April 25, 2008

BC's pro day will determine fate of few

Boston College held its NFL Pro Day back in March with some surefire picks like Matt Ryan and Gosder Cherilus trying to improve their stock while others like Jo-Lonn Dunbar, DeJuan Tribble and Jamie Silva trying to make it into the seven round event. Here's a breakdown of their chances heading into tomorrow.

Matt Ryan - In a move that surprised nobody, Matt Ryan didn't do the majority of the measured workouts (40-yard dash, shuttle run, bench press, ect.) on Pro Day. Instead, Ryan showed off his excellent arm tossing passes to Kevin Challenger, and former BC wideout Tony Gonzalez in passing drills. The performance didn't move the needle one way or another on his draft stock.

Perhaps Coach Jags summed it up best at the ACC's annual coaches media conference when he was asked to give a reason why the Falcons should take Matt Ryan with the third pick. Jags said, "The intangibles. The guy just wins. The mark of a quarterback is; does he win? He's proven that over and over and over again here at BC."

The real question is; how high will the former BC quarterback go in the draft? My pick is for Ryan to go to Atlanta if Glenn Dorsey's already been taken, and if not Atlanta, I don't think there's any way he gets by Kansas City at number five. Of course, I did watch the HBO show Hard Knocks last summer, which was a behind the scenes look at how the Chiefs operate. Let's just say that after watching that show I wouldn't want Herm Edwards running a used car lot, nevermind an NFL franchise. With that in mind, look for Ryan to be taken by Baltimore with the number eight pick if the Chiefs skip him.

Gosder Cherilus - Pro Day was a success for the big 317-pound tackle, as he shaved .21 seconds off his 40 time (from the NFL Combine), down to 5.0 flat. Another impressive feat for Cherilus was his initial speed in the 40, clocking a 1.69 in the first 10 yards of the run. In comparison that was almost the exact same time it took Nick Larkin and Jamie Silva to run 10 yards. Heck, Cherilus even beat former cornerback Taji Morris by .02 seconds.

Cherilus opted to skip the jumping and lifting portions of the workout. After all, there wasn't a whole lot more to prove after benching 225 pounds 24 times at the NFL Combine.

Cherilus shouldn't have to sweat it out for too long this weekend. It's a safe bet that the tackle goes at the end of the first round, and if he slips to the second round, I don't see how the Falcons could pass on him with the 34th and 37th pick.

Mid Rounders (4th/5th)

Andre Callender - Perhaps no other BC player helped himself more at BC's Pro Day than Andre Callender. The former BC running back ran a 4.4 flat on the 40, which was down a smidgen from previously recorded times. Another area Callender excelled in was the broad jump, as he registered a 10' 3", which was the highest mark of any BC player from the '08 team.

As always, the only concern with Callender is his strength. He finished with 16 reps on the 225-pound bench which was the lowest of any BC player who worked out but is still pretty good. In addition, Callender was never known as a back who breaks tackles very often, so most scouts see him as average at best in that department.

However, none of that should scare off NFL teams from Callender. Fortunately for the running back, he has above average hands for the position. Just look at his production catching passes out of the backfield last season. Callender led the team in receptions, and had three games where he had 10 catches or more. For that reason, Callender would be a good third down back in the NFL, and I expect someone to snatch him up earlier than expected. He's also very improved in blocking.

Late Rounders-Free Agents

Jo-Lonn Dunbar - Count Dunbar as a player who was probably happy to get all of the workouts over with. Every year there's a player who gets hurt by his workout performance, and for '08 it looks like Dunbar might be one of those guys.

Nobody ever thought of the linebacker as "speedy", but some eyebrows were definitely raised at the NFL Combine when Dunbar ran a 4.85. In an attempt to improve his below average time, Dunbar ran the 40 at Pro Day and clocked in at 4.82.

The best result Dunbar had was probably his vertical jump, where he registered 33 inches, which beat guys like Jamie Silva (32 inches) and Kevin Challenger (32 inches).

Call me crazy, but at some point what your eyes tell you from watching a live action game at full speed has to outweigh workout results in a controlled environment. After watching Dunbar's quick instincts help him to make big plays for the last few years, I'll take him over a workout warrior who had an average college career any day. Look for Dunbar to overcome his workout results and get taken somewhere around the sixth or seventh round.

DeJuan Tribble - Going into the '07 season, NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper had projected Tribble as one of the top cornerback prospects in college football. However, after another season in which Tribble missed games due to injury it seems his stock has fallen. Another factor scaring off teams is Tribble's two off the field altercations he'd had in his career. Of course he was let off the latest charge, but it's still a red flag for NFL teams.

Tribble wasn't fantastic at BC Pro Day, clocking in at a 4.66 40-yard dash, slow for an NFL corner. The cornerback faired a little better in the vertical jump, where he measured 34 inches.

Anyone who watched Tribble over the last few seasons knows that he held his own with just about every wide receiver in the country. He's not a shutdown corner by any means, but he'd make a good second or third option on a roster. My prediction is that Tribble will go either in the seventh round or be a free agent.

