Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rutgers Pro Day: Searching For First No. 1

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – With 41 scouts from 27 NFL teams in attendance for the Rutgers Pro Combine held Monday, most of the buzz was surrounding junior wide-receiver Kenny Britt and his chances of being the first Scarlet Knight ever selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

“I think he’s right on the cusp,” draft expert Mike Mayock of the NFL Network said. “I was just talking with a couple of scouts about that… I think the Giants at 29 are an interesting pick. I think when you start getting in-and-around anywhere from pick 25-to-40; you know right on the cusp of the first round is where I’ve heard most of the scouts talking about. From watching tape I think that is where he belongs.

“He’s down plus-or-minus ten or twelve pounds from the combine, he’s cut-up, he looks great. I thought he ran solid routes. His 40, I had him at 4.43 and 4.45 on my watch, so his 40 is down a little bit. But more importantly the tape I watched this year I thought his hands were a little inconsistent early in the year, but I thought he caught the ball real well at the end of the year. What I wanted to see was how natural he catches the football in person. He had one drop (today) on a real-difficult pass and everything else I thought he handled real well.”

Britt looked crisp in his route running and didn’t even tire as he and his fellow receivers caught nearly 70 passes from fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Teel.

“I am trying to improve my status every day, just working-out hard trying to improve,” Britt said “I feel I ran real well in my 40. I just want to prove what I can do.”

When asked about all the first round hype Britt said he wasn’t concerned.

“Truthfully, I don’t even think about it at all,” he said “I am just trying to work out and get better.”

When asked what teams had shown interest Britt wouldn’t get into specifics: “Nobody has been calling me; I give all the calls to my agent… He said a few people have been calling from around here–especially the tri-state area. I do have a few team-workouts this week.”

Mayock also offered his thoughts on Teel, and his chances of making an NFL roster.

“He’s the kind of kid that’s going to be in an NFL camp,” Mayock said. “I think he’s the kind of kid that’ll work his tail off and will show enough to get an opportunity, and that’s the key in the NFL at the quarterback position, to show enough–especially with minimal reps. If he is smart enough to handle it with minimal reps–and I think he is–he’s got a chance to stick and develop.”

Teel mentioned the Jets and Bears as teams that have expressed interest in his services.

But the day wasn’t all about speculation and opinions, the players went through the normal series of drills, highlighted by the always anticipated 40-yard dash. The best time of the day was recorded by senior cornerback Jason McCourty with a 4.32. Senior wide receiver Tiquan Underwood finished strong with a 4.34, while Britt’s best clocked-in at 4.40. Two of the more impressive times came from the defensive side as senior linebacker Kevin Malast clocked-in at 4.60 and fellow senior defensive end Jamal Westerman put up a 4.78.

Even though Rutgers has never produced a player who was chosen in the first round, the program is on-the-rise, and this was none more evident than by the number of scouts and media on-hand.

“You start looking around this program, and this is a pretty-impressive stop,” Mayock said. “One thing I heard from three or four guys today is when you look at the kids–all the kids, not just the big names–you don’t see sloppy kids here. They’re all in shape. I think what it tells me is–I look at the height, weight, verticals, broad jump, all that kind of stuff, it matches-up with all the big-time programs. I was at LSU, Georgia and Florida last week, and they match-up. The Percy Harvins’ of the world are a different animal, but this program matches-up.”

Photo Credit: College Press Box (Rutgers)