Pewter Report offers up its analysis of the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine workouts of the tight ends and offensive linemen on Saturday, as well as some other news and notes. The following combine numbers were provided by the NFL Network.
OFFENSIVE LINE COMBINE ANALYSIS Jason Smith, Baylor – With some uneven performances by other offensive linemen, Smith’s strong performance on Saturday moved him up to maybe the top tackle in the draft. Smith had a solid 40-yard dash at 5.14 and had looked very good in the change of directions drills. On the bench press Smith stood out with 33 repetitions of 225 pounds. Many of the other top offensive tackles, Michael Oher and Eugene Monroe, registered totals in the low 20’s. After his combine performance Smith is not a real option for Tampa Bay. Smith could easily go in the top five of the draft.
Jason Watkins, Florida – The Gators 6-foot-6, 318-pound right tackle had a very solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl. Watkins’ performance at the combine was the inverse of his performance in Moblie. He had one of the lowest bench press totals among the offensive tackles with 18. That is not completely surprising as Watkins has long arms (33.25 inches) and players with long arms are at a disadvantage on the bench press. His 40-yard dash time of 5.22 is average, and Watkins displayed slow feet in the change of direction drills. On tape Watkins is a powerful, fundamental blocker that could be a mid-round option for Tampa Bay to find offensive line depth.
Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets’ versatile tackle can play both left and right tackle. Gardner measured in at 6-7, 304 with 34.5-inch arms, and ran the 40-yard dash at 5.22. A torn labrum in his right shoulder has hurt his draft status, so the examinations by the Bucs’ doctors will be just important as his workout. He has been a first-team all ACC selection the past two seasons, and is a solid run blocker.
Lydon Murtha, Nebraska – He ran the fastest 40-yard-dash at the combine for offensive tackles and guards at 4.89. That was the fourth fastest time for offensive linemen this decade. Murtha (6-7, 307) also showed good athletic ability in the change of direction drills and footwork. The combine standout also produced a solid 27 reps on the 225-pound bench press. Murtha is a late-round prospect and will be a player for the Bucs to consider as depth competition.
TIGHT ENDS COMBINE ANALYSIS Jared Cook (6-5, 246), South Carolina – He wasn’t the biggest name at the tight end position in Indianapolis, but Cook stole the show in tight end workouts. Cook helped himself tremendously by putting on a show from an athletic standpoint. He had the best 40-yard dash time (4.42), vertical jump (41 inches) and broad jump (10’3”) of any of the tight ends. In fact, Cook’s 40-yard dash time was the third-fastest posted by a tight end at the Combine this decade. In addition, he displayed solid upper-body strength by bench pressing 225 pounds 23 times. Unfortunately for Cook, he tweaked his hamstring on his last 40-yard dash run and did not participate in any other workouts. That was disappointing because he obviously is a great athlete, but his production was not great at South Carolina. Great athleticism doesn’t necessarily translate into success at the NFL level, as the San Francisco 49ers and TE Vernon Davis can attest to.
Brandon Pettigrew (6-5, 263), Oklahoma State – Petitgrew is projected to be the top tight end taken in the 2009 NFL Draft. Although he did not showcase great speed by running 40-yard dash times of 4.85 and 4.97, Pettigrew didn’t do anything to hurt his stock enough to allow another tight end to leapfrog him in the draft. Pettigrew had the opportunity to run the 40 again due to a slip on his 4.97 time, and he improved by running a 4.87. He also posted 22 reps of 225 pounds and a 33-inch vertical jump. Pettigrew likely will be a late first-round draft pick, but with Alex Smith and John Gilmore still under contract don’t expect the Bucs to draft him. Shawn Nelson (6-5, 240), Southern Miss – The second-best tight end in this draft likely is Nelson, who solidified that belief Saturday by posting a 33-inch vertical jump, 9’7” broad jump and impressive 4.53 time in the 40-yard dash. Nelson likely will be a second-round draft pick. Anthony Hill (6-5, 262), North Carolina State – Hill didn’t post spectacular numbers in any of the drills. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds. However, Hill has good size and displayed good pass-catching ability in the gauntlet drill.
James Casey (6-3, 246), Rice – Casey is a great athlete. He posted a 36-inch vertical jump and 4.71 time in the 40-yard dash on Saturday. In addition, Casey had 28 reps of 225 pounds. He is one of the top five tight ends in this draft class and some compare him to Chris Cooley, who has been one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Casey could be an intriguing player at the next level if he can add some more bulk to his frame.
