Showing up for his Pro Day workout at 324lb's, proceeded to put on a show for the scouts, clocking sub 4.9's over 40 yards and excelling in the other runs. I can't see that surprised me as he has shown considerable athletic ability on the football field. I'm certain he is a top 10 pick – maybe even a top 5 choice – and if not the first DT selected, I firmly believe the NFL team passing him over for another prospect at the position has made a big mistake. He's been invited to NY for the draft itself soothe likelihood is that the consensus of teams in the NFL also believe he rates very highly.
I finally got around to viewing Jimmy Kennedy (Penn State) in the game against Iowa to see how he got on against a pair of solid interior OL prospects on the Hawkeye line and was once again disappointed in his performance. He really didn't do much at all, failing to get any pressure on the QB at any stage in the game and only showing up to stop the run occasionally. For the most part, he looked big and fluid in his movements but nothing like an impact player and definitely one who appears to play in spurts. After appearing so fast on film, his Pro day results were also more than a bit disappointing overall, averaging in just the 5.2 range rather than the sub 5 second times expected as well as showing less explosive power in the jumps. I still have him 3rd on my DT chart as he doesn't have the same physical abilities or pass rush skills of the top-rated duo on my board, Robertson and Williams though he may yet be a top 10 pick.
The Pro Day results of Rien Long (Washington State) have been causing a bit of a stir with different ‘numbers' being fed to different sites and all of them insisting that their version is the most accurate ‘from NFL teams sources'. At the end of the day, only the NFL teams may not what the real results were but from a draftnik's perspective I rate a guy more based on what I see him do on the field rather than what happens in shorts and a T-shirt out of season. It must be said though, that with just 18 reps on the bench press, he needs a lot of work in the weight room before he can start to use his size to generate a consistent push.
With the emphasis firmly on playing ability, I got down to watching Long play for a second time this year against California and the passing attack led by Kyle Boller in a partial broadcast (about 10 minutes of game-time missing). Once again, he played pretty much solely LDT, aligning on the right side on just a handful of downs the entire game and he was clearly matched up with the less talented of the Cal guards. Long had an active day on paper coming up with a sack and a few tackles at or around the line of scrimmage, but once again, against a QB putting the ball in the air nearly 50 times, he failed to provide a consistent pass rush, getting just two other QB hits (though one led directly to an INT that virtually iced the game). The sack incidentally came on a stunt rather than a great individual effort by him and the OC failed to pick him up in time as his line-mate at RDT (Jeremey Williams) opened a lane giving Long a free run to the QB as he looped around, displaying a nice short burst to arrive ‘in a hurry'.
Again, I saw a lot of bull rushing and arm extension on his pass rushing charges but not a lot in the way of moves or lateral movement off of contact and he wasn't double-teamed any more than the other DT was, most of the time getting one-on-one opportunities but failing to get close to the Boller who had pretty much all day to throw from the pocket most of the game. Against the run, he seemed to do a better job of staying low and holding his ground as well as coming off of blocks at the point of attack to get into a few plays but there were also more than a few occasions when the OLG short-pulled and, with Long playing too high, simply hit him in the chest knocking him to the ground like a sack of potatoes. While not dominant, he undoubtedly can rush the passer – its amazing that almost every time he gets free he hits or sacks the QB and that he seems to do it at opportune times in games – but I don't think he's either consistent enough in that respect or good enough against the run to fit what I'm looking for in a DT and I see him being available in the mid-late 2nd round.
Nick Eason (Clemson) is a player the Giants were reported to have liked at the Senior Bowl but remains the only top DT prospect I haven't seen at this late stage in preparation for the draft. However, a draftnik pal gave me a favourable report on him and I've requested a few tapes of him in action for the Tigers as I'd like to take a look for myself. Certainly, while there are a number of quality DT's available this year, not all of them offer the pass rush skills needed to transform the Giants oft-lackadaisical interior pass rush and, when healthy, statistics show he has offered that ability throughout his career. Strangely, he has managed to hire & fire 3 agents between January and now so there may be some questions about his maturity level that can only be answered by teams who have interviewed him.
Antonio Garay (Boston College) has been largely forgotten about having still been on the road to recovery from his broken ankle during the times others were ‘making their move' up the charts at the All-Star games and Combine. I had read on a few occasions during the college season that Giants scouts had been in attendance at BC games and at the recent Pro Day, they were there once again. With BC's only other top draft prospect, OC/OG Dan Koppen (a personal fave of mine), doing little more than the line drills having worked out in full at the Combine, it's likely the Giants came to see what sort of shape Garay was in as they may view as a DT option in our defensive scheme (though I still think he projects as a 3-4 DE in many others). Measuring in at just under 6'4", 295 pounds, he averaged just under 5 seconds in his 40 yard dash – impressive for someone his size but less than he'd clocked for pro scouts at testing last year so he may have a little way still to go in his recovery. His change of direction for a big man was also impressive. He's a big powerful guy at the point of attack with developing skills as a pass rusher. Though I don't think he'll be drafted in the first two rounds, he may be an option for the Giants in the 3rd round if they haven't yet filled the hole at DT or are looking to add to the depth at the position to create a strong interior rotation.