ACC Pro Days: Hidden Players Time to Shine

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    cowboyjoe Well-Known Member

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    ACC Pro Days: Hidden Players Time to Shine
    March 11th, 2010 By De'Angelo Bryant
    The conclusion of the NFL combine last week brings the beginning of Pro Day for many NFL prospects who weren’t among the 329 participants in Indianapolis. Over the next few weeks, scouts, coaches, and general managers will explore the many universities around the country to discover the next great NFL player to add to their organization. As chief reporter for the ACC, I wanted to shine a little light on the hidden gems from each school around the ACC that will be looking to make a statement at their pro days.

    Boston College
    WR Rich Gunnell- Boston College's all-time leading receiver established himself as one of the premier wide receivers in the ACC last season. Gunnell led the Golden Eagles with 60 receptions while helping them reach the Emerald Bowl against the USC Trojans. The 6'0" senior is a good slot receiver, often capitalizing on underneath routes and finding a seam in the middle of the field. The one thing that stands out about this player is he keeps himself active throughout the entire play (see Matt Ryan's TD pass in 2007 vs. Wake Forest). Gunnell must prove to scouts he can be a no. 2 receiver if he wants to stay out of the free agent pool.

    S Marcellus Bowman- This big physical safety was second on the team in tackles with 73 last season. Bowman is mostly a downhill player that benefits from playing closer to the line of scrimmage where he can be disruptive on wide receiver screens and quick passes. Similar to Kam Chancellor and Terrell Skinner, Bowman passes the eyeball test as a football player. He does have some major coverage issues playing on the back end that could hinder his chances as a NFL player.

    DE Austin Giles- The native of Marshfield, Massachusetts has played in over 50 games, starting more than half of them. Giles does not have ideal numbers, especially for a guy who was left unattended at times in 2008 due to the attention that Ron Brace and B.J. Raji received. What Giles brings to a team is experience, leadership, relentless work ethic, and reliability on the edge. Balance, speed, and agility are a huge question mark for the 278 pound defensive end.

    DE Jim Ramella- This is another player with very little production and a lot of experience. Ramella started in 30 straight contests while leading the Golden Eagles with three sacks last season. Surprisingly, he jumped out on film as a guy who displayed range and knowledge as a defensive end. He has a tendency to lose containment and struggles to recover once he commits one direction. His strength is very questionable, but he can lay that to rest with an impressive 225 test at his pro day.


    TE Michael Palmer- Palmer became the first Clemson tight end to receive first team All-ACC honors since Jim Riggs in 1986. Palmer displayed his ability to find soft coverages in the defense all season long, coming up with 43 catches and breaking Clemson's single-season record that stood since 1970. With his soft hands and versatility at the position, he may capture the eyes of a few NFL scouts on hand. Palmer's 40 time will be the ice breaker for his future as an NFL player.

    H-Back Rendrick Taylor- Coming out of high school with such promise and hopes, Taylor has failed to live up to the expectations of the fans and coaches at Clemson. Since his time at Clemson, he has played five or more positions with four of them being on the offensive side of the football. Taylor, who arrived at Clemson weighing 225, now weighs more than 265 pounds. After numerous injuries and battling weight control, Taylor finds himself scraping the bottom of the barrel for a chance to be an NFL player. If he can test well and show scouts that he has overcome his serious injuries, the Marlboro, SC native could end up in someone's camp.

    OLB Kevin Alexander- After spending his first 3 seasons as a backup DE, Kevin Alexander switched to outside linebacker for the chance to show off his 6'4" frame, range, and versatility. Alexander lacks the quickness and instincts at this point, but could be developed as a 3-4 OLB. He tied for fifth in tackles on the Tigers roster in 2009.

    Florida State
    WR Rod Owens- This player may have been the hidden surprise of the ACC. Owens finished the season with 61 receptions for 729 yards. Owens displayed fearlessness when going across the middle, coming up with huge catches for the Seminoles last season. After all, who can forget the game-changing play on Thursday night against North Carolina when he caught a 98-yard touchdown and took the air out of the Tar Heels defense? If Owens can run in the 4.4 range, he has a chance to move up the receiver board as a possible late round draft pick.

    WR Richard Goodman- He entered this season as the Seminole's golden egg, but low productivity and an assault incident landed the receiver with limited playing time in 2009. As a sophomore, Goodman seemed to be having a career year in every receiving category before breaking his fibula. Missing all of his junior season, Goodman will be looking to revive his chances for a shot to play football again.

    TE Caz Piurowski- Piurowski has recently applied to the NCAA for medical hardship and should be receiving word back soon on the status of his future. If the NCAA denies him of an extra year, Puirowski will be unable to participate on Pro Day. Standing at 6'7", 272, he has rare measurable stature but failed to be a receiving threat after his freshman season.

