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March 24, 2010 @ 12:00 am
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Scout Speak: 5 Prospects On The Decline

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Which pro prospects might have hurt their stock in the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft due to offseason performance? 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 decline 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 Decline

ILB Rolando McClain (6-43 254) - Alabama
McClain is definitely a player whose stock is falling in the upcoming NFL Draft. He probably went from a mid first-round pick to a late first-round pick to maybe even a second-round selection due to the recent developments regarding his Crohn's disease, which was disclosed after he couldn't finish his pro day workout. The thing about Rolando McClain is he's going to look much better on film than he does in a workout, which we already knew. He's not a super fast guy, but he's super instinctive. He's a bigger, longer [Houston LB] DeMeco Ryans. He wasn't a great athlete, but Ryans made every play at Alabama. Working out was probably only going to hurt his stock a little, not help it. The same applies here with McClain because the things he did on film didn't necessarily translate in the 40-yard dash, the 3-cone drill or drills like that.

But the information regarding McClain's Crohn's disease is huge. People seem to forget how long [Jaguars quarterback] David Garrard's battle was through a similar situation. The disease threatened Garrard's career and personal health. There were times when the Jaguars almost gave up on him while he was sick, losing weight and things like that. McClain says he's had this condition since his freshman year in high school and he's taken medicine to manage it. So he gets to his pro day workout, which is the biggest stage he's been on outside of a game, and he gets sick and can't finish the workout. That was unfortunate, but teams will ask, "What if that was Sunday, and how many Sundays will it be?" Some teams may be afraid to touch McClain early due to his sub-par offseason performance and mainly the Crohn's disease, which could cause him to fall into the late part of the first round or even the top part of the second round.


RB Dexter McCluster  (5-9, 172)- Ole Miss
There might not be a player that hurt himself more at the combine than McCluster, which is really unfortunate because he's such a good kid and he's so talented. He's one of my favorite players in this draft. I know he ran a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash, but I don't care what the stopwatch said in Indy; this kid plays at 4.3. That's the speed he plays with, and it shows on tape. However, when you're that small and you're already working with physical limitations it's a necessity that you go out at the combine and run very fast. McCluster failed to do that. I talked to him, and I know a lot of other NFL scouts, coaches and execs that talked to Dexter before the combine, and we all believed he would be one of the faster players in the 40-yard dash. He believed that, too. People in the stadium would have been surprised if he ran a 4.48, so when he ran a 4.55 NFL guys like myself were super shocked. I mean, everybody in the seats looked at each other in disbelief and shock.

I don't know what went wrong there, but anybody who has watched film on this kid or evaluated this kid know that McCluster plays way faster than he ran at the combine. But his lack of height, weight and speed at the combine probably will cause him to fall in the draft because it will be tough for teams to justify taking a kid of that stature high. In order to do that you would need the support of a fast 40, but you don't have that in this case. Some had him as high as the second round, but now I'd say McCluster is more of a third- or fourth-round pick at this point.

LB Brandon Spikes (6-3, 253) - Florida
When you run a 5.0 time in the 40-yard dash and you're not a lineman, it almost seems completely out of place in today's NFL. Spikes still is one heck of a player. He's talented, tough and instinctive. He makes up for his lack of speed with his quickness and instincts, but he was just terrible running at his pro day. It was painful to watch him run. Spikes worked out at the combine, but he didn't run, so he puts all his eggs in this one basket and it didn't work out for him at all.

Florida has another pro day workout, but even if Spikes elects to run at that and he runs a little bit better it's not going to help him much because the damage is already done. He's a guy that people already figured he couldn't run well and wasn't fleet of foot. Spikes is very similar to Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain in that we knew neither one of them were very fast based on their tape, but McClain ran a 4.75 and Spikes ran a 5.0 flat.

Spikes is a classic Mike linebacker because of his limitations and issues with range. You knew he wasn't going to be a blazing fast linebacker. Him running a slow 40-yard dash time just confirmed our worst fears about the kid, which is that he can't run. You don't want to get caught up too much in the 40-yard dash because this kid made a lot of plays at Florida and he can help compensate for what he lacks in speed and range with instincts. Best-case scenario Spikes would have been a mid-to-late first-round pick. At this point, he's probably a second-rounder or maybe a third-round pick unless a team has a big-time need at middle linebacker, or a 3-4 team wants to draft him as an inside linebacker where he's not playing in space as much.

WR Dez Bryant (6-2, 210) - Oklahoma State
His stock has taken a hit, but Bryant still will be a very high pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. There isn't another receiver as talented as this kid in this draft. However, when you start dealing with some of these off the field issues it raises a brow and causes some teams to worry. From what I know of the kid, he may be one of those easily influenced kids because of his background and because he's a little naive and perhaps not the brightest individual. That, combined with the off the field issues, is a legitimate concern. This is not a Pacman Jones situation. Bryant isn't criminal; he's more naive and more easily influenced due to his background. He's socially immature, so there are a lot of things a team would have to work with outside of football. He's not the type of kid you select and instantly make the face of your organization. Initially, before you put him in front of a camera or microphone you're going to think twice about him. He's going to need some work and a lot of guidance.

Having said all that, I still think there's a good chance Bryant is the top receiver taken in the draft this year. He's an unbelievable talent. When you combine his size, speed and ability, there isn't a player that's more physically talented than Bryant. There might be some reservations to take him, but with Oakland and a few other teams picking high that have a history of overlooking those things, there's a good chance Bryant will still be a high first-round pick.

CB Perrish Cox (5-11, 195) - Oklahoma State
Cox didn't run well at the combine, and that could drop his stock in the draft. He didn't work out well at the combine, including his 40 time (4.53), so his time was a little off compared to what I saw on tape. He also dropped a few balls in the combine workouts, which were a little surprising. It's unfortunate sometimes that the four- and five-year careers of some of these kids come down to how fast they can run on these one or two days - your combine and your pro workout, and that you're expected to catch every ball thrown to you. Prior to the offseason workouts, Cox could have made a push for the first round, especially when you consider how much of a drop off there is in talent after Joe Haden and Kyle Wilson. Cox could have separated himself there and solidified himself as a first-round pick. Instead, teams are looking at Cox as a second- or third-round draft pick.

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