Alex Mack is packing his bags for a pair of visits to AFC North teams this week. According to a source, the former Cal center will spend some time in Baltimore visiting with the Ravens and will also be making a stop in Cleveland to visit with the Browns.
The interesting dynamic at play is that unless the Browns plan to make Mack, Scout.com's top-rated center in this draft class, the No. 5 pick overall, the Ravens could certainly pluck him off the board at No. 26 before Cleveland gets another shot at selecting him.
Another one of the many teams who have been showing interest in Mack is the Atlanta Falcons, who could snag the 6-foot-4, 307-pound center before the Ravens at No. 24 overall. The Falcons are scheduled to work him out on campus on April 3.
All three teams would benefit from Mack's football intelligence and aggressive, but technically-sound style of play. He would be a real asset to any team's offensive line, making the needed adjustments to help protect a young quarterback like Joe Flacco, Brady Quinn or Matt Ryan.
"I think I?m known for being an aggressive offensive lineman. I think I bring a lot to the table as far as finishing plays, playing to the whistle," Mack told the media at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "In my play, I have a lot of offer as far as attitude on the offensive line."
Mack was the 2008 winner of the Draddy Award, often referred to as the "Academic Heisman" that is awarded to the college football player who excels on the field, in the classroom and in serving the community.
Norfolk State's Don Carey may be from a smaller school, but his skills and intelligence at the cornerback position have certainly been noticed by NFL talent evaluators. He's was only the third player in the school's history to be invited to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine.
Don Carey at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Carey told Scout.com during an exclusive interview that he had formal interviews with the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Combine. And he's already been put through private workouts by the Seattle Seahawks, on March 16, and the Miami Dolphins, on March 19. The Dolphins are so interested in the 5-foot-11, 192-pound defensive back that they've also invited him for an official visit on April 7.
An extremely bright and hardworking individual, Carey had the grades to gain acceptance at Yale. But when the school didn't offer a football scholarship as well, finances kept him from pursuing that opportunity. So Carey pursued his college education and football career at Norfolk State, where he's currently the head tutor in his department when he's not playing football.
Carey's four years of starting experience and his depth of football intelligence have been a real asset during his conversations with NFL coaches and scouts.
"It's one thing to watch film on a guy and see how he plays on the field. But when you're able to sit down and get into face-to-face conversations, get inside his head, learn how well he knows the game and what direction he's going with his life, you get a more complete impression of him," he explained. "I think I've impressed a lot of people with my knowledge of the game, how well I was able to comprehend their playbook and explain my own."
During his senior year, Carey intercepted five passes, recovered a pair of fumbles, made 42 tackles, defended six passes and blocked a kick.
University of Connecticut defensive end Cody Brown, who's likely to make the shift to linebacker in the NFL, worked out for two teams last week. According to a source, the Denver Broncos linebacker coach, Don Martindale, flew in to put Brown through some drills on Friday, March 20, a day after the 6-foot-2, 244-pound defender worked out for the New England Patriots.
Brown has been encouraged by the feedback he's been hearing from NFL scouts and coaches during workouts and during his interaction with them at the Combine.
"Everybody seems to like my style of play. They've thought I have good intensity and use my hands well," he told Scout.com. "A lot of them say they like the way that I make plays in the backfield."
While his weight may lead many to believe he's only being considered as a linebacker at the next level, Brown said that a few teams have talked to him about playing up on the defensive line as he did in college.
"San Francisco and Carolina both said that they would like me to play end. I think the Rams even said something about me playing there," Brown said. "Every other team is pretty much saying linebacker, except in some of their defenses where I might move up to end."
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel was drafted by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of the University of Central Florida. And now the Patriots are checking out another talented cornerback out of UCF by the name of Joe Burnett, a player of such high interest to them that head coach Bill Belichick made the trip to Florida to watch Burnett during a private workout on March 19, as first reported at Scout.com by Charlie Bernstein at our UCF site.
Joe Burnett celebrates after a victory.
AP Photo/Reinhold Matay
Burnett told Scout.com during a recent phone interview that he had already completed a workout for the Cleveland Browns on March 12, and he has an official visit scheduled with the Pittsburgh Steelers on April 1. At the Combine, he had formal interviews with the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Indianapolis Colts.
In addition to his skills as a cornerback, Burnett led Conference USA in both punt returns average (14.54 yards) and kickoff returns average (28.65 yards). He also finished in the top ten nationally in both categories.
Burnett had toyed with the thought of declaring early and entering the draft after his junior season, but said that returning for his final year was definitely the best decision.
"One of the highlights that I'm most proud of is that I graduated, and that's the best feeling I've ever had, better than running touchdowns back or catching an interception," he said.
And now that it's time for Burnett to move on and pursue his NFL dream, he's ready to make an impact at the next level.
"I think I'm a great cornerback who can cover from all positions and who can recognize routes. I'm a really good bump-and-run cornerback who has seen a lot of schemes, who adjusts well and is able to learn quickly," he said. "They're going to get a very versatile guy who can play corner, play in the slot, and who can also handle returns."
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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter for NFL updates and insights. And you can contact him by email through this link.