the Cardinals with the 54th pick. I believe you are going to have to live with his speed but you are really going to have to hope that he develops his game as a consistent route runner.