Draft Dish: McCoy, Suh among players ready for pro day workouts

Although the NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone, the scouting process is far from over. Even if a player had a great Combine workout and chooses not to participate in all tests in his on-campus workout, his performance in drills with NFL position coaches is as important as what he did in Indianapolis. However, it is important to remember the pro day workout and a player’s Combine performance is only a small part of a player evaluation. NFL teams that rely most heavily on game film are the teams that consistently draft well. Still, a number of NFL prospects have important workouts this week:

Can Gerald McCoy show scouts that he's a better defensive tackle than Ndamukong Suh?
Can Gerald McCoy show scouts that he’s a better defensive tackle than Ndamukong Suh?

Monday

Levi Brown, QB, Troy. He lacks the big-name appeal of Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen, but Brown is the best small-school prospect and a legitimate mid-round prospect. With top-notch physical tools, Brown must prove he can do everything he showed on film when dropping back from under center. If he shines in front of NFL personnel men Monday, he could move into the third round.

Tuesday

Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma. McCoy must step up and keep the McCoy-Ndamukong Suh debate alive. Neither created much separation at the Combine, but Suh did have a better workout in Indy. Unless McCoy delivers Tuesday, Suh could well end the defensive tackle debate Thursday.

Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana. He has moved up draft boards more than any prospect this offseason. He was dominant at the East-West Shrine Game to move into the third round and then performed well at the Combine to move into second-round consideration. With a big on-campus workout, he could move to the top of the second round and many offensive tackles with such grades often go at the end of the first round–see Sam Baker and Duane Brown in ’08.

Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma. Many media members say Russell Okung is a lock to be the first offensive tackle drafted, but the debate is far from over. Williams is physically gifted with the thick build and strength to become an elite NFL tackle. He struggled to maintain his weight in college, so it’s important for him to show up in great shape and shine in his on-campus workout to ease concerns.

Wednesday

Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State. After missing nearly all of the ’09 season and then not working out at the Combine, Bryant must prove he has the elite quickness, explosiveness and speed to maintain his spot atop the receiver rankings.

Tony Pike must show he has the work ethic to play in the NFL.
Tony Pike must show he has the work ethic to play in the NFL.

Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama. Cody is the Tim Tebow of defensive players; opinions as to how successful he can be and where he will be drafted range drastically. After showing up out of shape at 370 pounds at the Senior Bowl, Cody helped himself at the Combine by checking in at 354 pounds and performing well in the double-team drill. To be a second- or third-round pick, he must weigh in Wednesday in the 340s and prove he has the endurance and athleticism to be play more than 15-20 snaps per game.

Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers. His on-field play was inconsistent at times in college, and he has had some weight issues. He was in good shape at the Combine, displaying surprising quickness, flexibility and athleticism. He reminds us of the Ravens’ Michael Oher and could move into the middle of the first round with a big pro day.

Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati. He must excel in his on-campus workout to stay in the mix for a late first-round pick because of his struggles during Senior Bowl practices. Scouts worry that he lacks the explosiveness and consistency catching the ball to be a first-rounder. With a mediocre performance Wednesday, he will drop to the second or third round.

Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama. McClain chose not to workout at the Combine, putting it all on the line in his pro day. Florida’s Brandon Spikes could well overtake McClain and be the first inside linebacker drafted, so McClain must run well Wednesday to maintain the top spot on most teams’ draft boards.

Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State. Okung–on top of most teams’ draft boards throughout the ’09 season–must perform well to stay ahead of Trent Williams, Bruce Campbell and Bryan Bulaga. Okung must be consistent in his technique in drills because he was beaten sometimes in ’09 by less-athletic pass rushers.

Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati. Bradford is the best QB in the draft and Clausen is well regarded, but Pike probably has more pure physical talent. Pike must throw with more consistent zip and accuracy Wednesday and prove he has a mental capacity and work ethic to grasp NFL passing concepts when at the blackboard. 

Thursday

Mike Iupati, G, Idaho. He is one of the most physically dominant guards to come along in years, but his on-campus workout remains important. First, a number of NFL personnel men say he can play tackle and if able to show elite athleticism his draft stock would move way up because tackles are more valuable. Second, he must prove he can harness his aggressiveness to pass block under better control.

Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska. Suh was rated as the top defensive prospect for most of the ’09 season, but in the last month McCoy and Tennessee safety Eric Berry have closed the gap. Suh helped himself with a strong Combine workout and if in positional drills Thursday he answers any questions about his explosiveness and strength, he would lock down the No. 1- or No. 2-overall pick. (Bradford would be the only prospect who could potentially pass him down the stretch.)

Corey Wootton, DE, Northwestern. He is a tall, long-armed and athletic end whose draft stock moved up with so many NFL teams needing ends for their 3-4 scheme. Wootton has a lot to prove before being a first-round pick, though. He must prove he has the passion and competitiveness to be consistently productive in the NFL and show he has the quickness and burst to be effective at end in a 4-3 scheme to maximize his draft stock.

Former NFL scout Russ Lande evaluates college players for Sporting News’ Pro Football War Room and GM Jr. Scouting LLC.

