Oregon’s Blount needs solid A’s to Combine Q’s

All of the 329 players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis have questions they need to answer. Some have bigger questions than others.

These five players will be among those who undergo the most scrutiny by NFL general managers, coaches and scouts during interviews and drills in Indy.

As Ricky Ricardo would say, they have some ‘splainin’ to do.

LeGarrette Blount will need to answer to prospective employers at the Combine.
LeGarrette Blount will need to answer to prospective employers at the Combine.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Oregon

After being suspended indefinitely last February by former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti for "failure to fulfill team obligations," Blount was reinstated by new coach Chip Kelly before the 2009 season. Then, after the Ducks’ season-opening loss, Blount punched a Boise State player, confronted fans and was suspended again.

Blount rejoined the team late in the season but played in only two more games — the Civil War contest against Oregon State and the Rose Bowl against Ohio State. He finished the ’09 season with only 22 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Not only did Blount force scouts to dig into the past to evaluate his ability — they had to go back to tape from the ’08 season — but he raised a major red flag with his physical and emotional outburst in Boise.

"I think that is a concern," an AFC college scouting director said. "It’s one thing to just snap and throw a punch. That happens in the NFL; you see it. It’s another thing to absolutely go off the handle and start getting into it with the crowd. Because of that moment, the doubt is going to be on him for a long, long time. Everybody is going to be waiting for the shoe to drop again."

Jevan Snead, QB, Mississippi

The 2009 NFL draft had barely ended when some pundits started putting out mock drafts for ’10. Back then, Snead was considered a top 10 pick based largely, perhaps, on one good half’s performance against Florida. Since then, Snead’s stock has fallen.

After throwing 26 touchdown passes, getting intercepted only 13 times and finishing with a 145.50 passer rating in ’08, Snead’s corresponding numbers were 20, 20 and 124.82 this past season. Snead is big and has a strong arm, but many talent evaluators question his accuracy and decision making.

"This is a guy who’s got a lot riding (on his Combine performance)," the AFC college scouting director said. "He’s going to have to show accuracy (in the passing drills). He’s going to have to show a mental aptitude for the game for people to feel comfortable with him."

Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

The defensive MVP of the national championship game a year ago, Dunlap has the size, athleticism and long arms you want in a defensive end. But scouts wonder if he has the passion and competitiveness to be a consistent playmaker. It seemed like Dunlap would make two or three outstanding plays every game, then would disappear the rest of the time.

"There are teams thinking he’s almost a Vernon Gholston bust waiting to happen," the War Room’s Russ Lande said, referring to the Jets’ first-round pick in ’08 who thus far has been a failure in the NFL.

Greg Hardy, DE, Mississippi

Hardy has first-round talent and seventh-round attitude. During his four-year career, he had 39 tackles for losses and 26 1/2 sacks, including a Southeastern Conference-leading 10 sacks in ’07. But some scouts question his passion for the game. He often was late for practice, and he didn’t perform consistently.

"His work ethic is terrible," another AFC college scouting director said. "He’s a guy who likes to play on Saturday but doesn’t like to do the stuff in between."

Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU

After catching 57 passes for 792 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, LaFell skipped the Senior Bowl — the most prestigious college all-star game‹deciding it wasn’t in his best interests to participate. That puzzled many scouts, who already were skeptical about LaFell’s speed.

"A lot of teams view him as more of a second- or third-round type guy despite the fact he was a first-rounder when the year began," Lande said. "Some people wonder since he didn’t come to the Senior Bowl if he’s going to pull a ‘no workout’ at the Combine and just leave it all on his pro day. I think it would be terrifyingly risky for a guy who can’t run."

This story appears in Feb. 24’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today for free.

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

All of the 329 players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis have questions they need to answer. Some have bigger questions than others.

These five players will be among those who undergo the most scrutiny by NFL general managers, coaches and scouts during interviews and drills in Indy.

As Ricky Ricardo would say, they have some ‘splainin’ to do.

LeGarrette Blount will need to answer to prospective employers at the Combine.
LeGarrette Blount will need to answer to prospective employers at the Combine.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Oregon

After being suspended indefinitely last February by former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti for "failure to fulfill team obligations," Blount was reinstated by new coach Chip Kelly before the 2009 season. Then, after the Ducks’ season-opening loss, Blount punched a Boise State player, confronted fans and was suspended again.

Blount rejoined the team late in the season but played in only two more games — the Civil War contest against Oregon State and the Rose Bowl against Ohio State. He finished the ’09 season with only 22 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Not only did Blount force scouts to dig into the past to evaluate his ability — they had to go back to tape from the ’08 season — but he raised a major red flag with his physical and emotional outburst in Boise.

"I think that is a concern," an AFC college scouting director said. "It’s one thing to just snap and throw a punch. That happens in the NFL; you see it. It’s another thing to absolutely go off the handle and start getting into it with the crowd. Because of that moment, the doubt is going to be on him for a long, long time. Everybody is going to be waiting for the shoe to drop again."

Jevan Snead, QB, Mississippi

The 2009 NFL draft had barely ended when some pundits started putting out mock drafts for ’10. Back then, Snead was considered a top 10 pick based largely, perhaps, on one good half’s performance against Florida. Since then, Snead’s stock has fallen.

After throwing 26 touchdown passes, getting intercepted only 13 times and finishing with a 145.50 passer rating in ’08, Snead’s corresponding numbers were 20, 20 and 124.82 this past season. Snead is big and has a strong arm, but many talent evaluators question his accuracy and decision making.

"This is a guy who’s got a lot riding (on his Combine performance)," the AFC college scouting director said. "He’s going to have to show accuracy (in the passing drills). He’s going to have to show a mental aptitude for the game for people to feel comfortable with him."

Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

The defensive MVP of the national championship game a year ago, Dunlap has the size, athleticism and long arms you want in a defensive end. But scouts wonder if he has the passion and competitiveness to be a consistent playmaker. It seemed like Dunlap would make two or three outstanding plays every game, then would disappear the rest of the time.

"There are teams thinking he’s almost a Vernon Gholston bust waiting to happen," the War Room’s Russ Lande said, referring to the Jets’ first-round pick in ’08 who thus far has been a failure in the NFL.

Greg Hardy, DE, Mississippi

Hardy has first-round talent and seventh-round attitude. During his four-year career, he had 39 tackles for losses and 26 1/2 sacks, including a Southeastern Conference-leading 10 sacks in ’07. But some scouts question his passion for the game. He often was late for practice, and he didn’t perform consistently.

"His work ethic is terrible," another AFC college scouting director said. "He’s a guy who likes to play on Saturday but doesn’t like to do the stuff in between."

Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU

After catching 57 passes for 792 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, LaFell skipped the Senior Bowl — the most prestigious college all-star game‹deciding it wasn’t in his best interests to participate. That puzzled many scouts, who already were skeptical about LaFell’s speed.

"A lot of teams view him as more of a second- or third-round type guy despite the fact he was a first-rounder when the year began," Lande said. "Some people wonder since he didn’t come to the Senior Bowl if he’s going to pull a ‘no workout’ at the Combine and just leave it all on his pro day. I think it would be terrifyingly risky for a guy who can’t run."

This story appears in Feb. 24’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today for free.

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*