The NFL offseason is moving along nicely and now the only remaining event preceding the draft is each school's pro days. This is the time for national scouts to get a more intimate look at first-grade talent and perhaps a more illuminating perspective on prospects who would otherwise go unnoticed.
This year is no different; of the few pro days that have already commenced, scouts are already noticing a few players that could provide significant value to a late-round pick. With nearly half of the workouts wrapped up, here is a look at a few guys who are riding the coattails of a good workout to an early berth and a few others who aren't.
Going into Cal's pro day, it was clear RB Jahvid Best was the headline event but Best opted to stand on his numbers from the combine, opening the door for the other Golden Bears to make an impression.
Despite feeling ill for the better part of the week, OT Mike Tepper performed a full work out for scouts, posting impressive numbers (5.25 and 5.29-second in the 40-yard; 7.66-second three-cone drill).
CB Syd'Quan Thompson also had a generally successful workout, running drills despite a tightened hamstring leading up to the pro day. He did not have overly impressive times in the 40-yard (4.75 and 4.77), but his willingness to "play injured" will speak volumes on his toughness to scouts.
Idaho's G/T Mike Iupati has garnered more attention of late than he ever imagined. He comes in to the draft with hopes of becoming the only guard to be taken off the board in the first two rounds. When asked about his love for the game, Iupati had this to say, "I really love defense. That's my favorite passion of the game of football."
The former Tiger has the size and the speed to be effective on either side of the ball and that versatility has made him a very intriguing prospect, despite him not performing in any way at Idaho's pro day, much to the chagrin of the 32 teams represented there.
Even Brown University had a contribution for the scouts who attended the school's pro day. DT David Howard, who did not receive an invitation to the combine, had a tremendous workout.
The 6'3", 293 pound tackle ran a 5.03 and 5.12 40-yard dash, posted a 32-inch vertical jump, 8-8 broad jump, 4.70 20-yard shuttle, 7.58 three-cone drill, and benched 27 repetitions of 225 pounds. Brown doesn't often produce elite NFL-ready prospects but after his workout, Howard has a chance now to get on the board in April.
It's hard to evaluate a player if scouts never see him perform; that being said, WR Eric Decker is slowly watching his draft stock dip to a mid to late-round projection. A nagging foot surgery prevented Decker from performing at the combine and he didn't have a chance to work out at Minnesota's pro day, either.
Decker's tape shows promise, but his athletic tangibles are hard to measure without a solid look at his performance drills. His surgery should be healed up in time for the draft, but there isn't much the Golden Gopher can do without the numbers to legitimize his status.
LSU's pro day should have been the time to call WR Brandon LaFell, RB Charles Scott, and OT Ciron Black for what they are; NFL-ready prospects who have tons of talent to offer any team. That didn't happen, though. Instead, the three big ex-Tiger players posted marginal numbers at best.
Instead, the lesser-known prospects CB Chris Hawkins, LB Perry Riley, and DT Al Woods took over the spotlight. All 32 teams were well represented at the workouts and nearly all of them left Death Valley with the consensus that LSU no longer offered first-round talent.
CB Jamar Wall of Texas Tech pulled a hamstring running the 40-yard dash and, despite the minor injury being a common one, scouts may view that as a durability concern. Football is no longer a contact sport; it's a game of collisions. Wall's inability to stay intact at his pro day may see him drop in April.
Oregon's LeGarrette Blount, a man on the rebound from two nagging character issues that flared up at the start of the 2009 season, was not present at the school's pro day. Blount's agent claims the back was scheduled to appear at the school's second pro day all along, but scouts that did show up were more than disappointed. These sorts of communication problems are never easily resolved nor are they easily forgotten.