Josh Norris

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Draft 2012: Pro Day Roundup

Friday, March 23, 2012



Baylor WR Kendall Wright -- The difference between Wright's 4.43 Pro Day forty time and Sanu's is that Wright constantly plays at that speed. After struggling with his starts on the electronic system at the Combine, Wright shaved nearly two-tenths of a second off his time. The crispness in Wright's route running with little wasted movement allows him to consistently separate from trailing defensive backs. Wright is clearly one of the best route runners in this class and his ability to start from any receiving position at the snap adds to his skill-set. Above all, the way Wright adjusts to throws at full speed makes him stand alone, as he displayed with a trademark one-handed grab along the sideline on Wednesday. No one tracks the ball better downfield. Wright beats press coverage with quick movements and fast hands while keeping defensive backs guessing in off-coverage. The quick-twitch wideout is a combination of Steve Smith and Santonio Holmes with a legitimate chance to be drafted in the top-15 picks.

Washington RB Chris Polk -- Showing up to the Senior Bowl with a soft frame has since improved Polk's work ethic. He is now 12 pounds lighter than in Mobile and is consistently lowering his forty time, from his "official" 4.57 at the Combine to a 4.45-4.51 at the Huskies' Pro Day. Too much was made about Polk not flashing at the Senior Bowl in limited contact scenarios. That is not his game. Polk is a patient runner with incredible vision and anticipation to weave in space while breaking tackles on first contact. He is not going to wow evaluators with straight-line, home-run ability like Lamar Miller or David Wilson but Polk is a dependable runner with soft hands. His big plays are not flashy but the vision and burst he possesses will allow those long gains to translate into an NFL setting.

Nebraska DE/DT Jared Crick -- A torn pectoral ended Crick's senior season early, but after completing 26 bench press reps, the injury looks to be fully healed. At 6'4/279 pounds, Crick has some positional versatility at either left end in a 4-3 that moves inside on pass rushing situations or a 3-4 end. He is not the quickest penetrator off the snap, but Crick offers active hands and one of the best motors in the draft. He does not shed with proper timing at the tackle point and lacks the short-area quickness and explosion to consistently make tackles in the backfield. Despite these issues, Crick will grow in the system he is drafted into, with the ability to add or lose weight to fit his role. Before his final season, Crick was considered one of the top senior talents in the country and could be a tremendous value in the second round.

Upward Momentum

Miami (OH) G Brandon Brooks -- This year's biggest Combine snub, Brooks measured in at 6'5/346 and posted outstanding workout numbers: 36 bench reps, 4.98 forty with a 1.71 ten-yard split, 32" vertical, 8'9" broad jump, and 4.52 short shuttle, the latter of which would have led all offensive line Combine participants. A standout during East-West Shrine week, Brooks carries his weight very well while using defensive linemen's momentum against them or creating space with brute strength. Like anyone his size, Brooks needs to fire off the ball lower, but do not be surprised when he is the first non-Combine invite selected, likely in the draft's second day.

Tennessee DE/DT Malik Jackson -- I prefer Jackson at left defensive end in a 4-3 where he can burst off the edge or use persistence and power to create penetration against right tackles. After transferring from USC at 250 pounds, Jackson has efficiently bulked up to 290 -- six more pounds than he weighed in at the Combine. Jackson said himself that he is working toward appealing to 4-3 teams at defensive tackle (where he played his senior season) and has the length (6'5", 33.5" arms) to add even more mass. This kind of positional flexibility would have once drawn a "tweener" label. Instead, it is now considered positive versatility since Jackson consistently wins at any spot along the line. Admittedly, I value Jackson much more than others while giving him a mid second-round grade, but we have seen similar players like Chris Canty, Kendall Langford, and Jason Jones cash in recently. At worst, Jackson should be a fourth-round selection that will grow (or shrink) into his assigned role.

Utah State RB Michael Smith -- Teammate Robert Turbin drew most of the spotlight at Utah State, but Smith offers very intriguing skills as a third-day pick and production to prove it. At 5'8/207, Smith's results were highly impressive: 4.35 forty, 10'6" broad jump, 40.5" vertical, 23 bench press reps. Smith's running style is easy to enjoy, unafraid of contact between the tackles while sticking to his lane or flashing quick lateral movements after one step. His slight hops in traffic prevent him from losing speed while evading contact. His shorter stature forces Smith to go down on first contact often and limits his three-down ability as a pass protector, where he is consistently thrown to the side despite starting in a sound position. Smith will never be a workhorse, but the way he stays between the hashes while delivering long runs is far more preferable than LaMichael James' boundary running style, and for much a cheaper price.

Louisville TE Josh Chichester -- Standing at 6'8/245, the former wide receiver ran a 4.57 forty and leaped 38" on his vertical. Chichester lacks burst out of a three-point stance when blocking or releasing in-line, but gets down the field with long strides. Obviously he stands out as a red-zone target with a wide catch radius while using his body for positioning. Otherwise, Chichester lacks some coordination and will be unable to look fluid in routes that require more than a single break downfield. If he uses his reach when blocking and adds strength to his game, Chichester could be worth a very late-round developmental pick as a slot tight end.

Upcoming Workouts Worth Watching

March 28th - South Carolina (DE/OLB Melvin Ingram, WR Alshon Jeffery)

March 29th - Alabama (RB Trent Richardson, DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, S Mark Barron), Texas A&M (QB Ryan Tannehill)

March 30th - Arizona St. (QB Brock Osweiler, LB Vontaze Burfict) April 2nd- Tennessee-Chattanooga (QB B.J. Coleman)



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Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris


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