    DE Kevin McNeil- At times, this guy can look like an All-American. At other times, he looks like a high school player. McNeil exhibits great power on the bull rush and at times looked to be unblockable, early in the season. Where he lacks is the first step explosion to be an effective every down lineman in the NFL.

    S Jamie Robinson- The Rock Hill, SC native was a three-year starter on Mickey Andrew's defense. Robinson stepped his game up in 2009 intercepting four passes, including one in the Gator Bowl against West Virginia. If Robinson can overcome the mental lapses that have plagued him for much of his career, he could add to an NFL team's depth at the safety position.

    Georgia Tech

    OLB Cedric Griffin- Coming off of his best season in terms of production, Griffin was identified as a classic "tweener" at linebacker. He only stands about 5'10", 225 and is considered undersized for linebacker but too slow to play defensive back. He does flash explosions as an edge rusher, though. Hopefully his weigh-in at Pro Day will change the minds of scouts when evaluating this guy. A nice 40 time would help his case as well.

    OG Cord Howard- If it had not been for Paul Johnson's offense, this guy could be further along in his progression as an NFL offensive lineman. Of course he will stand out as a physical run blocker, but his pass blocking ability is questionable. During the East/West Shrine Game, his reaction off the ball when pass setting was a split second later than everyone else's. Hopefully Howard has improved on his foot speed and hand placement before Pro Day, something he could not show throughout the season.


    LB Vincent Rey- In 2007 and 2008 Rey made 220 tackles, placing him in the top three of the ACC. There is nothing special about Rey when you watch him, except for the fact that he always ends up around the football. The biggest concern about Rey is his inability to remain on his feet throughout the course of a game. Last season against Miami, Rey was knocked down five times in the first half. His questionable balance, speed, and athleticism will more than likely keep him as a PFA.

    RB RaQuan Boyette- After the arrival of David Cutcliff, the running back position at Duke seemed to be invisible since he committed to throwing the football over 30 times a game. Boyette split time as a freshman and sophomore, but did flash intangibles as a hard-nosed runner.

    CB/WR Sam Shields- Shields had his most productive year as a freshman with 37 grabs, averaging nearly 14 yards per reception. As a senior, he made the switch to cornerback, starting 10 of 11 games throughout the season and recording 41 tackles. Shields has elite speed and versatility but his technique still remains undeveloped. The Sarasota native will likely be asked to workout as a WR, CB and return specialist.

    TE Dedrick Epps- Epps overcame a serious knee injury to put together a good senior campaign. He became the go-to target for the 'Canes earlier in the season, coming up with two touchdown catches in wins against Georgia Tech and Oklahoma. Although overshadowed by the more appealing Jimmy Graham, Epps established himself as the starting TE in the majority of the Hurricanes' contests. Epps must prove he has overcome the knee injury that nearly sidelined him for the 2009 season. He looked a bit gimpy in games last season, and scouts will look to see if his lateral movement has improved since the season.

    DE Eric Moncur- The 2009 season was a disappointing one for Moncur. He seemed to be the catalyst of the front four after his sophomore season, but statistics show his numbers have dropped significantly since then. He has potential to be a force up front but needs to improve on his first step explosion and stamina. Moncur could be a camp guy despite posting disappointing numbers the last two years.

    OC A.J. Trump- Trump took over duties at the center position in 2009, but saw significant playing time in 2008. He has spent time at both the guard and tackle positions but appears to have found a home as a center. Trump still struggles in pass protection, but he has the body and frame to be effective as a center. His experience at all three positions could intrigue scouts as a swing man in the NFL.

    CB Chavez Grant- Grant started seven games in 2008 as the left side cornerback. In 2009, he struggled to remain in the lineup, playing sparingly as a reserve cornerback for the 'Canes. His inconsistency kept him out of lineup and his pedestrian speed may handicap his chances as an NFL player.

    S Randy Phillips- Injuries have handicapped Phillips' career, but when healthy, he can be a presence on the field. There is no doubt he has all the tools in the making, but he must improve vastly in coverage, especially near the red zone. Phillips appears to have clear knowledge of the game and should add depth as a special teams defender. If the 210 pound safety can perform well at pro day, expect him to come off the board in the sixth or seventh round of the NFL Draft.

    North Carolina

    Arelic Mullins- Mullins was officially invited to the combine but did not participate in any drills. The 6'1" 321 pounder was primarily used as a rotation guy, but he caught the eye of scouts because of his pass rushing skills. Questions about how well he can carry his weight will be the biggest factor at his pro day. Those answers could determine whether he is a free agent or a late-round draft pick.