Cornelius Ingram (6-4, 245), Florida – Ingram is one of the better tight ends in this draft class and likely will be a second- or third-round draft pick. He posted a 4.62 40-yard dash time and 33-inch vertical jump. The biggest knock on Ingram is he missed last season due to an ACL injury. But Ingram certainly didn’t hurt his draft stock on Saturday. Kory Sperry (6-5, 238), North Carolina – Sperry is one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the draft, and he put those skills on display in the gauntlet drill on Saturday. Sperry was one of the better performers there and had an impressive 4.69 40-yard dash time. He also posted a 33.5-inch vertical and 10’2” broad jump. He is a player to keep an eye on and one the Bucs could consider drafting in the sixth or seventh round due to his small frame.
Marques Branson (6-2, 247), Central Arkansas – Branson is considered an H-back because he lacks the ideal size to hold up as a blocker. However, he’s a good receiver and athlete. Brandon posted a 35-inch vertical jump and 4.63 time in the 40-yard dash time.
Bear Pascoe (6-5, 251), Fresno State – Pascoe is considered a good pass-catching tight end, but he will have trouble separating from defenders at the next level. He’s not the fastest player, evidenced by his 4.97 40-yard dash time. Chase Coffman (6-3, 246), Missouri – One player that could not participate in workouts due to injury was Coffman, and that was unfortunate due to his production at the collegiate level. Coffman is considered a fairly balanced tight end, but a broken foot has kept him out of the Senior Bowl and Combine workouts. That could cause him to drop into the third round, but most pundits believe Coffman’s potential will get him drafted in the second round, where the Bucs probably aren’t willing to take him.
WHAT IS HE THINKING? It’s a good thing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t in the market for a starting offensive lineman in the 2009 NFL Draft. And if they were, the Bucs, along with several other NFL teams, might cross Alabama tackle Andre Smith off their list, or at the very least move him down their draft board.
Smith is killing his stock at the NFL Combine. First, he arrived in Indianapolis out of shape, and announced it before working out for NFL scouts this week. On Saturday, Smith went AWOL, and when found there were conflicting reasons for why no one could find him, according to NFL Network. They later reported that Smith’s agent claimed he forgot to communicate to the NFL scouts and coaches that his client was going home from the Combine.
Smith, who was suspended by Alabama head coach Nick Saban for the team’s Sugar Bowl game due to improper deals with his agent, according to ESPN.com, was projected by some to be a top 10 draft pick, but the way he’s carried himself in Indy is not sitting well with NFL people and could cause him to drop into the later part of the first round or even out of it.
Even if Smith falls to the Buccaneers at 19, don’t expect Tampa Bay to invest its first-round pick in him as the team has several other needs, including quarterback, running back, wide receiver, defensive end, defensive tackle and cornerback.
CRABTREE INJURED Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree was considered by many pundits to be a top 10 NFL pick in April, but NFL.com is reporting that Crabtree has a slight stress fracture in his right foot, an injury that will require surgery and sideline him about 10 weeks.
Crabtree caught 231 passes for 3,000 yards and 41 touchdowns in two seasons with Texas Tech. Before his foot injury was discovered in Indianapolis, Crabtree was picked to go to the Seattle Seahawks with the fourth overall selection in the draft. Could his injury cause Crabtree to fall as far as the 19, which is where Tampa Bay is scheduled to pick?
Don’t count on it. Crabtree has impressive tape for NFL scouts and coaches to review. Plus, offseason injuries and recovery time didn’t deter teams from drafting offensive playmakers in previous drafts like running back Willis McGahee (Buffalo) and more recently wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (Miami).
Expect Crabtree to remain in the top 10 just as Ginn Jr. did two years ago.
BUCS NOT TALKING TRADE FOR QB ANDERSON A report in the Tampa Tribune a few days ago suggested there was a hot rumor in Indy that the Buccaneers were targeting Browns quarterback Derek Anderson for a third-round draft pick.
Sources have indicated to Pewter Report that Bucs general manager Mark Dominik has not had dialogue with Cleveland regarding a trade for Anderson.
In fact, Tampa Bay may not have much interest in Anderson at all. The Bucs are in the market for another quarterback, whether it is in free agency or the draft, but Anderson might not be the right fit for offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski’s system. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Anderson, 25, has playing experience, but has completed just 54.6 percent of his passes for 6,195 yards and 43 touchdowns and 35 interceptions.