and other draft prospect info...
By KEN PALMER
March 27, 2005
-- DON'T believe the hype. Those present at Alex Smith's workout certainly didn't. Sure the former Utah quarterback looked good in working out in front of numerous scouts and personnel men on March 16. But his performance was nowhere near as good as the agents who leaked the workout 'information' would have you believe.
Last week, The Post visited with several men who were on hand to watch Smith's workout, which afterward was being compared to Troy Aikman's great performance of 1989. It wasn't even close.
For one, did you know that Smith's receivers at the workout were told not to run full speed? Of course, that makes the fact that only two of his 90 passes hit the ground much less impressive.
Another factor overlooked while grading Smith's "near-perfect" performance was the fact that he worked almost exclusively out of the shotgun.
"He sure looked clumsy taking the snap from under center," one scout revealed.
As for the standing ovation at the end of his workout? Those in attendance weren't seated, and always clap at the end of workouts, partially out of courtesy and partially because they're now free to grab a bite and a cold one. This wasn't exactly the Garden faithful when Willis Reed came limping out of the locker room more than three decades ago. "We were standing because we had no chairs to sit on," one personnel man said with a laugh.
This isn't to say that Smith won't make it on the pro level. Just that his personal workout was rigged to his strengths and shouldn't be given nearly as much credence as it has been. Tim Couch threw passes through a hanging tire 40 yards away and Kyle Boller lofted tosses 60 yards from his knees. Unfortunately for both disappointing QBs, neither of those skills gets you anywhere on Sunday afternoons.
Other workout tricks that have been used through the years include marking off only 38 or 39 yards for a 40-yard dash, thus clearly decreasing the time, and using barbells that are lighter than marked, a tactic used to make players appear stronger than they actually are.
With Smith's status up in the air, it would not be the least bit surprising if Auburn running back Ronnie Brown went first overall, regardless of whether the Niners keep the top pick or trade it.
Here are three other players The Post has learned are rising meteorically:
Georgia DE David Pollack - It would be shocking if Pollack got past the Lions at 10, and he very likely could go higher. He's certainly not exceptionally big, strong, or fast, but the kid can flat-out play. He reminds many scouts of a Tedy Bruschi type-player.
Maryland DE/LB Shawne Merriman - A great offseason has him almost definitely jumping into the Top 10. He's extremely versatile and a relentless, aggressive pass rusher who could land in Washington at No. 9.
Georgia S Thomas Davis - Extremely big hitter continues to climb the charts and looks to be headed toward the top half of the first round, potentially going to Houston with the 13th pick, or even possibly sixth overall to Tennessee.
As for those who have hurt themselves:
Michigan DB Marlin Jackson - A corner who also projects to play safety didn't do himself any favors by injuring his wrist at Michigan's pro day. He's likely to drop into the bottom of the first round. The Eagles, at 31, would love to jump on Jackson.
West Virginia CB Adam "Pac-Man" Jones - While the media's hyping Jones as a Top 5 pick, several scouts and personnel types said they wouldn't be surprised if he fell all the way to the bottom of the first round, and potentially into the second. While possessing tremendous speed, Jones is very short (5-8), very undisciplined and needs a lot of technique work.
Texas LB Derrick Johnson - His production clearly doesn't match his hype. The rap on Johnson is that he can dominate lesser competition, but disappears in big games. Not a great way to enter the professional level.
CLOSING THE GATES
Look for Chargers star tight end Antonio Gates to sit out training camp if he doesn't get a new contract before then. Several of Gates' teammates told The Post he's not going to show if he doesn't get a new pact. Gates, who burst onto the scene last season with 81 catches for 964 yards and 13 touchdowns, is scheduled to make a mere $380,000 this season, the last of his deal. Gates is looking to be paid commensurate with his production, and isn't expected to show up at camp until he is. Several messages left by The Post with Gates' agent, Roosevelt Barnes, went unreturned.
BELL RINGS RISKY
No doubt, the Chiefs were happy to land free agent linebacker Kendrell Bell. But sources within the organization stated they're "holding their breath" regarding Bell's injured shoulder and are fearful that it could hamper and even end his career in the near future. The former defensive rookie of the year scared some teams off with his high salary demands, others with his questionable attitude. Kansas City did sign Bell, but split his signing bonus up so it'd be covered in case his shoulder turns out to be a problem. Of his $10 million bonus, he'll get $3.5 million if he's still on the roster in 2006 and another $3 million if he's around in '07.