Posts Tagged ‘college pro days’

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September 13, 2009

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Bears target Henry Melton, pull the trigger on the Longhorn

April 26, 2009

Henry Melton can be questioned by some people as being a reach early in the fourth round of the NFL draft today. But rest at ease Bears fans, Jerry Angelo and his crew did their homework on him as a prospect. He was one of the players on the Private Workout list we were the first blog or media outlet to provide and we did a prospect preview on him based on the Bears’ interest in him.

Melton is a classic 4-3 DE prospect with his size and speed of the edge. He is strong enough to hold things down at the point of attack in the run game, and he’s got enough of a burst to get to the QB. He is the type of player that would immensely benefit from learning under the veterans the Bears do have on the roster currently. Not to mention the plus of learning the techniques he’ll get from Rod Marinelli. Melton is a project, but with proper grooming and learning from Marinelli he could be an impact player. He has tremendous upside and he will easily learn good workout and technique habits from the new D-Line coach.

Melton is very new to the position having only played it for two years for the Texas Longhorns. Everyone spoke about him being a prototype DE coming out of high school, where he was a running back, but he never worked out. From there they flipped him to DE where he is now a draft pick for the Chicago Bears.

Prospect Preview: Juaquin Iglesias

April 23, 2009

Finally I get to writing a prospect profile on wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias from the Oklahoma Sooners. I didn’t want to do all of the prospects all lumped together I wanted to try and spread out their prospect previews over a couple weeks time. So I stalled and stalled on doing this write up.

Then I started to do more research on Iglesias who seems like he is quietly the Matt Forte of this year’s draft class. By that I mean the front office seems to like him a lot. They have thoroughly scouted him via the combine, private workouts and the Oklahoma Pro Day. He’s been one of the most talked about possibilities at 49 overall in the draft since the combine.

So I began to ask myself why, why is a receiver from Oklahoma so highly thought of when so many of them have bombed? The more I started to watch Iglesias the more film I watched the more of a sinking feeling I got regarding him possibly being in a Chicago Bears uniform. I’m now officially beginning to wonder if he is so highly rated because he’s from the Sooner nation. I mean his highlight reel isn’t anything spectacular. His production is nothing world beating, he had one big game against Kansas 12 catches for 191 yards ZERO TDs. He makes a lot of catches with defenders hanging on him, which is good but bad at the sametime because it shows he’s not getting a lot of separation.

So I’m looking for the one thing that makes Iglesias worthy of the 49th selection and I have yet to find it. He’s not overly 6-foot-1 210-pounds. He’s not overly fast 4.56 in the 40-yard dash, and his vertical leap isn’t overly special at 34 1/2 inches. So what is it that makes Iglesias an NFL worthy prospect?

He has decent production from 2008 74 catches for 1,150 and 10 touchdowns. His production improved from year to year and he was a three year starter for the Sooners. He sorta does everything average to good but nothing exceptionally well. He’s a good route runner, has good hands, is the same size as Hakeem Nicks so you can’t knock one guy and compliment the other for their size. He is who he is a prospect that is probably a better value later in the third to fourth round and you wonder if you getting a beneficiary of the hype machine that is Oklahoma.

They had a great offense in 2008 arguably the best offense of all time. Against some pretty mediocre competition and they were completely shut down in the National Championship game by the Florida Gators. So you wonder why do so many players get the level of respect that they do coming out of Norman every year?

Some guys just have the benefit of being a good player on a great team therefore that makes them automatically great players compared to the rest of the kids out there.

He has positive attributes that a lot of receivers have but nothing jaw dropping. He doesn’t seem as tough after the catch or even as fast as Hakeem Nicks. He’s not as big or as fast or as polished as Brian Robiskie. So while there is things to like about him, I’m just not feeling it regardin Juaquin Iglesias. If he ends up a Chicago Bear I’ll support him and hope for the best. But if he doesn’t end up sticking around in the league then I won’t be all that shocked either.

Higher priority for the Bears wide receiver or pass rusher?

April 21, 2009

Right now both the wide receiver and pass rusher/under-sized DE position is one of the deepest pools of talent in this draft. Plus there is recent talk that certain pass rushers may be falling out of the first round and falling into the second round leaving the Bears on quite the quandary come draft day.

