Showtime: Five prospects must erase key draft concerns

With the draft about five weeks away, several top prospects — particularly quarterbacks — have doubters to convince. Here are five players with questions to answer during their pro days and private workouts:
 
Sam Bradford won't be the only one smiling if his pro day workout goes well.
Sam Bradford won’t be the only one smiling if his pro day workout goes well.

Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

Pro day: March 29
What’s at stake: Bradford has a chance to be the first player taken. The Rams hold the No. 1 pick and need a quarterback. However, Bradford did not throw at the Scouting Combine, so he needs a strong performance at his pro day to convince interested teams that his surgically repaired throwing shoulder is sound.
 
If the Rams are not sold on Bradford, they could opt for one of the top two defensive tackles — Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy. But if Bradford has an impressive pro day, interest in him will increase — not only from the Rams but from other teams that might be willing to trade up.
 
"I like Sam a lot," Browns president Mike Holmgren told reporters Wednesday.
 
The Browns hold the No. 7 pick. Asked if the team would be willing to trade up for Bradford, Holmgren said, "We haven’t had that discussion yet. We have some areas that we have to address that are as crucial now as the quarterback."
 
Dez Bryant could plunge in the first round if his speed doesn't pass muster.
Dez Bryant could plunge in the first round if his speed doesn’t pass muster.

Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

Pro day: March 30
What’s at stake: Though he is considered the top wide receiver prospect, a hamstring injury prevented Bryant from running at the Combine, so questions about his speed remain. There are also questions about Bryant’s character.
 
Projected by some to be a top-10 pick, Bryant could fall out of the top 20 if he does not run well. It has been months since scouts have seen Bryant on a football field. The NCAA suspended him the final 10 games of last season for lying about an informal visit he had with former NFL star Deion Sanders at Sanders’ home.
 
"There hasn’t been a receiver as talented as him since Calvin Johnson," former Sporting News draft analyst Todd McShay said during a Thursday conference call. "Dez Bryant is most likely not going to be a top-five pick, and there’s a real chance he might not be a top-11 pick. I feel badly. He had such an awful upbringing; it’s no wonder he’s dealing with a lot of things. There are reports of him showing up a half-hour before the game. It all stems back to his home situation growing up. NFL teams are concerned about it."
 
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
Pro day: April 9
What’s at stake: Clausen’s chances to be picked in the top 10 were hurt by the Seahawks’ decision to trade for quarterback Charlie Whitehurst on Wednesday. The Seahawks are now less likely to choose Clausen with the No. 6 pick. Clausen must convince the Redskins (No. 4 pick), the Browns (No. 7) or the Bills (No. 9) that he can be their franchise quarterback. If Clausen falls past the Bills, he could linger on the board for a while.
 
Jimmy Clausen must convince teams he's a top-10 pick; if not, he'll plummet.
Jimmy Clausen must convince teams he’s a top-10 pick; if not, he’ll plummet.

Clausen did not throw at the Combine, either, meaning he must show scouts NFL arm strength and accuracy during his pro day.

 
"I think he can make every throw," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "I think he’s got a big arm. I think he can drive the ball. My only issue on the field is sometimes, for instance in the USC game, I felt like he anticipated pressure that wasn’t there and got rid of the football early.
 
But as far as just natural physical ability, he has it."
 
Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
Pro day: March 31
What’s at stake: Bradford and Clausen are considered better prospects than McCoy, but McCoy can convince teams that he is worthy of a second-round pick with a good pro day. It will be interesting to see which quarterback is drafted first — McCoy or Tim Tebow. Both are proven winners, but people wonder if McCoy’s smallish size (6-1, 217 pounds) by NFL quarterback standards will hurt him. McCoy hopes to follow in the footsteps of Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who has become one of the league’s best quarterbacks at 6-foot even.
 
"If my name’s mentioned in the same sentence as his, that’s an honor to me," said McCoy, who also did not throw at the Combine because of a shoulder injury. "I’m determined, I have a lot of intangibles. I’m excited about this process, and my shoulder is going to be completely fine."
 
What’s at stake: Did Robinson do enough at his Thursday pro day to convince teams he should be a first-round pick? We will see. Cornerbacks are coveted in the draft, but there are a lot to choose from at that position. Florida’s Joe Haden, Boise State’s Kyle Wilson and Rutgers’ Devin McCourty could all go in the first round. But Robinson will be in the first-round mix if he convinces teams he can be more consistent — and more physical.
 
"He’s got the best feet of any corner in the draft," Mayock said. "On tape, he’s inconsistent. One game he looks great; the next game it looks like he doesn’t care. He’s a gifted, gifted kid, but he’s not a trained killer. He will not consistently hit people."
 
This story appears in March 19’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today.
 
