In what was possibly one of the biggest pro days in the 2011 NFL Draft, NFL personnel and tons of media gathered at The University of North Carolina today. Several players were participating today but the big names were defensive end Robert Quinn, defensive tackle Marvin Austin, wide receiver Greg Little, cornerback Kendric Burney, linebacker Quan Sturdivant and quarterback TJ Yates. Amidst the action were several high profile faces: Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Marinelli, Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, Cincinnati Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes, Cleveland Browns linebackers coach Bill Davis and New York Giants linebackers coach Jim Herrmann. Teams that I saw represented at the workout were: Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.
First up were the timed events. Marvin Austin decided to stand on his numbers from the combine and did not run. However, Kendric Burney, Greg Little, Robert Quinn and Quan Sturdivant all ran. Robert Quinn seemed to have helped himself the most in the 40 yard dash. After running a 4.70 at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, I had Quinn timed today at 4.59 and 4.56 (unofficially). The general consensus among scouts and media in attendance was that Quinn ran in the high 4.5s, which is still a vast improvement over his Combine time.
Quinn’s improvement had nothing to do with the field surface at UNC. I timed Kendric Burney at 4.75 and 4.71, which matches up to his 4.75 time at the NFL Scouting Combine. I also timed Greg Little at 4.50 and 4.49, and Quan Sturdivant at 4.66 and 4.72 (all times unofficial).
Quinn took advantage of having the full attention of scouts and the media by participating in every drill. Though he had some trouble with his 3-cone drill footing, he eventually got it down.
After the timed events, TJ Yates led the offensive skill position players through a scripted workout. While this workout may have been scripted by the coaches, I’m not quite sure if TJ Yates was aware of just how many passes he’d be throwing. Yates threw over 100 passes, most of which were actually on the mark. The offensive drills were also very, very fast paced and Yates handled the tempo well, stayed on target and appeared to be in good physical condition.
Greg Little was very impressive during the offensive drills. He displayed excellent body control while reaching/leaping for passes, especially on the sideline where he showed the focus to tap his toes before going out of bounds. Little appeared very fluid while running and his routes were crisp. I did not observe Little drop a single ball. The only pass to him that wasn’t connected was an overthrow from Yates on a deep route.
Defensive line drills were next and this was clearly the main attraction of the day. The only players that participated in these drills were Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin and they did not disappoint. Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli took Quinn and Austin through a series of drills, testing their ability to fire off the ball and then quickly change directions. The drills then shifted to pass rush drills where Quinn and Austin had to display their hand quickness and strength. Quinn’s hands can only be described as strong and active, which is rare for young pass rushers. Austin doesn’t have the same hand quickness but strikes the bag with authority before starting his rips. Bengals defensive line coach Jay Yates also ran Quinn and Austin through part of the drills while Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer watched intently.
As the drills went on, Austin did appear to slow down, possibly a sign that his conditioning is still not quite where he’d like it to be. Overall, Austin had a very nice day and continues to help his stock rise going into the final weeks before the draft.
After a short break, Quinn actually took the opportunity to compete in the linebacker drills alongside teammate Quan Sturdivant. The linebacker drills were led by Browns linebackers coach Bill Davis and Giants linebackers coach Jim Herrmann. Sturdivant appeared fatigued by the time he started the drills and was unable to finish due to a tweaked hamstring. Quinn did a nice job during the drills but doesn’t appear fully comfortable flipping his hips. Coaches also had to explain the drills several times to Quinn, indicating that he hasn’t focused on this aspect of his game during his workouts. Quinn was a trooper, though, and did everything the coaches asked him to do, clearly having the longest and most strenuous workout of the day.
Afterwards, I had a chance to speak with one of the most talented players on the North Carolina roster, linebacker Bruce Carter. Carter is recovering from a knee injury and was unable to participate. However, Carter told me that he is now running and has interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions.
Overall, Quinn definitely helped himself the most today and should have solidified himself as a top 10 pick. Austin, Little and Yates also helped themselves today with strong performances. Be sure to check back soon for video from today’s workout in Chapel Hill.
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