With the NFL’s draft combine getting started this week in Indianapolis, I spoke with draft analyst Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com about the prospects of a few notable local players, including N.C. State’s Mike Glennon and David Amerson, North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard and Duke’s Sean Renfree.
Brugler also mentioned Wolfpack safety Earl Wolff as one of the players who had impressed him the most leading up to the combine.
On N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon, a potential first-round pick: “He has the size, he has the arm strength. In terms of raw tools, he has a lot of those. There are a lot of questions about his maneuverability in the pocket and his decision-making, his ability to pull the trigger when he sees it, to trust what he sees. Passing instincts are not really something you can develop over time.
“I think a team will see that. I don’t think all 32 teams will see that. More than a few will see that. I think with Glennon it comes down to, where does a team feel comfortable taking him? Will we see him in the first round? Will teams feel comfortable taking him that early?
On the damage N.C. State cornerback David Amerson did to his draft stock with his subpar season: “Talk about a ball-hawking defensive back. He’s not afraid to take chances. He’s a confident kid who looks for the ball. He keeps an eye on the pocket as well as his man, trying to make a play. You have to question not only his instincts but what he’s thinking. Is he too concerned with trying to make a big play? Is he anticipating the route? What’s going on between the ears?
“He doesn’t have lightning speed. That’s not his game. He’s not a track guy, but he’s fast enough at 4.5 (for 40 yards) or so. He needs to improve from an awareness standpoint, not be so consumed with the big play, play it more safe, more smart. For some teams, he’s a safety. For others, they may start him at corner with the idea of moving him to safety if it doesn’t work out.
“We really started to break down his game last year. His sophomore year, we didn’t go too in-depth into his game. This year, knowing he might come out, we watched more closely. Watching that Miami game, that was really a poor performance for him. When scouts go back, if I’m interviewing Amerson, I’d want to sit him in front of a TV with the Miami game on and go over everything with him -- ‘Why this? Why this?’ I’d be really interested in what he was thinking.”
On North Carolina running back Gio Bernard: “The lack of power and lack of durability are kind of a red flag. He reminds me a lot of a poor man’s Trent Richardson. He doesn’t have nearly the power or the physical aspect as Richardson, but he has the same type of elusive moves, a shorter back like that. He lacks top-end speed but accelerates well. he’s effective in the screen game and he turns upfield quickly. Obviously, he’s a dangerous return man.
“He runs so balanced and shifty, he’s not easy to bring down. He’s not powerful or durable, but in today’s NFL he will not be expected to be a feature back. He’ll go to team that has a back, so he’ll be asked to have double-digit carries, not 25 a game. Durability is a weakness. That’s an easy cliché for running backs, but he always seemed constantly dinged up, coming off the field or missing games. The talent is there. You just kind of worry about durability.”
On the local player who has done the most to move up his draft board: “I like the safety out of N.C. State, Earl Wolff, quite a bit. He’s a good athlete. I liked him on tape, but he really impressed me in Tampa at the East-West Shrine Game. He kept making plays. You know a player’s doing well when all you hear is coaches screaming ‘Wolff!’ but in a good way. I kept watching him throughout practice throughout the week and he helped himself down there. Earl Wolff could maybe move into that mid-round area.”
On Duke quarterback Sean Renfree, who tore his pectoral muscle on the final play of his college career: “Prior to the injury Renfree was certainly a draftable quarterback, somewhere on that third day, rounds 4-7. There’s a lot to like about him, a traditional dropback passer who looks part with a big frame. He’s smart, cerebral, worked through progressions well. He finds the open target and he’s shown leadership on the field. …
“There are a lot of tools to work with, but a lot of concerns. He needs to better develop his touch and do a better job controlling ball speed. That may be his biggest weakness. He needs to develop his sense of anticipation. Too many times, he was late to the target, allowing defenders to recover. I’m also worried about his on-field demeanor. At times he had too much of that deer-in-headlights look. Sometimes he was able to shake it off and make big plays, sometimes he wasn’t.
“It’s almost tragic the way the injury happened, on the final play of his college career, on the last play in a bowl game. It’s too bad it happened that way. He missed a chance to play in the East-West Shrine Game in Tampa and he won’t get a chance to perform at the combine. Where he will have a chance to shine is the interview room, with coaches and scouts at the whiteboard. Can he impress scouts with his Xs and Os and knowledge of the game?
“There’s a good chance he’s back in that late-round discussion as a developmental quarterback as long as he impresses between the ears. Quarterbacking in the NFL, so much of it is from the shoulders up -- can you process information quickly? Teams know what he brings to table in terms of arm strength and size. It’s too bad he can’t work out before the draft. It’s not totally a killer, but his medicals at the combine will be important, to see where he is in his recovery.”