NFL Draft notes

The final few pro-days are finishing off the '06 schedule as scouts, coaches and general managers make their way to USC for Sunday mornings workout. Plenty of news to talk about as teams have been very active, preparing to pare down draft boards. The Chargers have kept tabs on another former basketball player.

Hawaii had their workout last week, the infamous Home Depot Center pro-day in Carson, California.  This day is almost as well known for players from the southern California area who perform for scouts as much as it is of interest for the prospects from Hawaii.

The Oakland Raiders seem to like yet another San Diego State linebacker.  After having great success with Kirk Morrison last year the team brought Aztec senior Freddie Keiaho to Carson and individually worked him out on linebacker drills.

Offensive guard Brandon Eaton surprised some with a 33.5-inch vertical jump though his forty time was disappointing.  Eaton is unlikely to be selected in the draft yet his lower body strength and explosion impressed the scouts on hand.

One Warrior defender who stood out was Nkeruwem Akpen.  Looking impressive at 6-feet-5.5-inches and 274-pounds, Akpen clocked a 4.96/4.89 for his forties, turned in a vertical jump of 34-inches and completed 22-reps on the bench.  We spoke about Akpen, a basketball player at Hawaii, on our pre-season watch list yet he saw minimal action last year.

The good news coming out of Hawaii is both Leonard Peters and Melila Purcell each received another year of eligibility on the college field.  Peters was a highly rated safety coming into the year yet tore his knee up against USC during the season's first game.  Purcell, at one time a pass rushing terror, got his academics in order and hopes to right his game next year.

In other news from Carson, staying true to form the New England Patriots requested that Cal defensive back Donnie McCleskey workout out for the team at the Home Depot Center.  The senior obliged and ran a pair of 4.69-forties.

We previously gave subscribers the heads-up about soon-to-be tight end Nick Vander Laan during our Senior Bowl coverage from Mobile.  The former basketball player from Concordia, who started his career at Virginia, has been very impressive recently.  Officially measuring 6-feet-7.5-inches and 275-pounds, Vander Laan recently timed a 4.95 and 5.10 in the forty, also posting a vertical jump of 31-inches.  Scouts feel he could make a roster as a third tight end used in blocking situations and eventually develop into an offensive tackle.  Many feel he possesses both the size and feet to handle the job on the blind side.

Is Vander Laan draft eligible?  No one's made that decision just yet.  He is two years removed from NCAA basketball eligibility and there is some thought he will just be put on the free agent market. Interestingly enough, the San Diego Chargers have kept tabs on the hulking tight end to be.

Even though they recently resigned veteran Jon Runyan, the Philadelphia Eagles still have a clear interest in USC offensive tackle Winston Justice.  Individually working him out two weeks ago, the team is bringing Justice to the Nova Center for a visit in the next ten days.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also have shown a lot of interest in the big Trojan blocker.

Another player the Eagles have closely monitored is Florida receiver Chad Jackson.  Andy Reid individually worked out the big pass catcher and interviewed him afterwards, coming away very impressed.  So did Nick Saban of the Miami Dolphins as the team has twice sat down with Jackson.  

Add the New England Patriots to the list of organizations who have highly considered Jackson.  Sources have told us if the receiver starts to slide don't be surprised if New England trades up to secure his services.

Other notes on player interests.

Daniel Bullocks has been heavily scouted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders.  Both the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons have sent full coaching staffs to workout the Nebraska safety.

Mike Bell is getting long looks from the Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Giants as well as the Washington Redskins

The Colts sent a staff to individually workout Wyoming quarterback Corey Bramlet.  They compare Bramlet to a "poor man's Peyton Manning" and specifically like him as a third quarterback who can break down film for the organizations franchise signal caller.

Richard Marshall is getting a lot of consideration from the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs.


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