    CB Nolan Carroll- Carroll was on the initial list to workout at the NFL combine but failed to do so because of his season-ending injury in 2009. The one thing that will jump out about Carroll is his explosiveness. Carroll spent the early part of his collegiate career as a wide receiver before making the transition to defense as sophomore. Lower body extremities and only six career starts will be major question marks for the former Terrapin.

    S Terrell Skinner- Skinner was a participant in the 2010 Under Armor Senior Bowl. During that time, DraftNasty pointed out a few weaknesses such as: stiffness, questionable speed, and taking bad angles to the football. Skinner was left off the list of participants at the NFL combine but still can push for a mid-round pick, reminiscent of fourth round draft pick Chip Vaughn (N.O. Saints), his physique and style of play.

    CB Anthony Wiseman- He is short, quick, and physical. Wiseman was primarily asked to play in a cover two scheme where he was involved a lot in plays around the line of scrimmage. The 5'9" corner displays great timing on corner blitzes from the boundary and field, often reaching the backfield to disrupt the play. His individual workout will be the biggest test for him because, on film, he displayed a lack of make-up speed and inability to turn and run in a straight line.

    DT Travis Ivey- He is a big, athletic body in the middle that can be hard to move at times. Measuring in at 6'4" 341 at the Texas vs. Nation all-star game solidified his beastly body type in the middle. Ivey needs to improve on balance and fatigue, something he struggled with a lot during his career. He could project as a 3-4 nose tackle because of his ability to be a two gap defender. An impressive workout could land the Maryland native in the seventh round.

    QB Chris Turner- As a three-year starter, Turner had his fair share of ups and downs as the Terrapins signal caller, but he remained a vital piece of the offense. The 6'4" gunslinger completed 63 percent of his passes as a junior. He leaves Maryland ranked as one of the all-time leading passers behind Boomer Esiason, Shaun Hill, and Sam Hollenbach. Turner has the frame and poise to be a NFL quarterback, but his touchdown-to-interception ratio has been 50/50 throughout his career.

    FB Cory Jackson- Jackson has played in every game as the Terps' fullback, paving the way for 1,100 yard rusher Da'Rel Scott in 2008. Jackson is a powerful fullback that does a good job of rooting out a defender on isolation blocks. He is also a valuable threat in the red zone as a pass catcher in the flats. Although he may not get drafted, expect him to land a spot in someone's camp.

    NC State

    RB Toney Baker- Once regarded as the top running back in the ACC, Baker has struggled to get back in the limelight after his freshman season. Baker was sidelined for most of the 2007 season and missed all of 2008 after suffering a serious knee injury. The 225 pound back came to NC State with such high expectations; after all, he is the all-time high school leading rusher in North Carolina. Baker worked relentlessly to regain strength in his knee and start for the Wolfpack in 2009. He finished the 2009 season with 773 yards and 6 touchdowns. If Baker can pass all physical examinations, the powerful back could become a high-commodity free agent.

    RB Jamelle Eugene- Just when playing time seemed so far away for Eugene, it became a reality in 2007. After running backs Toney Baker and Andre Brown went down with season-ending injuries, Eugene quickly became the workhorse. Eugene is a threat on the perimeter as a runner and has reliable hands as a receiver. In four years he has 93 receptions, second in the ACC behind Mikell Simpson of UVA.

    OT Jeraill McCuller- He has exceptional size as an offensive tackle (6'7", 325) and displays a great base when blocking. He has the potential to be a dominant blocker but struggles against the speed rush because he quick sets. His size may be overwhelming to scouts when they evaluate him.

    DT Alan-Michael Cash- Cash has been a productive starter on the Wolfpack's defensive line since arriving on campus. He has all of the characteristics anyone could ask for in a football player and student of the game. He is better as a gap-control defensive tackle where he can maneuver his way to penetrate the gaps. Cash has great closing speed when going in for the hit, something he exhibited against Wake Forest in 2008.

    S Clem Johnson- Johnson could be a guy that will turn some heads at pro day. He has great fluidity and was one of the best athletes on the team during the last two seasons. At times, he gets too eager to make the big plays which often results in missed assignments. Johnson's best chance to make an NFL roster will be through special teams.

    Virginia Tech

    DT Codarrow Thompson- He was a space eater that required double teams many times throughout the course of a game. At this point, he is nothing more than a pure run-stuffer in the middle. He needs to get better as a penetrating defender and improve his awareness to protect his knees from potential cut blocks.

    SS Dorian Porch- He was the team's rover and often showed up on film toward the end of the season. Porch is a bit of a thumper, but struggles in coverage to be a true safety. He has great change of direction and plays his best football near the line of scrimmage.

