Week of pro days features big talent

The NFL scouting process continues, and this week is a big one for a lot of first-round prospects that are holding their pro days, including a few of the top quarterbacks and offensive and defensive linemen.

While the annual NFL Scouting Combine gets the most pre-draft attention from the media, nothing affects a player's draft stock more than his pro day – when scouts come to college campuses to watch their draft-eligible talent work out in familiar surroundings with the situation controlled for their own comfort zone.

Players can have disappointing showings at the Combine and blur those memories/recollections by having a strong pro day. The pro day season got underway with a whimper last week, as Baylor, Florida Atlantic, Troy and Tulane showcased only a couple of players with first-round potential – Baylor guard Danny Watkins and defensive tackle Phil Taylor.

However, that will all change this week, as the recruiting season hits high gear in its final countdown, as almost all of the first-round talent struts their stuff for NFL brass.

Tuesday will begin the showcase of stars as Arkansas, Auburn and Oklahoma conduct their pro days, which will include Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett, Auburn QB Cam Newton and DT Nick Fairley, and Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray and DE Jeremy Beal.

Wednesday sees eight teams conducting pro day, including some heavy hitters like Cal, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. The players involved in those workouts will include Cal DE Cameron Jordan, Colorado CB Jimmy Smith and OT Nate Solder, A&M LB Von Miller, and Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt, OT Gabe Carimi and TE Lance Kendricks.

Fifteen schools conduct their pro day on Thursday, including Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Nebraska, Oregon and Texas Tech. The talent taking the pro-day field that day will include Alabama WR Julio Jones, RB Mark Ingram and DT Marcell Dareus, Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers and DT Jarvis Jenkins, Miami WR Leonard Hankerson, CB Brandon Harris and OT Orlando Franklin, and Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara.

Friday will include seven more teams, including Ohio State, Oregon State, Purdue, Southern Miss, Tennessee and TCU. Players to watch that day will include Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward and LB Ross Homan, Oregon State DT Stephen Paea and Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan.

While most of the NFL focus will be on the negotiations between the league and the players association this week, the business of evaluating the next generation of NFL talent will go on in earnest and many of the decisions made in prime time on April 28 will be made with information based on what scouts and NFL talent evaluators see this week.


  • The labor talks that received a seven-day extension Friday were actually more like a five-day reprieve. Both sides took the weekend to regroup and recharge their batteries for what promises to be five days of intense negotiation that many hope won't hit a stumbling block too big for one side to get up from the table. The seriousness of the negotiations will likely be known today, depending on who is sitting at the two sides during negotiations. If some key behind-the-scenes participants not currently in the room make their way to New York, hope for a deal will go up dramatically by this time tomorrow.

  • A note from the Big Shooter Charley Walters is getting a lot of play nationally. Walters speculated that earlier in the offseason, the Vikings were interested in making a push for Denver QB Kyle Orton but have since backed off. Considering that trading players isn't part of the early offseason equation, whether the interest has cooled is a moot point until a new CBA is reached.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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