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WR Williams facing many obstacles

4/6/2010

Former Syracuse WR Mike Williams worked out in front of NFL scouts recently and had a very average day.

Williams did not work out at the Syracuse pro day after leaving the team early in the 2009 season, but he did catch the ball well during his workout and his change of direction skills looked good, though he could have made crisper cuts. He also ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.55-second range, right where he was at the NFL combine.

However, now that the bulk of the draft process is complete, it is becoming clear that Williams has not handled things well. There are significant concerns stemming from academic issues and suspensions at Syracuse, and from his quitting the team in the face of another impending suspension.

Williams is not handling questions about his departure from the program well, and after he weighed in at 222 pounds during his workout -- he is listed at 204 on the Syracuse roster -- questions about his work ethic could be surfacing. Don't forget, he has not played much football over the last two seasons and you have to wonder what kind of shape he is in.

Williams is a first-round talent on film but given all the issues he is facing, teams have to wonder if they will be getting the same player they see on film, whether he will be a distraction in the locker room and if he can be counted on to hang in when the going gets tough on or off the field.

Had he shown up at the combine and run in the 4.4s and expressed regret in his interviews, things might be looking a little better, but the bottom line is Williams did not make it work at Syracuse and there are simply too many red flags for him to come off the board before the third round.

Alualu on the rise

California DT Tyson Alualu moved around in the Golden Bears' defensive scheme, lining up as a 5-technique in 3-4 fronts and at 3-technique in 4-3 fronts, but because he does not have ideal height, we project him to fit best as a 3-technique.

What jumps out most on film is how well Alualu uses his hands. He uses slaps and other moves to make it difficult for offensive linemen to lock onto his frame, and even if they do, Alualu has the heavy, powerful hands to knock blockers off his frame. He can stack and shed quickly and is relentless working into the backfield.

Alualu gets an early-second-round grade at this point. He has above-average strength and should contribute early in his career, eventually developing into an effective starter in a one-gap scheme.

Character issues for OT Washington, too

Much has been made of the fact that Abilene Christian OT Tony Washington is a registered sex offender after an incident that occurred when he was in high school, but even without that hanging over his head, Washington is very much a project who grades out in the fourth round.

Washington faced a lower level of competition in college and got away with a lot of flaws in his technique. In particular, he did not do a good job of getting set in pass protection. On film he seems to almost backpedal into the quarterback in pass pro, and as a run-blocker he needs to do a better job of sinking his hips and driving his legs.

Overall, he has a lot of upside, but Washington is very much a buyer-beware prospect.

G Asamoah moving up boards

Illinois G Jon Asamoah has flown under the radar a bit because of a shoulder injury that kept him out for most of Senior Bowl week, but after more film study we now rate Asamoah as the No. 2 guard on the board behind Idaho's Mike Iupati.

Asamoah is right behind Iupati in terms of power at the point of attack, and Asamoah gets an excellent initial fit and drives defenders off the ball once he gets into position. There is also a lot to like about how nasty Asamoah is. He is always looking for someone to hit and plays through the whistle, and in addition he is athletic enough to hold up in pass protection and does a good job getting into position at the second level.

Asamoah has moved into the mid-to-late second round area and we expect him to become a starter early in his career.

OT Brown a safe pick

USC OT Charles Brown is what we like to call a "Steady Eddie" prospect. Brown is not the most graceful pass blocker or an overwhelming drive blocker but he always finds a way to get the job done.

He was a little more mechanical than we expected on film but Brown's footwork is excellent. He does a good job getting width with his kick step and shuffles well to the outside, and Brown also shows the good balance to redirect inside.

Brown might never become a great drive blocker, but he is already an effective zone blocker who can seal the edge and get up to the second level. Based on our additional film study we would be very comfortable taking Brown in the second round. He is a safe pick there, and while Maryland OT Bruce Campbell has more upside based on his outstanding physical tools and will likely come off the board first, Campbell faces durability issues and concerns about his experience and Brown could end up being the better pick in the long run given his consistency.