    OG Sergio Render- Render and Ed Wang teamed up to make one of the fiercest guard/tackle combinations in the country. Render, who was left off the list of NFL combine participants, will be eager to make a statement as the best OG coming from the ACC. The 318 pound guard is a tremendous asset to have in the running game and has the athleticism to an effective blocker, even when he makes a mistake. Despite having two surgeries during his career, Render could end up a possible fifth to sixth round draft pick.

    TE Greg Boone- Even though he was blessed with great athleticism and versatility, Greg Boone will not make the cut to be a draftable player. Questions concerning his weight control have been looming for quite some time, and they have prevented his career from reaching its full potential. Boone made the switch from quarterback to tight end as a redshirt freshman, but he has been utilized in the Hokies' offense in various ways. Boone needs to show up at pro day in shape and ready to produce if playing at the next level is a part of his plan.

    DE Nekos Brown- He is an undersized defensive end that plays with reckless abandon off the edge. Brown spent most of his career as a reserve defensive end and finally cracked into the starting lineup as a senior. Last season, he recorded 56 tackles and 6 ½ sacks behind counterpart Jason Worilds. Similar to Worilds, Brown may be asked to workout as a 3-4 outside linebacker to help his stock.

    K Matt Waldron- Waldron was considered one of the best kickers in the ACC last season. He was 100 percent on points after and 87 percent on field goals in 2009. Waldron has a strong leg, but getting height on his kicks has been a concern over the last two seasons.

    Wake Forest

    John Russell- This guy may be one of the most underrated players coming out of the ACC this season. Russell received first team honors after leading the Demon Deacons with 4 ½ sacks in 2009. The Jacksonville native will project as a five technique because of his size and ability to stunt in the trenches. He has strong upper body strength but needs tremendous work to improve his total body stiffness.

    Mike Rinfrette- From fullback to linebacker to tight end and back to fullback, Rinfrette has seen his fair share of football as a Demon Deacon. Rinfrette is a smart and physical player that brings just enough finesse to make him a threat out of the backfield. Because of Rinfrette's versatility, his shot as a potential H-Back could be accessible for an NFL team.

    RB Kevin Harris- The bull-dozing Harris has struggled to regain his form since his freshman season in Jim Grobe's offense. As a freshman, Harris averaged five yards per carry and had six touchdowns, two of which came in the season finale against Maryland. The Floridian was named the starter after his 136-yard performance in the inaugural Eagle Bank bowl in 2008. Harris has questionable agility, but should test well at Wake's pro day.


    RB Mikell Simpson- 2 years ago Simpson burst onto the scenes as one of the most prolific running backs in the ACC. As a sophomore, Simpson caught 43 passes for 402 yards to lead UVA in receiving. His build is like a receiver, and he is most dangerous on outside zone perimeter runs. Simpson must improve on his pass blocking and learn how to run behind his pads. He also could project as a returner, an ability he has shown throughout his career at UVA.

    OT Will Barker- UVA has been known for producing offensive tackles. At 6'7" Barker is a great zone blocker that has understanding and knowledge of zone concepts. Barker must improve on pass blocking and picking up blitzes, which is evident on film.

    DT Nate Collins- The first team All-ACC defensive tackle recorded 77 tackles, 10 ½ tackles for loss, and six sacks last season. Collins has remarkable athleticism, as he was asked to play as a five technique in Al Groh's 3-4 defense. Collins appears to just be grasping the game, which may explain his success as a senior. Collins will probably be a 4-3 defensive tackle, but don't be surprised if a team capitalizes on his experience and knowledge as a 3-4 defensive end.

    CB/R/WR Vic Hall- The biggest question will be: At what position will he work out? Hall was a solid cornerback as a sophomore, but because of some key loses at the quarterback position, he was asked to take over duties as the Cavaliers' signal caller. Since then, Hall has been struggling with nagging injuries that have limited his playing time. In 2009, Hall's role increased on both offense and defense. Hall saw duty as a receiver, cornerback, quarterback, and return man, often in the same game. Hall is quicker than he is fast, so I don't anticipate a great 40 time. I believe the 5'9" athlete will project as a cornerback and a returner.

    QB Jameel Sewell- The left-handed signal caller finished out his career as UVA's starting quarterback despite missing all of 2008 for academic infractions. Although his numbers were never stellar, he gave UVA fans something to talk about every time the ball touched his hands. Sewell wasn't much of a system player and struggled to read defenses throughout his career. As a freshman, many believed he was the next Vince Young in the making.

    OLB Denzel Burrell- Burrell was a two-year starter as an outside linebacker for the Cavaliers. He has great size and instincts for the position but struggles to make many plays. He has managed to stay consistent the last two seasons, recording just over 45 tackles. He has great core strength but horrible hip flexibility to turn and run in pass coverage. He is solid against the run but will require major work to utilize his strengths.

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