Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: Extremely muscular, thick and stout with a compact frame. He spoke very well and already carries himself like a seasoned professional; conversation was impressive. Called himself a versatile running back (run inside/out, receiving skills and pass protection), and I agree. He also said his favorite play is “Gut” (an inside downhill run play between the guards). The best running back in the draft, some people question his overall open field-speed, but he is fast enough and a playmaker.
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn: Tall with v-back (cut high, broad shouldered) with large bubble (buttocks). As the cameras fought to stay in front of him, Newton approached the podium, took the stage with a big smile and began his press conference in control. He read a prepared statement addressing his entertainment and icon statement (“I didn’t explain myself well enough, I made a mistake”). Stood tall, took the questions from the media and handled it well. You can still see and feel his youth, but this guy already carries himself like a pro, with confidence, poise and charisma.
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: Tall v-back with long arms … cut high, with large bubble and large thighs. He did a good job handling the questions from the media; conversation was crisp and to the point. He patterns his game after the Texans’ Andre Johnson. I like his size; he is physical and is going to run fast for a big receiver.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri: Very good height and length. Spoke very well with confidence, great personality and had fun with the media, flipping some question back at them. This player really carries himself well. He will not work out at the Combine. Columbia, Mo., will be invaded by NFL personnel staff and several head coaches, as well as coordinators and position coaches, to watch this early-out junior throw in the comforts of his environment. This workout will answer a lot of questions.
Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Thick, tight-skin athlete who is well-defined, with a good overall frame. He spoke very well to the media, answered all questions with good eye contact and represented himself very well. Extremely confident in his ability, but understands that he needs to work on pocket awareness and footwork. A very good athlete who is looking forward to displaying his passing skills at the Combine.
Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech: Short, compact, very muscular frame with a thick neck, chest and arms … a ball of muscle. He spoke very well and mentioned his mother as his best friend. Stated that his best asset is his vision. He spent a long time in medical testing and underwent an MRI for a hamstring issue. He also said, “I left school because I’m stingy – I didn’t want to play in a three-back rotation,” and then went on to relay that he told his mother at age eight that he wanted one job in life: the NFL.
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas: Tall quarterback with good frame and long arms. He is rated as my third-highest quarterback in the draft, and might have the most natural throwing motion, especially for a tall quarterback. Mallett might be the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft, from a system standpoint. He is a young man with a big smile, but struggled with questioning when grilled about the rumors surrounding past episodes with drugs. Frustrated by the barrage of questions, he cut the session short and walked off the stage. I received a call from a member of the Arkansas coaching staff, who said, “Ryan Mallett never failed a drug test at the University of Arkansas.” You can see the youth and immaturity, but he can spin the ball. This player just needs time.
Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson: V-back with thick traps, large arms and a well-developed chest. Very good thickness in lower body, with a large bubble and thighs. He spoke very confidently, and you could tell that when he speaks, it’s all business both on and off the field. This is an extremely talented football player. Has very good natural bend with burst for a big man, and can play in either front (3-4, 4-3) with natural pass-rush skills. Possible first pick in the draft.
Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama: Great size, with thickness and girth in both upper and lower body. Arm length is good, not great. Spoke and carried himself very well. Player who passes the eye test – a man. He talked about playing inside in a 4-3 front at the 3-technique: “I’m a nice guy that likes to have fun.” To me, a big man who could snap your neck in a heartbeat. He is going to be a very good NFL interior lineman.
Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri: Sleek frame, with room to add bulk. Weighed 264, looked 245. Long arms with huge wingspan. Spoke really well and looked you in the eyes when speaking to you. He addressed the ankle injury that hampered his performance last fall in an honest way. Good personality. Another early-out junior who will grow into that frame. I see him as a 4-3 end after some more weight-room development, but not sure of football instincts in space for a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina: Narrow shoulders with very good upper body, chest and arms. Good lower-body thickness. He was not very comfortable speaking with the media and seemed slightly programmed. Talked about the NCAA violation that he and a few teammates were involved in (taking jewelry and other items from a store and an agent). He also spoke about his medical issues, specifically surgery for a brain tumor as a senior in high school; still must receive an MRI every six months to monitor the situation. Despite nervousness, a nice young man and very good football player.