While there is little doubt that the Bears’ offense severely struggled due to the lack of a premiere pass catcher in 2008, conversely the defense lost games because of a lack of a pass rush. You can literally point to three to four games where a lack of a pass rush lost games where as the passing game was consistent enough to win games for the Bears. Plus the addition of Jay Cutler will only help the current roster of receivers improve.

All that is true but the most recent development is the recent talk that premiere pass rusher Larry English’s stock has begin to fall. Apparently at 6-foot-2 255-pounds English is to small to line up as a DE, but when you think to stand him up as a 3-4 OLB suddenly he’s to slow. Not a good problem to have if you’re Larry English, but a nice problem to have if you’re the Chicago Bears.

Why? Because English is a fearsome pass rusher, plain and simple he has speed of the edge and is going to succeed in this league. Pass rushers that are as explosive off the edge as English is are at a premium. If a team is foolish enough to pass English because he doesn’t fit into the ideals of size and speed then that’s their loss.

Another player who fits the mold of a Larry English who I can personally attest to being a great player coming out of college is Terrell Suggs at Arizona State. Suggs didn’t work out at the combine so all his eggs were in one basket at the his ASU Pro-Day. I was there personally to witness Suggs pro-day first hand with all of the NFL scouts in attendance including Bears’ GM Jerry Angelo. Suggs that day went out and ran his 40-yard-dash in the high 4.8 second range. He was as high as 4.87 on some watches and as low as 4.72 on other watches. But the consensus for Suggs was that 4.8 was as good as it was going to get for his 40-yard dash time. I personally clocked Suggs in the 4.93 40-yard dash that day in the hot sun on Astro turf at ASU.

So Suggs went from a sure fire top-five prospect to a player who steadily fell until the Ravens traded up to grab him. A few years later Suggs is a 3-4 OLB who is a consistent Pro-Bowl level player. That to me is the type of player Larry English is that burst off the edge, as Mike Mayock calls it running the arc. That is where pass rushing money is made, not in the 40-yard dash times that so many people zero in on, but that 10-20 yards a DE needs to run to sack the QB.

Two other players who fit into that late first round to mid second round category who could be considered pass rush specialists are Connor Barwin and Aaron Maybin. Both have that size at 6-foot-4 245 to 255-pounds but may fall in the draft because of their timing in the 40-yard dash or their raw abilities may fall. There is little doubt that three are pure pass rushers with threat motors.

Then there is the Brian Robiskie, Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks problem. One of those three could fall as far as 49, but all three are deemed late first round worthy. There is the sense that the three together fall into nearly the same category, late first round to second round WR talent. They are among the 35th to 50th best players in the NFL draft in the scope of overall talent. They have been covered in Bears draft talk ad nauseam since the end of the NFL combine in late February. All three would be great big strong receiver who could work the underneath routes with Devin Hester taking care of the deep routes.

So while the consensus near unanimous opinion is that the Bears should take a WR with the second round pick at 49. The question is what do you do with a great pure pass rusher still on the board?

Prospect Preview: Hakeem Nicks

April 21, 2009

Hakeem Nicks is an intriguing prospect if there ever was one. He could have been a good pick up for the Bears at the 18th spot in the NFL draft or he could possibly even fall as low as 49th in the draft. There is no way to say where he is better in his game than either Kenny Britt or Brian Robiskie. The three fit well together for the type of receivers they are and the type of receivers the Bears needs.

For starters it’s hard to argue with Nicks’ production, his hands, his work ethic his run after the catch his route running all the things that are far more important than a guy like Heyward-Bey who has built his reputation primarily on speed. Nicks’ intangibles are greater than Heyward Bey’s and that is enough to sell me on him as a prospect. In our receiver combine report we picked up on the scouting report given by Colts GM and receiver evaluator extraordinaire Bill Polian who gave strong compliments to Nicks.

Plus if you’ve seen Nicks play (I saw two of his games) you came away impressed with his ability. Nicks is a receiver who will be productive in the NFL because he is more polished than a lot of the other WRs who have come before him. A lot of Nicks’ yards came from his solid separation in his route running in short passes that he turned into big gains with ability after the catch.

His performance in the Citrus Bowl is all you need to view to know that he is big time receiver. He almost won the game by himself with his three touchdowns and 213 yards receiving. He just would not let his team lose because of something he failed to do.

