Bradham is the best pro prospect
Despite him being a reliable four-year starter and a first-team All-ACC pick as a senior this past season, a lot of Florida State fans were surprised to hear that offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders was getting first-round chatter from talent evaluators. His stock seems to be somewhat on the decline, as his outing at the Senior Bowl was average and his numbers from the Scouting Combine were good but not great, although he still shouldn't slip past Round 2. Nevertheless, don't be shocked if Sanders is actually the second Seminole to hear his name called next month in the NFL Draft, not the first, as linebacker Nigel Bradham has done nothing but improve his grade -- dramatically, as a matter of fact -- throughout the pre-draft process.
While Bradham only did positional drills Wednesday at Doak Campbell Stadium, he had the build of a Greek god when he took his shirt off, looked awfully smooth changing directions and didn't drop a single pass.
Datko made the correct decision
Once he was shelved with a shoulder problem just four games into the 2011 campaign, FSU fans were under the impression that offensive tackle Andrew Datko would seek a medical redshirt and return to Tallahassee if granted a fifth year of eligibility. But he already had his degree and 40 career starts under his belt, and since agent Drew Rosenhaus has a history of getting injured players selected fairly high in the draft -- remember how he bullied Miami tailback Willis McGahee into Round 1 back in 2003? -- the Ft. Lauderdale native decided to say goodbye to the 'Noles and turn pro. Unable to bench press at the combine because not enough time had passed since his surgery, he did perform well in all of the running and jumping tests.
Finally able to get back on the bench press Wednesday, Datko put up 225 pounds 20 times, and even if that isn't a huge number for a lineman, it's pretty strong for a guy coming off surgery that's only been bench pressing again the last month or so.
Tailbacks don't get a fair shake
Neither Jermaine Thomas nor Ty Jones is a candidate to get drafted in April, but if they were, Pro Day is not the best environment to get noticed by scouts if you're a ball carrier. During positional drills, the tailbacks do little more than run routes and catch passes -- absolutely nothing is done that resembles a running play. Thomas ran fairly crisp patterns and caught most everything thrown his way, but Jones didn't appear to be particularly athletic and has probably played his last football.
In terms of testing, Thomas' time in the 40-yard dash (4.62 seconds) was average and Jones' (4.75) was below average, plus their vertical jumps (30.5 inches for Thomas, 30 for Jones) weren't much better than Datko's (29.4).
Harris helped himself the most
If there is but one former Florida State player that truly helped himself Wednesday, cornerback Mike Harris might have emerged from potential undrafted free agent status and found his way into the sixth or seventh round. While his 40 (4.53 seconds) wasn't blazing, he posted the best times of the day in the three-come drill (6.83), 20-yard shuttle (4.07) and 60-yard shuttle (11.31) -- translated: he may not be fast, but he sure is quick. His vertical jump (36 inches) trailed only the freakish Bradham (37), and his broad jump (9-9) tied Bradham for first.
Measuring 5-11 and a sturdy 195 pounds, Harris is going to be in camp for a team if for no other reason than the fact that the NFL in 2012 is all about the passing game on offense and stopping the passing game on defense.
Reed should consider the CFL
Robbed of a sizable portion of his senior season due to a lingering ankle injury, receiver Bert Reed wasn't invited to the Senior Bowl -- he had to settle for the Battle of Florida, which showcases very little NFL-caliber talent -- or the Scouting Combine and has to make up ground during the evaluation process. His 40 time of 4.46 seconds simply isn't impressive enough for a 5-10, 183-pounder whose only chance is to be a slot pass catcher and kick returner, and then his cone drills and shuttle runs were rather unimpressive because he had issues with a slick surface caused by morning dew. To top it off, the positional-drill quarterbacking was dreadful, so he didn't have much of a chance to turn heads.
There was a scout at Pro Day from the Hamilton Tigercats of the CFL, and heading to Canada may be a wise move for a shifty wideout like Reed because of the bigger field and increased reliance on throwing the ball.
John Crist is the editor-in-chief of NoleDigest.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
What We Learned: Pro Day Observations
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