Although the NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone, the scouting process is far from over. Even if a player had a great Combine workout and chooses not to participate in all tests in his on-campus workout, his performance in drills with NFL position coaches is as important as what he did in Indianapolis. However, it is important to remember the pro day workout and a player’s Combine performance is only a small part of a player evaluation. NFL teams that rely most heavily on game film are the teams that consistently draft well. Still, a number of NFL prospects have important workouts this week:

Can Gerald McCoy show scouts that he's a better defensive tackle than Ndamukong Suh?
Can Gerald McCoy show scouts that he’s a better defensive tackle than Ndamukong Suh?

Monday

Levi Brown, QB, Troy. He lacks the big-name appeal of Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen, but Brown is the best small-school prospect and a legitimate mid-round prospect. With top-notch physical tools, Brown must prove he can do everything he showed on film when dropping back from under center. If he shines in front of NFL personnel men Monday, he could move into the third round.

Tuesday

Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma. McCoy must step up and keep the McCoy-Ndamukong Suh debate alive. Neither created much separation at the Combine, but Suh did have a better workout in Indy. Unless McCoy delivers Tuesday, Suh could well end the defensive tackle debate Thursday.

Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana. He has moved up draft boards more than any prospect this offseason. He was dominant at the East-West Shrine Game to move into the third round and then performed well at the Combine to move into second-round consideration. With a big on-campus workout, he could move to the top of the second round and many offensive tackles with such grades often go at the end of the first round–see Sam Baker and Duane Brown in ’08.

Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma. Many media members say Russell Okung is a lock to be the first offensive tackle drafted, but the debate is far from over. Williams is physically gifted with the thick build and strength to become an elite NFL tackle. He struggled to maintain his weight in college, so it’s important for him to show up in great shape and shine in his on-campus workout to ease concerns.

Wednesday

Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State. After missing nearly all of the ’09 season and then not working out at the Combine, Bryant must prove he has the elite quickness, explosiveness and speed to maintain his spot atop the receiver rankings.

Tony Pike must show he has the work ethic to play in the NFL.
Tony Pike must show he has the work ethic to play in the NFL.

Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama. Cody is the Tim Tebow of defensive players; opinions as to how successful he can be and where he will be drafted range drastically. After showing up out of shape at 370 pounds at the Senior Bowl, Cody helped himself at the Combine by checking in at 354 pounds and performing well in the double-team drill. To be a second- or third-round pick, he must weigh in Wednesday in the 340s and prove he has the endurance and athleticism to be play more than 15-20 snaps per game.

Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers. His on-field play was inconsistent at times in college, and he has had some weight issues. He was in good shape at the Combine, displaying surprising quickness, flexibility and athleticism. He reminds us of the Ravens’ Michael Oher and could move into the middle of the first round with a big pro day.

Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati. He must excel in his on-campus workout to stay in the mix for a late first-round pick because of his struggles during Senior Bowl practices. Scouts worry that he lacks the explosiveness and consistency catching the ball to be a first-rounder. With a mediocre performance Wednesday, he will drop to the second or third round.

Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama. McClain chose not to workout at the Combine, putting it all on the line in his pro day. Florida’s Brandon Spikes could well overtake McClain and be the first inside linebacker drafted, so McClain must run well Wednesday to maintain the top spot on most teams’ draft boards.

Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State. Okung–on top of most teams’ draft boards throughout the ’09 season–must perform well to stay ahead of Trent Williams, Bruce Campbell and Bryan Bulaga. Okung must be consistent in his technique in drills because he was beaten sometimes in ’09 by less-athletic pass rushers.

Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati. Bradford is the best QB in the draft and Clausen is well regarded, but Pike probably has more pure physical talent. Pike must throw with more consistent zip and accuracy Wednesday and prove he has a mental capacity and work ethic to grasp NFL passing concepts when at the blackboard. 

Thursday

Mike Iupati, G, Idaho. He is one of the most physically dominant guards to come along in years, but his on-campus workout remains important. First, a number of NFL personnel men say he can play tackle and if able to show elite athleticism his draft stock would move way up because tackles are more valuable. Second, he must prove he can harness his aggressiveness to pass block under better control.

Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska. Suh was rated as the top defensive prospect for most of the ’09 season, but in the last month McCoy and Tennessee safety Eric Berry have closed the gap. Suh helped himself with a strong Combine workout and if in positional drills Thursday he answers any questions about his explosiveness and strength, he would lock down the No. 1- or No. 2-overall pick. (Bradford would be the only prospect who could potentially pass him down the stretch.)

Corey Wootton, DE, Northwestern. He is a tall, long-armed and athletic end whose draft stock moved up with so many NFL teams needing ends for their 3-4 scheme. Wootton has a lot to prove before being a first-round pick, though. He must prove he has the passion and competitiveness to be consistently productive in the NFL and show he has the quickness and burst to be effective at end in a 4-3 scheme to maximize his draft stock.

Former NFL scout Russ Lande evaluates college players for Sporting News’ Pro Football War Room and GM Jr. Scouting LLC.

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