Big time receivers show up for the big games and this is one game where Nicks was shining through. As well as the conference game against Miami. He made big catches in that game as well to help put his team in position for a win.

There is little doubt that if Nicks were to fall to as low as 49th in the draft he would be considered a steal if the Bears were able to scoop him up.

Prospect Preview: Mike Rivera

April 20, 2009

As previously mentioned most NFL teams are quite enamored with the hybrid OLB/DE types that fit into the 3-4 scheme. It’s all the rage this year with 10 prospects likely to go in the first two rounds of the draft. Thanks can go to Ware and Harrison of Dallas and Pittsburgh respectively.

On the flip side of the equation though is something of a bit of interest. With so many teams looking at the 3-4 hybrid types, the likelihood that some quality 4-3 OLB types slip to the later rounds of the draft are quite good.

One such prospect is Mike Rivera from Kansas University who showed some explosive athleticism at the KU pro day. By LB standards Rivera about jumped out of the gymnasium with his 38 1/2 inch vertical which would have been a full inch and a half better than all of the other LBs at the NFL Scouting combine. More importantly Rivera is not projected as a weak-side prospect with his 6-foot-3 245-pound frame.

Rivera is a converted MIKE ‘backer who started playing the SAM position in 2006. From that point forward he was a tackling machine racking up over 95 tackles per season over three seasons, including an average of 10 tackles for a loss. These are ideal numbers for a SAM ‘backer prospect who needs to be big and physical to match up with the strong-side run formation where the TEs typically line up.

Rivera’s stock is on the rise and rightfully so with his 4.62 speed in the 40-yard dash to go with his vertical leap. That type of straight line speed will help him match up well with TEs in the 4-3 cover-2 the Bears primarily run. He also showed ability against the pass with seven pass break ups in 2007 and four more in 2008. His seven pass break ups were second on the team and is pretty high for a linebacker prospect who is not typically asked to make a lot of plays in the passing game, where it’s not typical for TEs to be a primary receiving option in college.

Rivera is yet another prospect who is being scouted over thoroughly by the coaching staff and looks like he could be brought in in the later rounds of the draft. It’s no secret that these unheralded but productive college players with solid athleticism are being worked over by one of the most productive scouting departments in the league. Productive by defensive standards as Angelo and his crew have shown time and again that they can unearth project players who develop on special teams and turn into above average pros later in their careers. Perhaps Mike Rivera will be just that type of player come the second day of the NFL draft.

Prospect Preview: Safety Troy Nolan

April 19, 2009

Well this one is one of the easiest scouting reports I’d had to do on a player given that I’ve seen him practice and play first hand at ASU games the past two season. The benefit of being an ASU football season ticket holder pay it’s dividends in this case.

So can I put up a non-biased scouting report of Troy Nolan’s talents? Well I’m going to try.

For me personally Nolan can look like Ed Reed in one instant and then look like he’s lost in space the next. Why would I dare mention Ed Reed? Consider just for a moment that he was the Ed Reed of college football, while Ed Reed is the NFL version of well duh Ed Reed. By this I mean Nolan is a ball hawk with 10 career INTs of which five went for touchdowns. 167 yards for those return yards after he picked the ball off so I know Nolan can set up blockers and get into the end zone ala Ed Reed.

Thing is Nolan is not always consistent with his game. Sometimes he over pursues the play and ends up really costing the team. He is a good tackler, will stick his nose in and make a play on the ball carrier. But his most impressive aspect of his game is his ball hawk ability. He has good size, 6-1 209-pounds, but lacks the real speed you’d like to see out of your free safety. He’s not going to light the track on fire with his 4.61 timed 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, but his game speed is better than his timed speed.

His ball hawk skills were pretty consistent although after a big junior it took him awhile to get going for his senior year. He wound up with seven pass break ups to go with his four picks so it as no fluke. He was a second team All-Pac-10 performer which doesn’t say much to most people, until you consider created by god himself as the perfect athlete and safety (if you believe the hype) USC Trojan Taylor Mays plays in the same conference.

The negatives are enough that he likely won’t get sniffed until the later rounds. The 40-yard dash time from the combine will scare some teams as will some of his lost in space lapses in coverage.

The Bears recently worked him out privately at a work out scheduled for another player. Nolan happened to be around so he was put through some positional drills. Since the Bears have a dire need in the secondary for a safety prospect and the Bears are known for finding starting caliber safeties late in the rounds it wouldn’t shock me if he ended up a Bear.

Nolan is another safety prospect that is among the long list of prospects the Bears are scouting seriously. The positions the Bears are scouting the most players at are in no particular order wide receiver, offensive line, safety and strong side outside linebacker. It shouldn’t therefore shock most fans when the Bears go with a number of these scouted prospects that appear on this list.

Prospect Preview: Russell Martin

April 16, 2009

What a frustrating aspect of football the media can be. Generating so much hype about popular this, gimmicky that, in vogue this, successful that, won the Super Bowl with this, dominated the league with that. Everyone is changing to this, the evolution of this team, the direction of the defense’s in the league. Every year it’s something different that contributes to a team’s success in the league. Every year the media hypes up the success of a team utilizing a certain scheme, certain set, formation or even personnel.

When the Bears went to the Super Bowl and had dominating defenses the Cover-2 or Tampa-2 was all the rage. Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl and their OLB finished as the league’s defensive player of the year the 3-4 zone read/scheme/blitz is the popular defense that everyone is mimicking or shifting to or implementing. So naturally you have to shift the personnel to meet the requirements of the 3-4. Everyone needs the hybrid outside linebackers who can both drop into coverage and rush the passer. Teams need the DeMarcus Ware, James Harrison, Terrell Suggs’ of the world to fortify their defense.

So apparently what is a priority in the draft is Brian Orakpo, Everette Brown, Larry English, and of course the unanimous selection of best defensive player available, Aaron Curry. So what ever happened to the Hunter Hillenmeyer’s of the world? The Wilbur Marshall, Junior Seau types who played the SAM position so successfully for years in the NFL?

What happened to all the 4-3 strong side LBs?

Well if you believe the hype those types of players aren’t around anymore, well they are but the analysts just choose to attach a label to those players. Truth be told there isn’t much difference in the responsibilities between the SAM and the hybrid 3-4 types. Both need to be solid against the run, need to cover well in space, and rush the passer. Typically though the responsibilities of the SAM LB are less because he doesn’t have to be the primary pass rusher in a 3 man switch to a four man front.

So given the need the Bears have at the SAM ‘backer position which prospects are they targeting? San Diego State’s Russell Allen is one of the player’s the Bears brought in for an official visit/private workout. Allen is the prototypical SAM, arguably MIKE LB. The most important aspect of a SAM LB is that he has to be pretty big and strong to take on runs to the strong-side of the offensive formation. He needs to be big enough to match up well with the TEs in pass coverage. So you’d like to see them at a minimum of 6-foot-2. Allen is 6-foot-3 and goes 235-pounds and his workout number at the San Diego State pro day were well within the respectable range for a SAM ‘backer prospect. He ran the 40-yard dash in the low 4.6 range, posted a 33.5-inch vertical jump, 9-foot, 10-inch broad jump, 4.34 short shuttle, 7.21 three-cone drill and 24 bench press reps.

Furthermore his production for the Aztecs was acceptable as well. Obivously I’m not going to sit here and sell Allen as a high end prospect or even a mid round prospect. He is what he is but at least he has potential and probably a chip on his shoulder given that he’s not getting as much respect as the other guys out there. He led the defense in tackles with 119 … Ranked first in the MWC in tackles per conference outing (10.6) and was 33rd nationally in overall games (9.9) … MWC all-conference honorable mention pick in 2007.

To help Bears fans rest easy there are also 17 other teams that have shown interest in Allen. Even though he is not a glitzy or glamorous prospect. He is the old worn out cliche, lunch pail type of player who also has experience and value as a long snapper.

Perhaps Martin has played his last real game on the football field and may never set foot on Soldier Field in a regular season game. However if a prospect is going to be given a private workout attended by Jerry Angelo, he deserves his respect here and elsewhere in the realm of Chicago Bears fans.

Prospect Preview: A poor man’s Larry Fitzgerald?

April 14, 2009

That’s precisely the way one scout described this wide receiver prospect. A top level threat that goes up and catches the ball at it’s highest point with superb body control and hands. He does everything the right way the type of player you want in a receiver. He’s essentially been groomed his whole life to be a wide receiver in the NFL.

Who is this top level prospect who might wind up falling to as low as 49th pick in the second round? None other than Brian Robiskie of Ohio State who stands in at 6-foot-3 209-pounds and runs in the high 4.4 to low 4.5 40-yard dash range. Robiskie is arguably the prospect that is most NFL ready with his superb route running, ability to get off the jam at the line and get down the field and make plays on the football in traffic.

There are not a lot of negatives that scouts have written about in their analysis of Robiskie. His only down fall is that 4.3 40-yard dash speed that Larry Fitzgerald has. Plus he is not known as a great blocker in run plays against bigger players. The biggest thing that is somewhat worrisome is his lack of elite production at the college level. His senior year his production fell off a bit and his junior year production while solid wasn’t jaw dropping.

The consensus is that Robiskie will be a good player in this league for a long time to come. He understands what it takes to be good in the NFL because he’s grown up under an NFL receivers coach his whole life. His father is Terry Robiskie a 26-year coaching veteran in the NFL, who has coached receivers for most of that career. There likely isn’t a prospect more prepared mentally and physically for the NFL than Robiskie is. He knows the preparation level it takes to succeed, knows the work ethic and effort he needs to put forth to succeed.

Robiskie is the opposite of the type of prospect than Darrius Heyward Bey is. While Heyward Bey gets mega hype for his speed and game breaking ability, Robiskie is the type of player that quietly goes about his business of making plays and being consistent with his play.

Path to the Draft analysis had nothing but positives regarding Robiskie as well stating his actualy game speed may be faster than what it looks like he is in the 40-yard dash. Every time you pop in the tape you see him making a unique play, he gets in and out of his breaks well, he gets out of press coverage, he’s always open, he understands all the things you need to do succeed in any passing scheme.

One stat that lends credit to his game playing speed is that he was second in the Big-10 with catches of 20-yards or more. That says that he has the speed to get down the field and then get YAC, plus the all-important ability to go up in a crowd and come down with the football.

The more you read about Robiskie and hear about him the more you get that unanimous type of feeling that he will be a good player in the league. Should he slip far enough in the draft to the neighborhood of where the Bears will select the more important it is the Bears should draft him even if that means moving up in a realistic trade to land him.

NFL Draft Prospect Preview: DE Henry Melton

April 12, 2009

If you haven’t figured it out by now then you’ve been living under a rock or you’re only a Bears fan who gets excited about the draft a week or two before the draft takes place. Most year round Bears fans are well aware that the Bears had a dismal pass rush in 2008 and may actually be looking to grab a DE in the middle to late rounds of the draft.

This would answer why the Bears are scouting a raw but potentially promising prospect such as Henry Melton from the University of Texas. While Melton doesn’t have production and sack numbers that will knock your socks off, he does have solid potential and the all too often used cliche known as….UPSIDE. Melton brings a bunch of athleticism and speed to the table but not a lot of production. In 2008 he had four sacks and 10 tackles for a loss for the Longhorns. Not exactly numbers that jump of the page and hit you in the face when talking about a kid from Austin.

However when you delve into the scouting reports and see the numbers from the combine you get the sense that if Melton is around in round four or perhaps later a coach like Rod Marinelli might be able to get some production equal to his athleticism. At 6-foot-4 and 269-pounds with a 40-yard dash time in the mid 4.6 range Melton has all the tools to be a solid 4-3 DE.

So why is there so little production or hype regarding a kid with this size and athleticism? Simple Melton has only played defensive end full time for two years. Before that he was a RB who only took some snaps and got some reps as a DE. But now Melton is a raw athlete who with the right coaching could be a sleeper prospect in the NFL draft.

One thing that the Chicago Bears’ scouting department has been known for is finding raw defensive prospects in the later rounds. Melton has aspects that can’t be coached and the rest of him that needs to be coached up if he winds up a Chicago Bear, he will be coached and developed by one of the best in the business.

All of the scouting reports on Melton are pretty consistent, they talk about all his upside, potential, athleticism, size and speed. After that the weaknesses are all what you would expect them to be. Gets beat in one on one situations, doesn’t use good leverage, has technique problems and on and on.

So the question is with the Bears’ obvious interest and furthermore their obvious need will they draft a player like Henry Melton and develop him over a couple years on special teams or potentially the practice squad. Will he ever live up to his potential? It’s one question that perhaps Rod Marinelli will be the one to answer.