NFL Draft: Small school prospects to watch
The NFL Scouting Combine is in full swing in Indianapolis. I have already given you the five players to watch this week for the Arizona Cardinals, and I promised more of that, so today I deliver.
Here are five more players to keep an eye on, and chances are you haven’t heard of them since they played their college ball at smaller schools.
Terron Armstead, OL, Arkansas Pine-Bluff – 6-5, 306 lbs.
Armstead already quelled some of my concerns with his measurements, measuring an inch taller than I had listed him in my interior offensive line rankings and showing off a good arm length at 34 inches. This has me rethinking if he will need to be kicked into a guard position at the next level.
That isn’t what I’ll be watching on Armstead this week, though — I want to see his strength. He had the ability to physically manhandle opponents at the smaller schools and held up at the Senior Bowl, but how strong is he?
The Cardinals took two players with strength concerns on the offensive line in last year’s draft with Senio Kelemete (21 reps on bench) and Nate Potter (22 reps). While those two were thrust into play — and were adequate — they didn’t show the ability to get a push in the run game and lacked the ability root out and drive defenders.
If the Cardinals are employing a power-run scheme, we need to see players with some strength on the line.
Note — I don’t usually care much about bench press numbers, but adding more players who need to improve their strength to a team that needs offensive line help isn’t exactly something I am interested in.
Earl Watford, OG, James Madison University – 6-3, 300 lbs.
Watford is already opening the eyes of some scouts, as he weighed in a full ten pounds heavier in the combine than his listed playing weight of 290 this season for JMU.
Watford is an athletic guard who can move well in space and is quick off the line, but I want to watch his strength.
I know he is a guy that can move, but can he be a guy that can fit into a power-based scheme in the NFL or is he going to get labeled as a zone blocking scheme-type?
What Watford does on the bench won’t make or break his NFL career, but it may break the interest the Cardinals have in him on day three.
Keith Pough, LB, Howard – 6-1, 241 lbs.
The darling of the Shrine Game, Pough displayed an impressive, physical, non-stop game that caught the eyes of all the scouts in attendance.
What Pough brings to the field is never a question. He was a tackling machine at Howard with excellent instincts, passion and understanding of the game. Quite honestly, he looks like a guy that is playing with bad intentions at times, and that’s not a bad thing.
There are concerns though, and not just because he played at Howard. Pough has adequate game speed but isn’t a blazer, and there are questions on what position he can play in the NFL — is he a 4-3 SLB only, can he play outside in a 3-4 or will he need to learn to play inside?
Those questions will be dispelled for some, or proven accurate, with Pough’s 40 time, but I don’t agree with that.
I want to see what Pough’s ten-yard splits are and how he moves in the short area drills (three cone and shuttle) and then I feel like we’ll know if he is a guy that could maybe play next to Daryl Washington on the inside or on the outside in the Cardinals’ defense.
B.W. Webb, CB, William and Mary – 5-10, 183 lbs.
The Cardinals are in a bit of a quandary in the secondary. With only three players under contract, they should be looking to address the need in the draft.
The problem is they have taken cornerbacks early in the draft each of the last two seasons, though that may not stop them from drafting one on day two again.
Webb has excellent feet, is quick, and at the Senior Bowl showed a physicality that wasn’t as apparent on film.
The question I want answered this week is about Webb’s technique.
Technique in and out of his breaks, turning his hips and running with bigger players; his frame raises questions about being able to play outside enough and if he can do that without being overly “handsy”.
You might say ‘it’s in shorts against the air’, and you’d be right, but if his technique is questionable versus no competition, what will that mean when he gets on the field? If the Cardinals are going to invest a third round pick in a corner again, and it is a realistic need, I want to see fluid footwork getting in and out of his breaks.
Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech – 6-2, 206 lbs.
I know I am cheating on the last one and raising your blood pressure all at the same time.
You might be saying “The Cardinals just drafted a wide receiver!” and you’re right, but they need someone who can stretch the field in Bruce Arians’ vertical passing game.
Rogers has a Chad Johnson (yes, the ex-Bengals WR) quality about him. He has the ability to get deep and tracks the ball well.
He makes plays after the catch and would add another element to the receiving game, one the Cardinals don’t have right now.
I’ll be waiting for the reports on his interviews — how he answers the questions about his time at Tennessee, and if he is serious about the game of football.