While most of the focus on the NFL is on the start of free agency, it can be easy to forget that the ever-so-important college Pro Days are going on every day throughout the week. Which prospects are helping themselves most at the Pro Days? Who is still riding high from their performance in Indianapolis? We ask our panel of Draft Insiders those questions and more with our Draft Stock Report. Let's check in on the offensive positions first ….
Quarterback (Tommy Lawlor – Scouts Notebook):
Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne had a good career, throwing for 9,472 yards and even rushing for 1,365 yards. But that wasn't enough to warrant an invitation to the Scouting Combine so he needed to impress teams at his pro day. He did have a good showing in front of scouts from 17 teams. One of the big questions with Kinne is his arm strength. Kinne threw the ball better than expected and the windy conditions may have actually helped him. Seeing him throw well in a less-than-ideal setting will impress teams. Kinne was the MVP of the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl so he's helped himself in the pre-draft period. Teams are looking for late-round quarterbacks to take a chance on and Kinne may now be a player who will find himself selected on the final day of the draft.
Our Take: Kinne is a personal favorite, and I was very happy to see him perform well at his Pro Day last week. While he's not a big prospect, he has all the intangibles, is the son of a coach, and has a moxie to his playing style that fans can latch on to. He surely won't be drafted before the later rounds, and may even fail to hear his name called, but it wouldn't shock me at all to see Kinne stick with a team once September rolls around.
Running Back (Aaron Aloysius – Draft Breakdown):
Sometimes, a prospect generates buzz by reversing his missteps, shifting attention back to his more redeeming qualities. One good example came last week at the University of Washington's pro day, where running back Chris Polk rehabilitated his draft stock. In January, Polk showed up to the Senior Bowl at a not-so-svelte 224 pounds. His undefined physique drew negative reviews, as did his sluggish performance during the week's practices. The disappointing week served as a wake-up call for the running back, motivating him to show up to the NFL Scouting Combine weighing nine pounds lighter. Polk then dropped another three pounds before his impressive pro day, at which he ran a 4.49 40-yard-dash, significantly better than the 4.57 he registered in Indianapolis. A patient runner with soft hands and impressive lower body strength, Polk possesses all the tools necessary to be an effective every down back. However, he'll need to keep himself in peak physical condition in order to maximize his good but not great burst. Fortunately, he appears to be committed to making the most of his potential.
Our Take: It's very true that Polk was one of the more less-inspiring prospects down in Mobile, and in a deep running back group many were certain that would cause a fall to the later rounds. That said, Polk has helped his reputation over the last few weeks, but is it too little too late? With other running backs such as David Wilson, Doug Martin, Lamar Miller, Bernard Pierce, and Robert Turbin all on the board with no conditioning questions, it could affect his stock. Still, I wouldn't expect Polk to fall further than the fifth round, with his name being called as early as round three.
Wide Receiver (Dane Brugler – CBS Sports):
A player who doesn’t receive national attention, but has been steadily building momentum is Appalachian State wideout Brian Quick. After thriving on the court as a high school basketball star, Quick tried out for the football team as a senior where he realized his love for the game. Quick turned down several basketball scholarships after he received an offer to play football for the Mountaineers and hasn’t looked back. He possesses an impressive skill-set with the natural size, athleticism and ball skills to reel in difficult catches and make something happen with the ball in his hands. Quick is still developing as a route runner and needs to improve his short-area footwork to cleanly separate, but he is a much faster athlete than anticipated. And after testing well at the Scouting Combine (4.55 40-yard dash), his draft stock continues to point North and it’s not a stretch to consider Quick a top-60 talent at this point. He has potential to develop into a Marques Colston-type of target at the next level.
Our Take: Heading down to the Senior Bowl, Quick was one of the more intriguing prospects. While he did struggle catching the football at times throughout the week during practice, Quick’s raw talent was undeniable. At 6-3, he was a bit shorter than originally anticipated (he was listed as 6-5 by Appalachian State), but is still a big kid with surprising quickness and movement skills. I would not be surprised to see Quick come off the board as early as the second round.
Tight End (Eric Galko – Optimum Scouting):
Despite NFL offenses around the league becoming more tight end-centric thanks to the production of players such as Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Jermichael Finley, this draft class doesn't really supply enough talent for the demand. This year's class, however, features a lot of depth in situational and complete tight ends. Scouting Combine snub Kevin Koger of Michigan wasn't used as much as a receiving option in past Michigan seasons under former head coach Rich Rodriguez, but is a developed blocker to go with raw receiving ability. Evan Rodriguez completed his Pro Day at Temple on Friday, and offers fullback/H-Back/tight end versatility as a sound blocker, a polished route runner from several positions, and a reliable run-after-catch option. While teams may look to the long Coby Fleener, the well-built Dwayne Allen, or the situational yet character concern ridden Orson Charles early, it's the tight end versatility and completeness where this class really has value.
Our Take: Koger has been a personal favorite at the tight end position for some time now, and he was one of the true shockers from the list of prospects who didn't make the trip to Indianapolis. He's a good athlete for the position and has the versatility teams look for, almost in the Jermichael Finley mold. Rodriguez will be helped because of his versatility along with the fact that many of the routes he ran at Temple were pro-style routes. He has a savvy to his game with the ball in his hands that, while he doesn't have elite straight-line speed, makes him a good option after the catch. Both should go in the middle rounds in this draft when it's all said and done.
Offensive Line (Josh Norris – RotoWorld):
This year's Guard group is incredibly deep, with multiple early starters likely to be drafted in the first two days. But looking at the draft's history tells us plenty of productive players come in that third day, especially on the offensive line. Pittsburgh's Lucas Nix is an old school mauler who uses his thick upper body effectively to create running lanes. Nix is limited to the first level of blocks and lacks quickness in his lower half but the 6-5, 317-pounder hits to punish until the whistle goes silent. I like Nix's burst to pop on initial contact while quickly extending his arms, but pad level could become an issue. His inability to bend or flash athleticism in the lower body when recovering to anchor in pass protection is Nix's biggest drawback. Iowa's Adam Gettis is light at 6-2, 293, but he latches on with sound hand placement and outstanding quickness for an interior line prospect. However, his lower body gets redirected or jolted off-balance on first contact too often, even by awaiting linebackers at the second level. If Gettis can add thickness and strength, he's an ideal zone blocker at the next level.
Our Take: Nix was surprisingly not invited to any of the major post-season All-Star games, but when you turn on the film from his time at Pittsburgh you see a guy who constantly plays to the echo of the whistle -- and that will get you somewhere in the NFL. His nasty demeanor and physical toughness will get him drafted in the middle rounds, perhaps as early as the third stanza. Gettis was one of the highlights of the first day of the Scouting Combine, blowing all of the offensive linemen out of the water with his performance athletically. Linemen with that type of lower-body explosion and quickness are attractive, and when you factor in that he was coached by Kirk Ferentz at Iowa, it only increases his value. He should come off the board in the later rounds on Draft Weekend.