Friday, April 3, 2009

Hawaii Pro Day Wrap Up

I end my Pro Day trips with a school's Pro Day that, while not the size of USC's (scouts and team personnel and as many fans and media) was still a well attended, well run day with several players whom scouts were keenly interested in.

The day, held at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, was attended by about 30 scouts from teams such as Carolina, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Seattle and both New York teams. It was a well attended and well orchestrated day, held in two places, one area for the workout drills and one grass field for positional drills.

We started out in a small meeting room where UH head coach Greg McMackin and Associate head coach Rich Miano showed the scouts some highlight videos featuring the various players who would soon be working out.

This just in - all defensive lineman David Veikune does is make plays.

Veikune was certainly one of the main attractions for scouts on Thursday. While he stood on most of the results of his Scouting Combine performance, he did do the 40 yard dash. He ran a 4.80/4.81 in the 40, with 10 yard and 20 yard splits of 1.64/1.71 and 2.82/2.78 respectively.

Veikune also did position drills of course, and as there is some question just where he will fit in at the Pro level, he drilled as an outside linebacker and worked some coverage as well.

Having played as a defensive end in college, Veikune may have to make the switch to a linebacker, specifically if he ends up in a 3-4 scheme. But honestly, scouts and teams are just going to try to find a way to get this playmaker on the field. He won't go early, but he will go and already has interest from several teams including the Eagles, Cowboys, Dolphins and Titans.

Another player scouts were itching to see was cornerback Ryan Mouton. Mouton had pulled a hamstring at the Combine and was hoping to make an impression this time out for scouts.

He began his day on a very high note with an outstanding 11 foot broad jump. He chose to stand on his bench and vert from the Combine and got set to run the 40.

I mentioned this in the USC piece I did, but it seems to me I have written about multiple injuries during 40s this year. Maybe they are just leaping out at me this year, but it feels like I am seeing many more.

Why do I bring this up? You guessed it - he pulled up lame in the 40. Mouton said later he felt it at about the 20 yard mark and he was in clear pain when he crossed the finish line. Still, he ran an impressive 40 time (especially considering). Various scouts had him at anywhere from 4.42 to 4.48. I had him timed at 4.46.

And he did that while clearly pulling up in the last leg. I boggle at how he might have timed had it not happened.

The injury looked worse than what it turned out to be, as he sat in the corner of the practice area for some time. Still, he was out for the day. There were more than a few disappointed noises from the scouts and that tells me he was - and likely still is - very much on the radars of several teams. In fact, he already has a meeting with Jacksonville according to the Honolulu Advertiser.

Several other players are worth talking about as well. Defensive lineman Josh Leonard benched a fantastic 41 times, ran a 4.97 in the 40, had a 31 1/2 vertical and looked solid in drills. Another Leonard linebacker Adam Leonard, had a so-so 40 (7.41/7.52) but in part that was due to some bad starts.

As I saw in San Jose State with corner Coye Francies, once to stumble a few times, it can get in your head. Heck, it was such a worry for USC's Rey Maualuga (who missed drills at the Combine because he pulled a muscle in the 40) that he did the 40 after his position drills.

It certainly affected Adam Leonard and probably contributed to a slower than expected 40 time. But his film and other drills will keep him hopping and he will have the chance to show his stuff at team visits and private workouts I'm sure.

Finally, is it possible to be wowed by a long snapper? Is it right?

Well, it must be because I love what I saw of Jake Ingram.

Ingram was a guy the staff talked about during the film session as a perfectionist and a hard worker. The first guy at practice, the last one to leave.

And you could tell he was a hard worker. Ingram did every drill he could, ran a 4.90/4.86 in the 40, showed a 30 1/2 vert, a 9'9" broad jump, benched 18 times and ran a 4.59 short shuttle.

And that was before he snapped in positional drills.

I wasn't the only one impressed as I saw Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons talking to Ingram a ton and a lot of it shop talk. Of course, a snapper has to do more than snap the ball - and certainly teams will take a long look at a guy like Ingram to make sure he can cover and block. Ingram looked good whenever he was asked to do something and he came off as personable and a nose-to-the-grindstone type of guy.

It's not often I spend much time talking about long snappers, but Ingram had a very solid day.

So ends another Pro Day season and another road trip. It's been a long few months of travel, but is always worth it. Getting to know the scouts a little, chatting with the players and meeting other press like Stephen Tsai and Leila Wai from the Honolulu Advertiser, Sam Farmer from the LA Times at USC's Pro Day and the whole Path to the Draft crew as well - all of it always makes even the longest trips a real joy.

Now comes the hard part for me and the scouts - figuring out where everyone goes.

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