March 14, 2012

Insider Report: Former Noles work out for NFL Scouts



There was no question who the main attractions were at Florida State's annual Pro Day inside Doak Campbell Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, as scouts from 27 different NFL teams watched former linebacker Nigel Bradham and offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders work.


A dozen or so other former Seminoles worked out in front of the scouts as well, but Sanders and Bradham were the main draw.


Since the Senior Bowl, Bradham's draft stock has been steadily rising. On Wednesday he posted the same results as he did during last month's NFL Scouting Combine with a 40-yard dash time of 4.65 seconds, a vertical leap of 37 inches, and 24 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press.


"From what I was just told I feel like I helped my stock a lot," he said after speaking with NFL Scouts in private on Wednesday. "Pretty much just showing what I can do. Just being able to get out of breaks and show my quickness and speed."


For Sanders he elected to work out again to show scouts his movement. He went through the strength and conditioning tests, as well as position drills, which were organized by a member of the Cincinnati Bengals organization.


"I feel like I did a good job just going out there just actually trying to move for a while," Sanders said. "I just wanted to go out and show the coaches I can move and move my hips and go out there and compete… What I really wanted to focus on out here was just being able to move like a good lineman so that's why I wanted to be able to do the offensive lineman drills."


While Sanders wanted to show he could move hips and had good footwork, it was the hands that Bradham wanted to show off. Since the seasoned ended the Wakulla native said other than diagnosing plays at the line of scrimmage quicker, his pass coverage has been the biggest concern NFL teams have had with him.


"I didn't drop any balls today, which is huge because I heard people kept saying I couldn't catch," Bradham said. "So I was just trying to work on my hands a lot. Played with tennis balls, jugs machine a little bit, just being able to show I can catch a little bit too."


Bradham said he has couple of private workouts scheduled with NFL teams between Pro Day and the NFL Draft, but declined to mention which teams.


Sanders, who weighed in at 307 pounds (13 pounds lighter than at the NFL combine), said he has an upcoming workout scheduled with the Dallas Cowboys and potentially the Arizona Cardinals. His numbers on Wednesday were almost identical to those at the Combine.


Since the Senior Bowl Sanders has seen his draft stock take a bit of hit, with most mock drafts taking him out of the first round. While he did admit he pays attention to mock drafts and repots about himself, he still won't be disappointed if his name isn't called during Round 1 of the draft.


"I'll be satisfied just to be drafted in general," he said. "Just like any other player going in the first round would be awesome, that's everybody's dream. Just getting drafted is one thing, it's a totally different story to make a team. I'll just be happy if one team falls in love with me, it's another thing making a team and just trying to compete and get on the field."


Datko performs as shoulder strength returns


Tackle Andrew Datko's path to the NFL Draft has principally been about one thing: proving he's returning to health. After participating in most of the NFL Scouting Combine's drills last month, Datko showed more progress in his surgically repaired shoulder at FSU's Pro Day.



"The first time at the Combine, it was important for me to show I'm still in shape and can still move around," Datko explained. "And also, [Pro Day] was important for me to go benching out here and also doing position drills because the combine is not really football drills, but out here it's more football related."



Pro Day marked the first time Datko could perform the bench press for pro scouts, as working out in Indianapolis would have been too close to his surgery date. And while Datko's results (20 reps at 225 lbs.) aren't what they will be as his shoulder continues to heal, he said the most important thing was to show scouts that his shoulder can handle the stress of the bench press and punching drills.



"That's the main thing I wanted to do because I'm not back at full strength yet," he said. "I've only been benching for about a little over a month or so. So just to show them 'look, my shoulder is good' and I can start doing it, but that I'm also getting stronger."



Although Wednesday was a step in the right direction, Datko knows the questions will likely linger right up to draft weekend in late April. That being said, he relayed that NFL doctors were pleasantly surprised with his shoulder's progress as they examined him closely at the Combine.



"They have six rooms, five or six teams, all their doctors and trainers there," said Datko. "It's almost like you're a specimen and they're analyzing you. So it was a pretty neat experience, and it went well over there."



Heading to the draft, Datko is represented by super-agent Drew Rosenhaus, a decision he said came after a week of meeting with different agents. The reason for selecting Rosenhaus? He's represented players in Datko's situation before.



"In January, I thought he was the best one to represent me because he also has represented a few other injured players that he got into the league," Datko said. "So I think he's the best person for me."



Powell adds "Aussie" to repertoire



In the past few months, former All-American punter Shawn Powell has been adding to an already impressive kicking repertoire as he heads towards his professional career. Powell's search for better results took him out west to San Diego, where he's studied the art of the "Aussie-style" punt from the man who brought it to the NFL.



Former Australian rules footballer and NFL All-Pro punter Darren Bennett has taken Powell under his wing, teaching him the techniques of the "drop punt" that made Bennett so proficient, he was named a member of the 1990's NFL All-Decade Team.



"It makes a world of difference," said Powell, who reported good results on Pro Day. "I really don't think I would have had any touchbacks this year if I did that Aussie kick in college. But I'm glad I'm doing it now, I feel very comfortable doing that kick."



If the new kick adds to Powell's ability to bomb traditional style punts and pin offenses back, it's a healthy assumption that the former Seminole will find a home in the NFL. Although he's considered to be amongst the best punter prospects in the upcoming draft, Powell knows being drafted isn't always a guarantee at his position.



"If I get called, it will be a great honor and I would love for my name to be called," Powell said. "But at the same time, if you look last year, Chas Henry was a finalist for the Ray Guy [Award] three years in a row and then his last year and he didn't get drafted. But Philadelphia knew that they wanted him to be their punter, so they let go of the punter they had and brought him in and he was the starter."



Powell added that he knows that in the pros, teams will want to take every look they can before making an investment in a player. That reality will not be a problem for him.



"I'll punt as many times as they want me to in front of them," Powell said. "It doesn't matter because I'm trying to make a living doing something I love."


Versatility could pay off for Harris


After turning heads at the NFL combine with his smooth movements, former FSU defensive back Mike Harris turned in another solid performance in front of NFL scouts on Wednesday.


Harris improved on his combine 40-yard time (4.68) by posting a 4.53 on a slick field.


"I'm definitely pleased with my performance," Harris said. "I think I was able to display good skills and things like that. Was fluid in my back pedals and coming out of my breaks and stuff so I think I did pretty well today."


Harris said while at the combine the thing teams like most about him was the fact that he had so much experience playing inside at nickel back as well as outside at cornerback.


"A lot of teams liked me versatility-wise," he said. "Things I could do differently, they were very pleased with me just looking forward to getting to know me more as a player bring me in and working me out as a player. The fact that you can play multiple positions definitely raises your stock a little bit."


After Pro Day Harris will return to Atlanta where he has been training since the season ended. He currently doesn't have any private workouts scheduled but is pleased to be finished with this part of the pre-draft process.


"I'm definitely pleased to be done with it and just continue to train and workout for a few teams," he said.


Noteworhy


  • Wednesday's workout wasn't just for players who were part of the 2011 FSU football team as former Noles Kendall Smith and Michael Ray-Garvin also participated, as well as transfer Nigel Carr (Alabama State) and Antwan Greenlee (North Alabama).


  • Bert Reed posted the fasted 40 time of the day with a time of 4.46 seconds.


  • Former FSU receiver Kex McCorvey, now the receivers coach for the Toronto Argonauts, was on hand for the workouts. As was former Seminoles fullback and current Oakland Raiders scout Zack Crockett.




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