FSU's Robinson wowing NFL teams; LSU's LaFell's disappointing

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    FSU's Robinson wowing NFL teams; LSU's LaFell's disappointing
    .Dennis Dillon

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    Login or register to post commentsPrinter-friendly versionThursday, Mar. 25, 2010 - 9:30 p.m. ET
    Players have been moving up and down NFL teams' draft boards for months. The reasons can be related to their all-star game performances, their workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine or the drills at their school's pro day—or a character or personality nugget a scout might have discovered.

    Dan Williams could be good alternative if a team can't grab one of the top two defensive tackles.After talking to three college scouting directors for NFL teams, we have identified three players who have risen and three who have fallen since the end of the 2009 season:

    Moving up
    1. Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State

    Draft grade then: Top of third round or bottom of second.

    Draft grade now: In the top 15-25 picks overall.

    The skinny: After a good week at the Senior Bowl, Robinson followed up with an impressive Combine and pro day. He is a well-rounded cornerback who has an explosive burst and good coverage skills. Scouts say he has the ability to play press or zone coverage.

    The view: "He plays as fast as he needs to play," an AFC college scouting director said, "and I think that's a good quality to have."

    2. Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

    Draft grade then: Middle of second round.

    Draft grade now: Late first round.

    The skinny: Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy are considered the two elite defensive tackles in this draft. Everyone behind them is fighting for the next spot. Williams, a slow but steady riser in mock drafts but a player NFL teams have been fond of all along, could claim it.

    What makes him most appealing is he could play nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme or the 3-technique tackle in a 4-3 defense. He is a big guy who can clog the inside and is tough to move. Williams isn't the most polished pass rusher but can get under a center, collapse the pocket and pressure the quarterback.

    The view: "He reassured everybody that what they saw on film is factually true," an NFC scouting director said.

    3. Daryl Washington, OLB, TCU

    Draft grade then: Top of the third round, bottom of the second.

    Draft grade now: Top of the second round.

    The skinny: This year's outside linebackers class is considered a weak group, but Washington stands out—mainly because of his athleticism. He has excellent size (at 230 pounds, he's actually 15 pounds bigger than some scouts thought) and good speed. Even if he only plays on special teams as a rookie, he should be ready to start at linebacker in Year 2.

    The view: "He runs to the ball and makes plays all over the place," the NFC scouting director said. "That's what you're supposed to do."

    Falling down
    1. Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU

    Draft grade then: First round.

    Draft grade now: Second or third round.

    The skinny: LaFell was a highly rated prospect after his junior season, and scouts expected him to perform even better in 2009. Instead, he couldn't maintain the momentum—his production fell off, and he was inconsistent catching the ball—and he leveled off.

    LaFell missed an opportunity to change perceptions about him when an injury prevented him from playing in the Senior Bowl. He also didn't measure up well against the other wide receivers at the Combine, where he neither ran well nor performed well in drills.

    The view: "When you turn on LSU film, you don't see a player who dominates the competition he's playing against," the AFC scouting director said. "You want to see that out of a big-time receiver."

    2. Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida

    Draft grade then: Top-10 pick.

    Related Links
    Prospect profile: Brandon LaFell
    Brown: Safety surge in this year's draft
    Mock Draft: Spikes will go high in Round 2
    War Room: Three-round mock draft
    Super 99: Ranking the prospects
    .Draft grade now: Top of the second round.

    The skinny: Scouts didn't expect Spikes to run a blazing 40 at Florida's pro day—and they weren't disappointed. Speed is not Spikes' forte. Brian Urlacher, he is not. This is what Spikes is: A big, tough, diagnostic playmaker—and he'll probably start as a rookie. There's not a lot of quality at linebacker in this draft class, so Spikes isn't expected to drop too far.

    The view: "The teams that like him are going to like him for what he is—an in-the-box, downhill, strong player who diagnoses quickly," a second AFC scouting director said. "He's not a fast guy over 40 yards, but he can play quick in the box."

    3. Greg Hardy, DE, Ole Miss

    Draft grade then: Middle of first round.

    Draft grade now: Bottom of second round or top of the third.

    The skinny: Hardy has talent, all right. He just doesn't show it often enough. As a junior and senior, he didn't even start for Ole Miss; instead, he rotated in. Hardy is big and has pass-rush ability, but he doesn't show it down-in and down-out. He also can be aloof at times, which won't endear himself to NFL coaches.

    The view: "Hardy has all the physical skills in the world," the NFC scouting director said. "But he's got to do some soul searching and find out if football is important to him."

    This story appears in March 26's edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today for free.

    Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

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