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ICYMI: What we learned about draft prospects this week

  • By Chase Goodbread and Mike Huguenin
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Two quarterbacks commanded most of the attention this week, when Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater performed their respective pro days, but several other non-quarterbacks also grabbed the spotlight. In fact, the biggest development of the week might have been the possibility of Bortles, Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel falling in the draft because of the number of talented position players.

In case you missed it, here are our top 10 takeaways on 2014 draft prospects this week:

1. Bortles a hit on pro day

Everyone in attendance in Orlando, including NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock and a few NFL coaches, were impressed with Bortles, who has been working out under the auspices of NFL QB Jordan Palmer. Mayock said Bortles is "potentially a franchise quarterback," but also that he needs some time to develop.

2. Carr ready to surprise

Carr generally is considered the No. 4 quarterback in the class, but after his strong showing at his pro day, he told reporters, "I think we're going to surprise some people come May 8," presumably by going earlier than expected. Carr, who led the nation in passing yards and TDs in 2013, performed well in his pro day despite spending part of the night before in a hospital with a severe stomach virus.

3. Bridgewater fails to impress

Pro days are set up for quarterbacks to show off their strengths, but observers seemed less-than-impressed with Bridgewater's workout. Mayock said he saw "a lot of flutters, a lot of inaccuracy," and NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner noted that Bridgewater had issues with his weight transfer, which led to the inaccuracy.

4. Warning: Don't overreact to pro days

NFL Media draft analyst Bucky Brooks still thinks Bridgewater is the No. 1 quarterback in the draft, despite his less-than-stellar pro day. Brooks' reasoning, in a nutshell: If you liked Bridgewater before, you're still going to like him, and if you didn't like him, you're still not going to like him. A 30-minute workout wasn't going to lead to any kind of epiphany. Fellow analyst Charles Davis said he had talked to an NFL offensive coordinator who said Bridgewater's issues could be fixed with a couple of days of work.

5. Verrett has shoulder surgery

Normally, a potential first-round pick having shoulder surgery in March would cause some angst, but that's not likely with Verrett. He played for much of the 2013 season with a torn labrum and had a strong combine showing, too. He is expected to be fine by July and should be the third, fourth or fifth corner off the board, and he could go in the first round.

6. Lewan, Hill's legal matters

One NFL draft prospect got some relief regarding his legal woes this week (LSU running back Jeremy Hill), whereas another saw his case move in the wrong direction (Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan). Not that the draft status of either will change much as a result, but Hill had about 16 months of probation left to go until a Baton Rouge (La.) judge cleaned his slate. Lewan, on the other hand, learned that he'll be charged with various misdemeanor assault counts following a brawl he claims to have been trying to break up.

7. Browns to pass on QB?

NFL Network's Charley Casserly suggested that the Cleveland Browns will pass on a quarterback with the No. 4 overall pick, and they can thank Trent Richardson for that flexibility. The trade of Richardson to the Colts netted Cleveland the No. 26 overall pick, which they can use on a quarterback instead. It's an ideal draft to hold off, and perhaps pick up Fresno State's Derek Carr at No. 26. Every quarterback in the draft has a couple of flaws that fall short of franchise-quarterback status. If the Browns don't take one at No. 4, it's fair to assume they agree.

8. Manziel to bust?

ESPN's Merril Hoge made some waves this week in declaring that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has " bust written all over him," in part because Manziel has shown no ability to be patient enough in the pocket to play within the common structure of an NFL offense. But we've also heard from various draft experts that whichever club drafts Manziel will have to be willing to cater (and alter) its offense to suit Manziel. If the opposite happens, and Manziel goes to a club that wants to fundamentally change him as a player, Hoge's assessment could end up being dead-on accurate. But the club that gives Manziel more freedom to do his thing will give him more, not less, of a chance to succeed.

9. Gators DBs endure rainy pro day

Nobody would have dreamed a couple of months ago that Florida Gators cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson might be drafted later than fellow Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins. And they still might well go before him. But the gap between the three has clearly begun to close, in part because Watkins blazed a 4.41 40-yard dash time while his more heralded teammates struggled more in the 4.6s. Not much changed this week when Florida went through its pro day in wet conditions.

10. The shoe fits for McCarron

NFL Media analyst Charles Davis identified the Tennessee Titans as the ideal fit for Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, and Daniel Jeremiah sees him in a Cardinals uniform. For Davis, it's all about getting McCarron around the things that helped his collegiate success: a strong running game and offensive line to make his job easier. The trouble for McCarron is that most of the top rushing teams in the NFL are either invested in a young quarterback or already have a proven veteran. The best rushing club with a true need at quarterback is the Minnesota Vikings, the NFL's No. 8 rushing squad last year.

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