Three week to go buzz … Indeed, the actual draft will be well underway three weeks from now as we speak. Hang in there. It is something that I have not seen referenced by anybody else but it certainly gave me pause when Alabama OT Evan Neal opted not to run at the Tide’s pro day late last month after he also didn’t run at the combine. Neal indicated at the time that he felt he didn’t need to prove himself which makes some sense on the surface. He was an All-American who dominated at the college level. At the same time, though, he is reportedly one of 2-3 OTs vying to be the first player at the position off the board at this month’s draft, if not the first player selected period. And the other guys in contention both ran under 5-flat. The first thing that popped into my head is that these guys have a pretty good idea what their 40 is going to be and Neal opted not to run because he, or his agent, were concerned that he wasn’t going to run much better than 5.30 or so. Again, not bad at all for a 345-pound guy, but not really LT stuff. Neal then doubled down on our concern when he indicated he’d be happy to play anywhere on the OL (other than C). And its LTs that teams usually want they take an OT with a top 5 or so pick. Again, we’re just spitballing here, but it is certainly something that would give us pause if we were looking at Neal as a possible early pick.
The buzz keeps growing that Detroit is really interested in taking enigmatic Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux with the 2nd pick overall later this month. Certainly, no team has done more due diligence on Thibodeaux, who is immensely talented physically, but has been dogged by questions about his work ethic and commitment to the game. However, if any team is going to have a feel for the answer its the Lions who met Thibodeaux at the combine in March. Then G.M. Brad Holmes, who had previously attended an Oregon game during the season, led a contingent of Lions’ coaches and scouts to Oregon’s pro day last week. And Thibodeaux is scheduled to make a top-30 visit to Detroit. That’s a lot of due diligence on a guy if you don’t already have a pretty good grade on him from your scouting department.
There is also a bit of a growing buzz surrounding Georgia WR George Pickens. At this time last year, Pickens was being talked about a a possible top 10-15 pick this year, but he tore an ACL in spring practice and barely played last fall. However, he was able to participate fully at the combine where the 6-3, 195-pounder had a very respectable 40 clocking of 4.47 seconds and that reportedly has teams thinking of him as at least an early second round prospect this year if not a late first rounder. Indeed, our Larry Parker, who lives in the Kansas City area, reports that he has heard that the Chiefs have been looking hard at Pickens for one of their two first round picks as they look to rebuild the position after trading Tyreek Hill to Miami.
Another player who seems to be rising these days into the mid-second day discussion is Central Michigan OG Luke Goedeke; he has good size at 6-5, 312, is a solid technician and has a nasty disposition on the field. Goedeke, though, hasn’t been able to run so far this spring because of a hamstring problem but does have a private workout slated for April 22nd where he’ll get one final chance to impress NFL teams with his athleticism. Meanwhile, when a third-day player starts to get a lot of visits we take note and that’s the case with Missouri State DT Eric Johnson who has as many as a half dozen pre-draft visits on his schedule. Johnson is a 6-4, 299-pound 6th year super senior who never put up big numbers with the Bears but has a nice set of physical tools including almost 35-inch arms, along with a 40 clocking under 4.90 seconds with a very quick 1.70 10-yard split.