Vladimir Ducasse, OT, Massachusetts
Despite being burdened with his family suffering through the recent devastating earthquake in his native Haiti (he recently confirmed that all of his family members survived), Ducasse has performed well at the Under Armour Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL this past week. Scouts really liked the large (6-5, 330) but nimble mixture of humility and impressive work ethic long before Ducasse arrived in Mobile, describing him as “a good player, long arms, athletic, tenacious, and good feet for his size. He has a little bit of everything he needs to be successful”.
Coming from I-AA UMass, scouts viewed his Senior Bowl participation as a pivotal showcase for him to get exposure to NFL teams and from all indications it has gone according to plan, with widespread rumblings that the massive former soccer player has raised his stock from the third round to the second round with his good week of practice.
Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana
Starting his senior season with a Top 5th round grade from the National Football Scouting group, the 6-4, 304 pound left tackle completed an effective Fall campaign well enough to earn an invitation to the East-West Shrine game and Saffold took full advantage of the opportunity. He dominated the practice week, owning just about every defensive lineman that was put in front of him, impressing NFL team reps with consistently showing the quick feet, long arms and the critical kick-slide needed for pass protection at the left tackle spot. With a good showing at the Indianapolis Combine at the end of February, Saffold stands a good chance of performing his way into the third round of this year’s Draft.
Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale
The nearly 6-8, 321 pound Veldheer hails from tiny Hillsdale College, a Division II school in Michigan. His size and speed (a verified 4.88 forty yard dash for scouts in March of 2009) got him noticed by the scouts initially, which graded him as a priority free agent before his senior season. He’s displayed a surprising athleticism and strength over the last five months and the NFL has become increasingly interested. The former defensive end brings an attack-first mentality to the offensive tackle position which typically houses a passive and reactive mentality and Veldheer has huge mitts (10.125 inch hands) to boot. Veldheer has the Texas Versus the Nation all-star game on February 6th and the Combine to further boost his stock, which has already risen from the free agent ranks to the 5th to 7th round territory.
Maurkice Pouncey, OC, Florida
One of the 53 juniors to declare early, there will be no debate that Pouncey made the right decision once the Draft ends. The 6-5, 318 pound Florida Gator immediately jumps to the head of a subpar center class, lead by seniors Matt Tennant of Boston College and J.D.Walton of Baylor, putting him in position to be a late 1st round or early second round selection, which is typically where the first center of the Draft is taken. Because he’s a junior, Pouncey won’t have a chance to utilize any all-star games-which are reserved for seniors so expect him to make his status as the Draft6’s No. 1 center official at the Indianapolis Combine in late February.
Marshall Newhouse, OG, TCU
The 6-4, 320 Horned Frog started the 2009 campaign with a street free agent grade from scouts who saw him last March at TCU’s Junior Day. The 5.06 forty yard dash time at his size should have earned him a higher initial grade, nonetheless, Newhouse played well enough during his senior year to earn an East-West invite and in the important practice sessions monitored by NFL team officials, Newhouse, playing both tackle and guard positions, showed good take-on strength at the point of attack as well as quickness and good feet to get to the second level and get his body on a defender. An excellent showing in his all-star game combined with what should be a good Combine performance will help solidify a mid-to-late round selection for Newhouse.
Zane Beadles, OT/OG, Utah
Beadles (6-4, 303) got a sixth round grade from the NFL last Spring and played just okay at left tackle for the Utes this year but the NFL sees him as a guard on Sundays, due to his lack of foot speed and arm length. Beadles was exposed badly out in space at the Senior Bowl, primarily by Arkansas State DE Alex Carrington, and then completed the double-whammy of negative exposure when he moved inside to guard and was flummoxed numerous times by Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick, calling into question whether Beadles can be effective at the guard spot, which is essentially his best spot to make a NFL roster. The Senior Bowl, and the direct exposure to NFL decision-makers, can be a double-edged sword for NFL aspirants and that appears to be the case with Beadles all-star game experience. He’ll have to make up for the lost ground that occurred in Mobile at the Combine.
Kevin Haslam, OT, Rutgers
Started out with a Top 6th round grade from the N.F.S. and performed pretty well during his final season at Rutgers, but scouts consistently have him pegged as a late round/priority free agent guy, despite a good frame to add healthy weight to (6-5, 300) and flashing some athletic ability. Scouts continued to see a mixed bag at the East-West Shrine game, where Haslam continued bad habits of stopping his feet and leaning on contact, while also showing decent feet at times in cutting off pass rushers and getting to the second level to deal defenders. One scout commented about Haslam’s on-field demeanor, “not a nasty finisher like Zuttah (Jeremy Zuttah- 3rd Rd pick of the Buccaneers in 2008)”. Haslam, as of this publication, has not received an invitation to the Combine and the quality OT underclassmen declaring for this year’s Draft led by Anthony Davis (Rutgers), Bryan Bulaga (Iowa) and Bruce Campbell (Maryland) could very well push Haslam into the 7th round or priority free agency.