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March 17, 2010 @ 6:30 am
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Scout Speak: 5 Prospects On The Rise

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Which pro prospects have helped improve their stock in the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft due to strong offseason performances? In this edition of Scout Speak, a professional scout with nearly a decade of experience at the NFL level identifies the top five players on the rise in April's draft.
This feature on PewterReport.com is known as "Scout Speak." PewterReport.com has partnered with an NFL scout under the condition they remain anonymous. Although we can't disclose who this person is or currently works for, this NFL Scout has nearly a decade worth of scouting experience at the NFL level.

Top 5 Pro Prospects On The Rise

RB C.J. Spiller (5-11, 196) - Clemson
There's no question that Spiller is on the rise. Some people clocked him running in the 4.2s while others timed him running in the 4.3s at the NFL Combine. All he did is confirm what we already knew about him - he's a super fast and talented running back. In my opinion, he should be a top 10 pick, but what works against him are the careers of guys like Reggie Bush, where size comes into question. Is he a franchise back and will his durability allow him to be that franchise back? Basically - can he carry the load for your team in the ground game?

The NFL seems to be going to multi-back attacks anyway, so when you think of a good complementary back you think of a guy that can catch the ball out of the backfield, and one that has some elusiveness, wiggle and speed to make things happen. To me, he's not a third-down back - he's a premier back that a team would need to complement with more of a pounder and more physical-type back. Sometimes teams or executives are stuck in their beliefs that you need a physical, every-down back that give you 30 carries per game and complement him with a C.J. Spiller-type instead of complementing C.J. Spiller and using this guy that has rare ability, like a Chris Johnson, as your main, playmaking weapon. It even took the Titans awhile to make the transition from LenDale White to Chris Johnson. Sometimes teams are stuck in their ways and fail to take a hard look at the ability and production a player has despite their size. Spiller is a good example of that.

WR Golden Tate (5-10, 195) - Notre Dame
Running as fast as he did (4.36) solidified the positive thoughts in the minds of a lot of NFL guys. There were a lot of questions about how fast he was heading into the combine. Tate kind of has a running back body and build, and he's a little awkward to me as a player. He makes a lot of plays after the catch and he's a talented kid, but Tate isn't your protypical long, lean, smooth wide receiver. I didn't see him being, nor did I hear him described as, as an explosively fast guy like a Steve Smith from Carolina, who is a guy some people try to compare him to. There were questions regarding his speed, but Tate going out there and running as fast as he did at the combine and performing as well as he did in the on-field drills, he's definitely rising. At this point I'd be really surprised if Tate got out of the first round based on his career at Notre Dame and his offseason workouts.

LB Sean Weatherspoon (6-1, 239) - Missouri
The showing Weatherspoon had a the Senior Bowl only helped him, and his combine workout was impressive as well. There were questions heading into the offseason regarding his speed and athleticism. He's answered those with a 4.57 time in the 40-yard dash and a strong offseason showing. He's locked himself in as one of the top linebackers on draft boards. Weatherspoon probably has a pretty good shot of being drafted high in the first round. No one questioned his speed or motor, but he has proven that he has instincts and athleticism as well.

Weatherspoon's size and athletic ability make it to where you could really play him wherever you have a need at the linebacker position. His size, instincts and physical play would allow him to play inside. His speed and movement at the Senior Bowl and combine show the he could play Will (weakside) linebacker as well.

S Taylor Mays (6-3, 230) - Southern California
Mays helped himself tremendously at the combine. There were questions about his tackling and physical abilities before the combine, and those questions still exist. There are questions regarding whether he's a strong or free safety. He looks the part, but he's not the physically dominating presence or run filler you would think he would be. A lot of people had Mays dropping on their draft boards, but then he goes and runs one of the faster times in combine history (4.30) at 230 pounds and he's right back in the mix. Nothing has changed from a film evaluation standpoint, but you combine his size and speed just speak volumes about his upside and potential, so there are going to be teams that are willing to bet on this kid early in the draft.

DE Jason Pierre-Paul (6-5, 270) - South Florida
Pierre-Paul and Mays were two of the most impressive performers at the NFL Combine. There's a huge risk-reward with Pierre-Paul, but he was tremendous at the combine. You got a chance to see in person what a freak athlete this kid is. He ran fast (4.64) and worked out as a defensive end and a linebacker, and he looked natural in both sets of drills. When you think about the fact that Pierre-Paul arrived at South Florida about two weeks before the start of the season as a JUCO transfer, this kid has tremendous upside. Most folks want to feel safe about their first-round picks, especially when it's a high first-round pick. Pierre-Paul might not be the safest pick, but at the same time if you take this guy you're taking a guy with tremendous upside.

In 2009, Pierre-Paul had 6.5 sacks, and he did disappear at times in games, but it's kind of easy to disappear when you're being double- and triple teamed. There were times in games where Pierre-Paul was completely covered up. If there's any question about this kid's ability or whether he's capable of taking over a game, I'd probably ask the opposing head coaches or offensive coordinators that game planned for him. Based on what I saw they viewed him as a legitimate threat and doubled him with tackles and tight ends, and chipped him with running backs. They were more preoccupied with him than even [USF defensive end] George Selvie, who coming into the season was one of the more highly touted guys and a guy who was thought to be the sack master. Even when he got double- and triple teamed, there were still times when Pierre-Paul got pressure. He's raw, but there's tremendous upside there. There's nothing more Pierre-Paul could have done to make a serious push for the top 10 in the draft than what he did at the combine.


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