These three prospects earn a split decision for now
By Russ Lande
As teams conduct their pre-Combine draft meetings, Virginia running back Cedric Peerman is causing a great deal of debate. When he was healthy and getting a lot of touches in 2007, Peerman was a productive back and looked like he had many of the tools to become a good NFL starter.
However, after suffering a Lisfranc foot injury in the fifth game of 2007, his career leveled off. He missed the rest of that season and didn't get the chance in 2008 to be the 20-touch-per-game back that he had been before the injury.
As a result, teams are trying to figure out whether Peerman can be a major contributor or whether he will always struggle to stay healthy if he is used a lot.
There are significant differences on where he fits on draft boards. In our view, he is a third-round pick who is suited as a third-down back but could develop into a starter by his second or third season if he shows the toughness to be a durable player.
Teams also are divided on BYU wide receiver Austin Collie. A number of scouts believe Collie, a tall, possession receiver with great hands and good overall receiving skills, lacks the explosiveness, burst and playing speed to consistently get separation from NFL defenders. They rate him as a fifth- or sixth-rounder.
Another group of scouts believe he has deceptive quickness and that once he gets to full speed he'll be able to get separation on deep routes. This group thinks Collie is a second- or third-round prospect.
Where will Collie land? It will have a lot to do with his 40-yard dash times at the Combine and his personal workout. It is amazing how much the rankings of receivers and cornerbacks change from the pre-Combine meetings to the final draft meetings.
Kings of the Brittons
Arizona left tackle Eben Britton, who decided to come out early, is another prospect who gets a split decision.
A handful of scouts view Britton as an athletic left tackle prospect with great size who has the ability to slide quickly to counter change-of-direction pass-rush moves and cut off edge rushers. They like his long arms, which allow him to lock up and control pass rushers, and his ability to tie up and turn linemen on run blocks. This group of scouts view him as a second-round pick who could have developed into a first-rounder had he stayed in college another year.
The other group of scouts questions Britton's athletic ability. They wonder whether he has enough quickness to slide out in time to cut off explosive speed rushers and get to the second level to block linebackers. This group views him as more of a fourth- or fifth-round talent.
Though the Combine will be big for Britton, his personal workout will be even more important as NFL coaches get their hands on him and put him through grueling skill drills.
Jonesing over Davie
We will be excited to see Arkansas tight end Andrew Davie at his personal workout.
Davie came out early for the 2009 Draft and was not invited to the Combine, according to the most recent information we have. He is 26 years old, having had played minor league baseball before entering Arkansas.
Watching Davie on film was difficult because he started seven games in 2007 and four in 2008. However, we were impressed by what we saw.
Davie is a big, well-built prospect at 6-5, 265 pounds. He definitely looks the part of an NFL tight end and has surprisingly fluid athleticism. Though he lacks the explosiveness and elite playing speed to stretch the field as a receiver, he runs routes smoothly and shows excellent hands. He also displays good strength and competitiveness as both a run and pass blocker.
On film, he impressed us as a good late-round pick who could be a good backup tight end. But he must be on top of his game during his personal workout if he hopes to be drafted.
We are interested to see how Boston College's Kevin Akins performs at the Combine because he is a versatile player with very good natural athleticism. He started games at outside linebacker, safety and cornerback during his career at Boston College, and though we believe Akins is best suited to playing linebacker in the NFL, his Combine performance will likely determine which position teams put next to his name on their draft board.
'Macho' must motor
Virginia Tech DB Victor "Macho" Harris must hit a home run at the Combine after a bad start to his spring at the Senior Bowl. Had he put together a strong week at Mobile, Harris could have moved up from the third round to the second.
However, he struggled all week and showed a lack of explosiveness and burst, which has many teams thinking he is a safety prospect, not a cornerback. To be considered a corner prospect by most teams, he must run a good 40 (ideally below 4.55) and do well in all the agility and position drills at the Combine.
It takes a genius to whine appealingly.