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Insider

Bryant looks athletic but raw

3/30/2010

LUFKIN, Texas -- The pro day workout of Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant took place at Abe Martin Stadium here in Lufkin, hosted by Bryant's high school coach John Outlaw and attended by the likes of Seattle coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, Packers coach Mike McCarthy and college scouting director John Dorsey, San Diego senior executive Randy Mueller, Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert, San Francisco coach Mike Singletary, Baltimore receivers coach John Hostler, a group from Oakland and at least one representative from 10 other teams.

The warm, sunny day was a perfect setting to show his wares, and on the positive side Bryant is in ridiculous shape and checked in at a shredded 6-foot-1.5 and 224 pounds. He missed the majority of the 2009 season after being suspended for lying to NCAA investigators looking into his relationship with former NFL star Deion Sanders but Bryant has kept himself in peak physical condition and didn't slow down during drills.

He showed off his explosiveness with a 38-inch vertical jump and an 11-foot-1 broad jump, and his hands were on display when he made a couple of big-time catches during pass-catching drills.

NFL teams will leave lufkin with a 40-yard dash time somewhere in the mid 4.5-second range. I clocked him at 4.52 on his first attempt (with the wind) and 4.59 on his second (against wind). Bryant was asked to run a third time because of the discrepancy and I clocked that attempt (with the wind) at 4.50. The times are about what we expected, although a few team reps expressed some frustration with the erratic results that stemmed from Bryant's inconsistent starting technique and handheld stopwatches on a somewhat windy day.

His 225-pound bench press (14 repetitions) and three-cone drill (6.94 seconds) were also about what scouts expected, but Bryant's problems began during agility drills. He struggled with the short shuttle, almost as if he had never attempted one before, and needed four tries before completing the drill and recording a 4.46.

You have to like the determination he showed in finally getting it right but the fact that he quit on his fifth attempt is somewhat telling for a guy who carries some character baggage. Bryant did revisit the short shuttle after running routes and posted a final time in the 4.42 range, but one NFL personnel man in attendance told me Bryant's frustration and reaction to the adversity will definitely be taken into consideration.

During his pass-catching session Bryant ran routes of every variety and looked a bit raw, even struggling with his footing on comeback routes, though he did drop his weight well getting into and out of breaks and gave good effort even as he tired near the end of the workout.

In the end Bryant did nothing to hurt his standing as the top wide receiver on the board. No one was blown away by his showing but he is a little bigger and faster than No. 3 WR Arrelious Benn (No. 2 receiver Demaryius Thomas is is injured and has no results for comparison) and Bryant has top-five physical talent. Bryant's stock will hold steady after this workout, and the question for NFL teams now becomes how high they are willing to take a prospect with some off-the-field issues.

Talent evaluators have to decide what kind of financial risk they are willing to make when taking on a player who is competitive and athletic but sometimes loses focus. However, enough teams seem to think Bryant is not a bad guy but simply the product of a tough life, and that with the right veteran leadership he could thrive the way Randy Moss did under the tutelage of Chris Carter in Minnesota.

Jacksonville might be a bit of a reach at No. 10 overall and it's doubtful the Broncos are willing to bring in another potential problem child at wide receiver with the No. 11 pick. Bryant is probably too rich for Miami at No. 12, but Seattle is a possibility at No. 14 given the sizable contingent the Seahawks sent to Lufkin.

Cincinnati picks at No. 21 and we all know the Bengals have no qualms about taking on players with character issues, so that looks like the floor for Bryant at this point. It will be interesting to see whether a team picking somewhere between Nos. 13 and 20 decides to snatch him up based on the value he would offer in that area, even if receiver is not a primary need.

No matter where he is taken Bryant has the potential to be an impact player because when he is focused on football he is the real deal and as good as it gets.

Other workouts

The pro day workouts of Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford and his teammates took center stage as the week began, but plenty of other prospects are showing off for NFL scouts and here's a look at some noteworthy results from the past few days:

Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski (6-62, 258) -- Gronkowski ran the 40-yard dash in the high 4.6-second range and posted a vertical jump of 33.4 inches at his pro day over the weekend. He did drop a couple of passes but also showed he can snatch the ball out of the air with his massive (10.6 inches) hands and showed he has the athletic ability to develop into a fluid route runner.

Gronkowski now looks to be in a dead heat with Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham -- who caught the ball well and cut sharply when running routes during Bradford's workout -- for the top spot among tight ends. Both are underclassmen who face durability questions after each missed the entire 2009 season, but based on their athleticism we expect one to come off the board in the first round and the other to last only a short time in the second round.

Northwestern DE Corey Wooton (6-6, 270) -- His 40 time in the mid-4.9s is not great, but Wooton's best fit is at defensive end in a base 3-4 scheme and he doesn't need great speed to develop into a starting 5-technique lineman in that front. He also has the frame and long arms (34.6 inches) to eventually excel in a two-gap scheme and could come off the board late in the second round, but Wooton is most likely a third-round pick.

Northwestern CB Sherrick McManis -- McManis did not work out because of a quadriceps injury, the same injury that cost him three games in 2009, and he did not take part in the combine because of hamstring and pectoral injuries. Durability has been an issue for McManis throughout his career and he has gone from a potential sixth-round pick to a seventh-rounder or rookie free agent.