Jamie Silva - The former BC safety will be in a competition with Dunbar and Tribble to see who will be the third player from the Heights selected in the draft.

In his workout, Silva clocked in at a 4.8 for the 40-yard dash, which was the identical time he ran at the NFL Combine the month before. Hey, at least the guy is consistent right, but that is not a good NFL time for a safety at all? The East Providence native finished in the middle of the pack in most of the drills at Pro Day, jumping 32 inches in the vertical jump and nine feet in the broad jump, and clocking in at 4.5 on the 20-yard shuttle.

Like Dunbar, Silva is not what you'd call a workout warrior. The "elite" prospects at his position usually clock in anywhere from 4.35-4.55 in the 40, so Silva is grouped in the second or third tier of players at safety. In the NFL, Silva figures to be a great special teams player that can step in and play safety when necessary, particularly in running situations. But he'd also be a special teams standout. Like Dunbar, I see Silva going in the seventh round or as a free agent.

Sure-fire Free Agents

Ryan Poles - Poles is not projected to be drafted as his senior season ending injury killed all chances of that. The lineman has good size at 6' 3", 302 pounds, and had a productive career at BC.

The only drill that Poles participated in at Pro Day was the 225 pound bench press, which he put up 20 times.

Nick Larkin - Larkin is a typical overacheiver who has fought through flat feet, a lack or size and great quickness and other limitations to become a very good college player. However, he'll have to earn his way onto an NFL roster the hard way.

At Pro Day, Larkin clocked in with a 5.05-second 40-yard dash time. Larkin benched 20 reps and his vertical jump of 27 inches wasn't bad.

In any event, I don't see why Larkin wouldn't be a nice reserve player for a team to have.

Kevin Challenger - All eyes were on Challenger at Pro Day, not so much because of his receiving skills, but because of the guy throwing passes to him. In any event, it was a good opportunity for the receiver to get the attention of some scouts. All in all, Challenger did a good job of catching the ball in a somewhat pressure packed situation with everyone watching.

In his workouts, Challenger ran an average 40 time of 4.63, but made up for that with a nice shuttle run time of 4.25, which was the third fastest time on the day.

Obviously, Challenger has aspirations of playing in the NFL, but wouldn't the CFL be a logical place for him to end up? The receiver is from Montreal, and fits in with the smaller type of receiver that you find in the CFL.

L.V. Whitworth - Add Whitworth to the list of guys who didn't help themselves with their 40 time, as the running back clocked in at 4.69. Curiously enough, Whitworth excelled in shuttle runs, as the 20-yard shuttle he had the fastest time out of any other player at 4.07. In addition, Whitworth had the second highest vertical jump at 35 inches.

Unfortunately for Whitworth, most NFL teams look for a running back to be either fast or bruising. Whitworth kind of falls in between those two. Also, his hands are average, so he doesn't have an edge there. At the very least Whitworth will get a tryout with an NFL team, but it would be surprising if he was selected in the draft.

Johnny Ayers - It's pretty tough for a punter to get drafted if he's not considered one of the top three prospects, so look for Ayers to go undrafted, and get a tryout from an NFL team.

The workout times are not as important for punters as they are for other position players, but I couldn't help but notice Ayers ran a 4.34 shuttle run which tied Callender's time. Not too shabby I'd say.

Tom Anevski - If nothing else Anevski can brag about taking home the strongest man award. Anevski put up 225 pounds an impressive 26 times, which was the most out of any BC player on the day.

And One Old Friend

William Green - What exactly ever happened to William Green? After a stellar career at BC, Green entered the NFL Draft in 2002, and was selected 16th overall by the Cleveland Browns. After a strong rookie year, in which he gained 887 yards and scored six TDs, Green's NFL career went downhill. After multiple off the field incidents ranging from drunk driving, to marijuana possession, to getting stabbed by his girlfriend, Green was released by the Browns after training camp in 2006.

Flash forward two years later, and Green has seemingly turned his life around. The running back has found religion, and it's brought a new view of life to him.

Green showed up to BC Pro Day in seemingly excellent shape, weighing in at 213 pounds. In terms of strength, it seems the former BC great has it back, as he benched 225 pounds 25 times. To put that in perspective, he out-benched the likes of Ryan Poles (20 reps), Nick Larkin (20 reps), L.V. Whitworth (18 reps), and Ty Hall (18 reps).

Another impressive performance by Green came in his vertical and broad jumps. Green's vertical jump was an astonishing 42 inches, which blew away the second highest mark set by Tyronne Pruitt of 35.5 inches. In the broad jump, Green's mark was 11 feet, which also set the highest mark on the day and is simply freakish.

Now the bad news, which was Green's 40-yard dash mark of 4.83. Yikes! After such eye-popping performances in all of the other drills, many were surprised that Green ran such a slow 40-time. According to several people who've watched many more 40-yard dashes than I, Green has too much of an upright style when running the 40, and thus it really slows him down. It actually looked like someone taught him how not to run the 40 as he was as slow out of the blocks as he was during his last 10 yards.

Despite the slow 40-time, look for Green to get a chance to compete for a backup job in some training camp of an NFL team.

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