Friday, March 7, 2008

NFL Pro Day in Athens

Yesterday Ohio held its Pro Day, where NFL scouts come to view a school's juniors and seniors who will be entering the draft.

Ohio's main prospect, RB Kalvin McRae, was feeling under the weather and didn't participate in all drills. The week prior, at the Combine in Indianapolis, McRae struggled to gain much traction, running a 4.69 in the 40-yard dash. Despite that, McRae said he enjoyed every minute of it and even joked around about running the 40 between two of the top backs in this year's draft class, Darren McFadden and Rashard Mendenhall. He described himself as a team player who would not get an organization into trouble. He also called himself a complete back but knows he stilll has things to work on and is willing to put in the time to get better.

7 scouts in different colored NFL garb were present at Peden Stadium. I spoke to some of the scouts and they had interesting insight on the scouting process. A Detroit Lions scout liked Kalvin's run strength and said a RB with speed is nothing without vision. As the 40 not being the sole measure of a player's worth, he alluded to Jerry Rice, one of the greatest receivers of all-time, who only ran a 4.7. Another scout I spoke to, from the Cleveland Browns, also emphasized the importance of play during the season.

"We don't want to get into a situation where you change the grade. Everything that counts happens between the lines," he said.

Although the scouts do use the Combine and Pro Day Workouts to verify what they see on tape, it is not the most prominent factor, which is probably a good thing for McRae, who ran for 1434 yards and 19 TDs in his senior season.

Teams with representatives at the event were the Bills, Broncos, Browns, 49ers, Jets, Lions and Texans.

I predict that Kalvin will get drafted but his 40 time will cause him to fall to the 7th round. Since Kalvin will be drafted most likely as a RB to provide depth, he would fit in well with most of the teams that were represented. The starting RBs for the Bills, Broncos, 49ers, and Texans all missed time last season, allowing backups to start in games. Just look at the New York Giants last season to see that you don't have to be drafted in the early rounds to be successful. Their starter Brandon Jacobs got hurt and two former 7th round draft picks Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw were solid starters. If McRae is drafted to a team with a good offensive line and gets a couple of breaks, he could become the next late round RB to reap success on Sundays.

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