Senior writer Clifton Brown covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.;
With the draft about five weeks away, several top prospects — particularly quarterbacks — have doubters to convince. Here are five players with questions to answer during their pro days and private workouts:
 
Sam Bradford won't be the only one smiling if his pro day workout goes well.
Sam Bradford won’t be the only one smiling if his pro day workout goes well.

Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

Pro day: March 29
What’s at stake: Bradford has a chance to be the first player taken. The Rams hold the No. 1 pick and need a quarterback. However, Bradford did not throw at the Scouting Combine, so he needs a strong performance at his pro day to convince interested teams that his surgically repaired throwing shoulder is sound.
 
If the Rams are not sold on Bradford, they could opt for one of the top two defensive tackles — Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy. But if Bradford has an impressive pro day, interest in him will increase — not only from the Rams but from other teams that might be willing to trade up.
 
"I like Sam a lot," Browns president Mike Holmgren told reporters Wednesday.
 
The Browns hold the No. 7 pick. Asked if the team would be willing to trade up for Bradford, Holmgren said, "We haven’t had that discussion yet. We have some areas that we have to address that are as crucial now as the quarterback."
 
Dez Bryant could plunge in the first round if his speed doesn't pass muster.
Dez Bryant could plunge in the first round if his speed doesn’t pass muster.

Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

Pro day: March 30
What’s at stake: Though he is considered the top wide receiver prospect, a hamstring injury prevented Bryant from running at the Combine, so questions about his speed remain. There are also questions about Bryant’s character.
 
Projected by some to be a top-10 pick, Bryant could fall out of the top 20 if he does not run well. It has been months since scouts have seen Bryant on a football field. The NCAA suspended him the final 10 games of last season for lying about an informal visit he had with former NFL star Deion Sanders at Sanders’ home.
 
"There hasn’t been a receiver as talented as him since Calvin Johnson," former Sporting News draft analyst Todd McShay said during a Thursday conference call. "Dez Bryant is most likely not going to be a top-five pick, and there’s a real chance he might not be a top-11 pick. I feel badly. He had such an awful upbringing; it’s no wonder he’s dealing with a lot of things. There are reports of him showing up a half-hour before the game. It all stems back to his home situation growing up. NFL teams are concerned about it."
 
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
Pro day: April 9
What’s at stake: Clausen’s chances to be picked in the top 10 were hurt by the Seahawks’ decision to trade for quarterback Charlie Whitehurst on Wednesday. The Seahawks are now less likely to choose Clausen with the No. 6 pick. Clausen must convince the Redskins (No. 4 pick), the Browns (No. 7) or the Bills (No. 9) that he can be their franchise quarterback. If Clausen falls past the Bills, he could linger on the board for a while.
 
Jimmy Clausen must convince teams he's a top-10 pick; if not, he'll plummet.
Jimmy Clausen must convince teams he’s a top-10 pick; if not, he’ll plummet.

Clausen did not throw at the Combine, either, meaning he must show scouts NFL arm strength and accuracy during his pro day.

 
"I think he can make every throw," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "I think he’s got a big arm. I think he can drive the ball. My only issue on the field is sometimes, for instance in the USC game, I felt like he anticipated pressure that wasn’t there and got rid of the football early.
 
But as far as just natural physical ability, he has it."
 
Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
Pro day: March 31
What’s at stake: Bradford and Clausen are considered better prospects than McCoy, but McCoy can convince teams that he is worthy of a second-round pick with a good pro day. It will be interesting to see which quarterback is drafted first — McCoy or Tim Tebow. Both are proven winners, but people wonder if McCoy’s smallish size (6-1, 217 pounds) by NFL quarterback standards will hurt him. McCoy hopes to follow in the footsteps of Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who has become one of the league’s best quarterbacks at 6-foot even.
 
"If my name’s mentioned in the same sentence as his, that’s an honor to me," said McCoy, who also did not throw at the Combine because of a shoulder injury. "I’m determined, I have a lot of intangibles. I’m excited about this process, and my shoulder is going to be completely fine."
 
What’s at stake: Did Robinson do enough at his Thursday pro day to convince teams he should be a first-round pick? We will see. Cornerbacks are coveted in the draft, but there are a lot to choose from at that position. Florida’s Joe Haden, Boise State’s Kyle Wilson and Rutgers’ Devin McCourty could all go in the first round. But Robinson will be in the first-round mix if he convinces teams he can be more consistent — and more physical.
 
"He’s got the best feet of any corner in the draft," Mayock said. "On tape, he’s inconsistent. One game he looks great; the next game it looks like he doesn’t care. He’s a gifted, gifted kid, but he’s not a trained killer. He will not consistently hit people."
 
This story appears in March 19’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today.
 
Senior writer Clifton Brown covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.;

Leave a Reply

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

*