Of Connor Barwin's options, D is the best answer

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by SDogo, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. SDogo

    SDogo Not as good as I once was but as good once as I ev

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    Feb. 3, 2009 Print it

    By Russ Lande

    One of the more interesting players in the 2009 NFL Draft is Cincinnati's Connor Barwin, a tight end until switching to defensive end as a senior. He is definitely a better end prospect. He is raw and learning the position but is athletic and intense.

    After a strong senior season, Barwin was invited to the Senior Bowl but surprisingly was used primarily as a tight end early in the week. He slowly worked more and more at end as the week progressed and showed flashes of talent.

    NFL coaches are grinding film of his '08 season to get a good feel before heading to the NFL Scouting Combine on Feb. 18. Because of his athleticism and lack of experience at the position, Barwin will receive a ton of attention at the Combine and other pre-draft workouts.

    With a strong series of workouts, Barwin should put himself into third-round consideration with a chance to move into the second round.

    Is Matthews a one-year wonder?

    A number of NFL personnel people are trying to figure out Southern Cal outside linebacker Clay Matthews. Matthews showed at the Senior Bowl he is athletic enough to be a productive NFL starter and has rare size and strength for a player with his level of athleticism.

    Despite being so gifted, the concern is that he did not get on the field much before his senior season.

    Sure, he was behind Keith Rivers and Lawrence Jackson in '07, but players who were only productive for one season in college always draw close scrutiny. We like Matthews a lot and think he will become a good NFL starter, but NFL teams will dig and dig to make sure there aren't underlying issues.

    Be wary of this love affair

    Michigan CB Morgan Trent is moving up draft boards because of strong all-star practices and good 40-yard dash times even though he did not grade out well on film. Trent is tall and showed quick footwork, good agility and surprising speed during at the East-West Shrine Game practices and then at the Senior Bowl after being an injury replacement.

    Sitting with numerous scouts during the practices both weeks, I kept hearing the same thing: "Watch out, people are going to fall in love with him out here and will disregard his inconsistent production at Michigan." We always have viewed Trent as a seventh-round prospect, but if he runs well in the 40 (we suspect he will), he could be move into the middle rounds.

    Making his fortune in Texas

    When doing film work on North Carolina tackle Garrett Reynolds, we liked what we saw and believed he would be a good mid-round pick. However, Reynolds surprisingly was not invited to the East-West Shrine Game or Senior Bowl. He ended up in El Paso, Texas, for the Texas vs. The Nation Game and helped himself.

    Many teams pegged Reynolds as not being athletic enough to play outside and thus projected him at guard, figuring him to be a seventh-round prospect. After a strong week of practices in El Paso -- where he proved to be the second-best lineman there -- most teams now view him as an option at tackle and project him to be drafted in the fourth, fifth or sixth round.

    'Tweener personified

    Oklahoma's Nic Harris came to the Senior Bowl hoping to prove capable of playing outside linebacker after playing mostly safety in college. The results were mixed.

    No one doubts that Harris has the quickness and speed to be an effective NFL linebacker, and he seemed to understand coverage playing close to the line of scrimmage. However, he looked upright and mechanical for a linebacker and looked awkward trying to change directions and bend knees to move and adjust smoothly.

    Despite the Senior Bowl invitation, Harris remains a late-round option because he is a safety/linebacker 'tweener and lacks the elite speed and athleticism to assure GMs he can play one of the positions effectively.

    Bend it like Beckum?

    When the Combine kicks off, you can be sure that NFL teams will be paying close attention to Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum. They first want to gauge how he is recuperating from his October broken leg and if he will be able to workout. If deemed ready to workout, teams will take a close look to see if Beckum's speed and receiving skills remain at an elite level. Additionally, teams will want to take a close look at his physique to determine if he has enough bulk/strength to be a durable NFL player.

    Patriot-ism

    The Patriots are weighing a number of positions to address with their first-round pick. Both offense and defense are in the mix at No. 23 overall, and the Boston Globe reports New England's front office has its early eyes on two players in particular -- Alabama safety Rashad Johnson and Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

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