Monday, March 12|
Notebook: Diamonds in the rough
By Mel Kiper
This time of year, there are always players who begin to intrigue the NFL brass during workouts, getting just enough positive commentary to expect at least a slight elevation up the draft board from where they were last projected.
At QB, Morehead State's multi-talented David Dinkins has been working out at a variety of positions, including RB and SS. While he still looks like a free-agent type, he could possibly garner some late-round consideration. This past season, he threw for over 1,700 yards and 17 TDs, while accounting for an impressive 3,765 yards on the ground during his productive career at Morehead State.
Situational backs with speed to burn usually turn out to be third- or fourth-round possibilities, and that's exactly where Stephen F. Austin's Derrick Blaylock could end up.
A pair of wide receivers getting very favorable commentary of late are Iowa's Kevin Kasper and Kentucky's Quentin McCord. Kasper, while considered more of a sure-handed possession type at Iowa, has really turned heads with his straight-line 40 speed and overall athleticism. In fact, at the WR position, he was the biggest surprise from a positive standpoint. McCord enjoyed a productive career at Kentucky, working in the run-and-shoot attack. He could end up being a nice addition in the fifth- or sixth-round area.
While Todd Heap is clearly the No. 1 TE available, with North Carolina's fast-rising Alge Crumpler figuring as an early second-rounder, the battle wages on to see who will fall in as the third-highest rated TE on the draft board. Right now, my guess would that Penn State's Tony Stewart is that player, with San Jose State's Sean Brewer also in the mix. Stewart is big, athletic and can really catch the football, while Brewer gets down the field effectively and has the soft hands offensive coordinators are looking for.
Along the offensive line, the center position usually doesn't get a lot of talk, but for clubs with a hole to fill at this spot, things look a lot better than originally anticipated. Strengthening things at the pivot position were the entrance of blue-chip junior Dominic Raiola from Nebraska into the process as well as the superior workouts of Texas A&M-Kingsville's Robert Garza. Raiola could be a possibility for the Detroit Lions in round one, while Garza shouldn't last past the middle to later portion of the second round. Also, keep an eye on Purdue's underrated center Chukky Okobi. He could end up being a later-round steal. And while Tulane's Bernard Robertson did a fine job at both right and left tackle during his college career, he may be worked some at center in the NFL. There is no question that Robertson's versatility is a big plus.
At DE, Marshall DE Paul Toviessi came through with more impact plays off the edge this past season and now figures as a possible first-day choice. Also in the mix for that area as well is Minnesota DT John Schlecht.
While this isn't the year to be in the market for a big-time OLB, there could be some excellent value-type selections at this spot in the early second-day area. One player who falls into that category is Vanderbilt's Matt Stewart. While he played in the shadow of his more heralded teammate, Jamie Winborn, a smart, hard-working and very determined strongside LB like Stewart could also land in that general area. A major plus with Stewart is his ability and experience as a deep snapper.
In the deep patrol, cornerbacks on the rise include South Florida's Anthony Henry and Georgia's Jamie Henderson. Henry has the size (6-0½, 200), toughness and recovery skills to work effectively on the corner in the NFL. He also has the ability and experience to move inside to a safety spot with no problems. Look for Henry's name to be called in the third-round area. Henderson also has excellent size (6-1½, 201) and can really do the job in run support and as an open-field tackler. Also keep an eye on CB William Peterson of Western Illinois. The former Michigan Wolverine could end up being selected on the first day of the draft. Moving up the draft board at the safety spot is Memphis' Idrees Bashir. Even though he came out with eligibility still remaining, Bashir is experienced at both free and strong safety, while bringing top drawer physical skills to the position. Bashir figures to be a third-round possibility.
Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories