With three consecutive weeks of all-star games fresh in their minds, NFL scouts have the unenviable task of sifting through their daily practice notes to ascertain just who among the hundreds of players viewed at the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl, and Texas vs. Nation Game actually raised or lowered their ranking.
Clearly Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji and Colorado State running back Gartrell Johnson were among the early winners of the post-season all-star games. Unfortunately, just as clearly, Big 12 quarterbacks Graham Harrell (Texas Tech) and Chase Daniel (Missouri) were unable to shed the concerns about their lack of prototype arm strength and size during these games.
With many teams’ scouts only now getting an opportunity to huddle with their peers and share their impressions over the three a new group of Risers and Fallers has quietly emerged from the all-star game festivities. The most dramatic Fallers of the week, however, have nothing but their drug and alcohol habits to blame for their drop.
Other players that are rising and falling during post bowl game scouting meetings include juniors, who teams are just getting to know, and seniors who have regional scouts battling for "their guy" or telling his superiors that he's not worth contacting until after the draft. A few of each are also listed in this week's Risers and Fallers.
1. Alex Boone, OT, Ohio State - Stock Current Rating: 2009 Draft Scout #21 OT, Overall #215, Compiled Projected Round(s): 6-7
A First-team All-Big Ten selection and likely mid-round draft pick last week, Boone may have eliminated any chance of his being drafted after police allegedly had to control the 6-7, 330 pound offensive tackle with a Taser. Arrested shortly before midnight on Sunday, February 1st, police arrived on the scene to see Boone reportedly jumping on car hoods and yanking a tow-truck cable. The arrest was Boone’s second for an alcohol related offense. He was also arrested for drunk driving in April of 2006.
Boone wasn’t the only former Big Ten star to risk his NFL future with illegal drug use, as Evans learned February 3rd that he was being place on Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition and probation for one year for his arrest five months previous for marijuana possession. Evans’ stock had already been down after posting only 3 sacks in 2008, after leading the Nittany Lions with 12.5 sacks in 2007 and ranking as a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s elite defensive end.
By most accounts Cushing was among the more impressive linebackers throughout the week of practice at the Senior Bowl. Rather than focusing on his athleticism and instincts on the field, however, scouts in the stands were buzzing about reports that Cushing spends thousands of dollars a month on nutritional supplements. While no one is claiming Cushing’s supplements should be confused with illegal steroids, it does raise questions about how maxed out Cushing may already be – questions that could push the All-American down the board some considering the top-end talent this year at linebacker.
Considering his experience (47 career starts) and pedigree (four year all-conference selection, 2008 All-American), it might seem unfair of scouts to drop Mickens after he was forced to leave the Senior Bowl early due to inflammation in his knee. Considering that he was characterized by head coach Brian Kelly as “100%” prior to the Bearcats loss to Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, scouts expected to see him perform well in Mobile. Mickens did not appear to be himself early in the week of practice, however. This, along with the fact that Mickens weighed in at only 176 pounds, raised doubts even in the minds of scouts who were once Mickens’ supporters. A strong showing at the Senior Bowl could have put Mickens into the first round. If unable to post an impressive workout at the Combine, Mickens now could slide into the third.
Taylor certainly doesn’t have the prototypical build scouts are looking for in a dominating defensive tackle, but that is exactly what appeared to be as a junior, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. Taylor’s play dropped off as a senior, however, and dropped even further with a disappointing week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game. If there were teams operating a 4-3 alignment that had interest in the squarely built Taylor, they likely lost interest after the former Wolverine showed virtually no lateral burst or agility in separating from blocks. A team operating out of the 30 scheme may still consider bringing Taylor aboard, but with little competition for his services, Taylor could be on the board late on Sunday or perhaps even go undrafted.
In the middle of the 2008 season, teams were very interested in Davis. However, they are now reviewing tapes of his poor play at the end of the season. He certainly has potential, and is likely to fall late in the third round. But considering he was considered in the same class as Freeman early in the year…that's a step backwards.
His 6-3, 205-pound frame and sub 4.5 speed got him an invite to the Senior Bowl. But his up-and-down play and inability to stay healthy during the week in Mobile, along with less-than-impressive production after Brandon Tate went down earlier this season, are devaluing his stock.
Although he's a technically solid player who uses his hands well, Shaughnessy's inability to beat any tackle with a speed rush off the edge this year really turned off scouts. He came into the season expected to fight for a second round grade, but now he will likely end up a late third or fourth round pick.
Unfortunately, Sintim did little wrong to deserve "Faller" status. He did look a bit stiff during Senior Bowl practices but the ascension of Matthews and Maybin, along with the likely switch of Northern Illinois DE Larry English to a 3-4 linebacker, have dropped Sintim's relative stock. A team could get a great deal on Sintim in the second round.
His build and athleticism are not questioned. Scouts are concerned, however, that he does not have the mental discipline or short area quickness to handle top receivers at the next level. Even if he runs a great 40 yard dash in Indy, the 6-2, 210-pound Smith will remind some teams of disappointing corners of similar size from previous drafts (Julian Battle, Mike Rumph, Matt Ware), not an elite talent like Nnamdi Asomugha.
02/10/09 - Chad Reuter & Rob Rang, Draft Analysts, The SportsXchange