- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- As if one pro day wasn’t enough, the University of Alabama is going for No. 2. On Thursday morning, Trent Richardson, Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron will work out for NFL personnel in an attempt to improve, or in the case of Richardson, maintain their draft stock.
NFL general managers and scouts will keep a close eye on how Barron and Richardson have recovered from surgeries that have limited their post-college workouts. Barron missed the NFL scouting combine while recovering from a double hernia injury. Richardson made the trip to Indianapolis for the combine, but did not work out, attempting to get back to 100 percent following a knee surgery after the season.
Upshaw will have some work to do in his workouts. The 6-foot-2, 265-pound linebacker experienced a slight dip in interest following a less-than-stellar showing at the NFL combine, where he did not participate in the 40-yard dash. Upshaw’s game film sells a first-round grade, but if he can show the scouts and general managers he can deliver those coveted measurables on Thursday, it could go a long way in solidifying a first-round grade and potentially slide him up in the draft. Upshaw told TideNation on Wednesday that he will participate in every drill but the bench press.
The player with arguably the most to lose is Richardson. Interest in the Heisman Trophy finalist has held steady since he announced his intention to turn pro. The Florida native is viewed as the top running back in the draft, but where he goes in the first round is in question. In recent years, running backs have been devalued, selected lower in the first round as questions of durability haunt the position and the emergence of two-back systems have become the norm in the league.
Richardson’s former teammate, Mark Ingram, was selected No. 28 overall in last year’s draft. No running back has been taken higher than No. 9 in the past three drafts. From 2005-08, five running backs were taken in the top five picks.
Barron’s standing in the draft shouldn’t nosedive even if he turns in an underwhelming performance on the Tuscaloosa campus. Recovering from a double hernia surgery is a process that takes time, and scouts are going to lean more on Barron’s game film than anything else. The Mobile, Ala., native will be fighting the trend if he does go in the first round as ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projects. Only three safeties have been selected in the first round in the past four years, one being the final pick in the first round in 2008.
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