2012 NFL Draft: 5 Players with Falling Stocks That Badly Need Strong Pro Days
We're now in the heart of "Pro Day" season, where collegiate athletes around the nation take to their home fields for one last time in an effort to make a final positive impression on NFL scouts and coaches before April's NFL Draft.
For some players, pro days are a mere formality, and many players skip many of the drills at their pro day, choosing instead to "stand pat" after a strong showing at February's NFL Scouting Combine.
However, for players that fell flat in Indianapolis, their pro day can be the last chance to revitalize their lagging draft stock, and this handful of collegiate stars had best take full advantage of that final opportunity.
Vinny Curry: DE/OLB, Marshall (March 13)
Defensive end Vinny Curry of Marshall was viewed by many pundits as a potential first-round pick in the 2012 draft after a senior season in which the 6'3" 266-pounder tallied an impressive 77 total tackles, 11 sacks and seven forced fumbles, and many NFL teams were reported to be interested in Curry as a 3-4 rush linebacker.
However, Curry chose not to participate in the bench press at the combine, ran a moribund 4.85 second 40-yard dash, and gave some scouts pause with his relatively short 32.75-inch arms, so it's vital that Curry display better speed and agility at the combine if he wants to work his way back into the draft's first round.
Vontaze Burfict: ILB, Arizona State (March 16)
There is no player among all the prospects entering the NFL draft in more desperate need of an otherworldly pro day than Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict, whose draft stock is falling at a rate that it would take an MIT graduate to calculate after a combine that was an unmitigated disaster.
Short of displaying the ability to fly in Tempe on March 16 (and I mean literally fly, like Superman) there's no chance that Burfict can regain the first-round status that some felt he had a few months ago, and Sport Illustrated's Don Banks gave the enigmatic Sun Devil his "Career Self-Destruction Award" after the combine, stating:
Burfict thinks he's a misunderstood first-round talent. The league is more likely to give him an underachiever's third-round grade. And factoring in his winning personality and personal baggage, don't be surprised if you don't hear his name called on draft weekend until the third and final day.
Audie Cole: MLB, North Carolina State (March 21)
Heading into the combine, North Carolina State linebacker Audie Cole was considered one of the top 4-3 middle linebacker prospects in this year's draft class after a 2011 season in which the 6'4" 246-pound senior topped 100 tackles while chipping in 5.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.
However, Cole flopped badly in Indianapolis, managing only 19 reps on the bench press, running a so-so 4.72-yard 40-yard dash and performing poorly in position drills. Unless Cole shines at the Wolfpack's pro day, he's likely pigeonholed himself as a two-down run-stuffer and mid-round pick at best.
Michael Brockers: DT, LSU (March 22)
Defensive tackle Michael Brockers of LSU was considered a first-round lock by most draftniks coming into February's scouting combine, and more than one pundit, including Bleacher Report's own NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller, still has the 6'5" 322-pound Brockers as a top 10 pick in April's draft.
However, the combine was not especially kind to Brockers, as only two defensive linemen turned in slower 40-yard dash times and Brockers did not participate in the bench press. The All-SEC standout could definitely use a better showing at the Tigers' pro day if Mr. Miller's prognostication is to be proven correct.
Alshon Jeffery: WR, South Carolina (March 28)
Speaking of one of Matt Miller's personal favorites, South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has been touted as perhaps the top wide receiver in this year's draft class by Bleacher Report's resident NFL draft guru for some time now.
However, while the 6'3" 216-pounder did show up at the combine in excellent shape, his somewhat puzzling decision not to work out and shaky interviews have left his draft stock very much in flux, and Jeffery could go a long way towards stabilizing it with a strong workout at the Gamecocks' pro day.