While the evaluation of game film is still by far and away the most important aspect of scouting, NFL teams send coaches and scouts across the country to work out prospects to fill in the last piece of the scouting puzzle.
Here's a preview into Wednesday's pro day sessions at USC, LSU and South Carolina (focusing solely on running back Marcus Lattimore).
USC: QB Matt Barkley and WR Robert Woods
Nearly all the other big name quarterbacks have already thrown for scouts, so this is the chance for Barkley to make a statement that he should be the first one picked. The biggest concerns surrounding Barkley are his arm strength and athleticism, so he needs to prove he has the arm to make all the NFL throws and the foot quickness to move/slide effectively within the pocket. If he does these things, then because he was so outstanding in his NFL scouting combine interviews he will likely be the first quarterback drafted.
Catching many of Barkley's passes will be Woods, who is trying to convince teams he has the explosiveness and top-end speed to warrant a first-round selection. A fundamentally sound receiver who runs great routes and has rare hands, NFL teams are concerned that Woods lacks the burst out of his cuts to get separation consistently and the speed to stretch the field deep. While a strong day will not assure Woods of jumping over other receivers to be a first-round pick, it could lock up a spot in the second round.
LSU: OLB Barkevious Mingo, DE Sam Montgomery, DT Bennie Logan, FS Eric Reid, CB Tharold Simon, OT Chris Faulk and MLB Kevin Minter
There are too many LSU prospects that will be working out to break them all down, but there are some key ones who need big performances. Mingo is going to be a first-round pick, but with so many elite pass rushers in this year's draft, he is not assured of being a top 15 pick. If he shows good strength and hand use in drills, he could end up in the mix to be a top five or six pick.
Unlike Mingo, Montgomery is viewed more likely as a second-round pick because of questions about his explosiveness and all-around athleticism. He needs to prove to teams that he has the quickness to be an effective edge pass rusher and the flexibility and athleticism to be effective playing off the ball as a 3-4 OLB.
When Logan declared for the draft, many observers expected he would be a high-draft pick, but teams have not been impressed with his play on film. He is viewed as more of a third- or fourth-rounder. He needs to step up and have a great workout to overcome concerns that he lacks the high-end athleticism to be an impact starter in the NFL. If he does not have a good workout, do not be shocked if he slides to the third day of the draft.
Simon is not the elite prospect that recent LSU corners Morris Claiborne and Patrick Peterson were coming out of school. He is, however, viewed by many as a very intriguing prospect because of his height, long arms (6-foot-3), good athleticism and natural coverage/ball skills. A number of scouts feel he can be a high-end starter like Brandon Browner. If he works out well, he could end up being a second- or third-round pick.
Viewed as an elite OT prospect with great potential entering the 2012 season, Faulk was injured in LSU's season-opening game against North Texas and therefore was expected to return to LSU for the 2013 season. He surprised many when he choose to come out early for the draft anyway and must prove during this workout that he is close to 100 percent and will be able to get back to his pre-injury form. If he works out well and proves he is healthy, then he could end up being as high as a second round pick.
With Alec Ogletree and Manti Te'o getting all the publicity this spring, Minter has slid under the radar, but this workout could really help his draft status. Viewed now as a short linebacker who lacks elite athleticism, Minter needs to prove to teams that he has the quickness, burst and speed to be effective chasing down plays in pursuit and to be a three-down linebacker to assure himself of being picked in the first two rounds.
South Carolina: RB Marcus Lattimore
After suffering what seemed to be a gruesome knee injury during the 2012 season, many expected Lattimore to return to South Carolina to get healthy and prove himself in 2013. However, after choosing to leave school early, NFL teams are eager to see how he has progressed and if he is going to eventually get back to his pre-injury form. While I do not feel he warrants being a first- or second-round pick, if he is able to work out and does so very well some team will likely use a top 50 pick to select him.
This story originally appeared on Nationalfootballpost.com
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