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Tebow's workout likely won't have any impact on draft status

Scouts are traveling to pro days all over the country trying to gather the latest information on the draft's top prospects.

Although 90 percent of the evaluation process is complete, a breakthrough at a workout, or a surprising discovery of some background information, is enough to send a prospect's stock up or down the draft board.

With a few top picks slated to hold their respective pro days this week, let's take a look at five questions that are burning up war rooms.

Top 25 draft prospects

While Tim Tebow is not one of Bucky Brooks' top prospects, fellow quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen are among the best 25 heading into April's draft. **More ...**

1. Will Tebow's revamped mechanics improve his status?

Tim Tebow's well-publicized makeover has created quite a stir in the scouting community, but will do little to impact his draft status across the league. Teams that were fond of Tebow prior to the change will remain enamored with him due to his extraordinary intangibles and leadership skills. On the other hand, teams that regard the former Heisman Trophy winner lightly will continue to have issues with his skills as a passer.

Although Tebow's decision to retool his throwing motion is commendable, it is unlikely that the transformation will be sustainable over the long haul. He enjoyed a stellar collegiate career playing the game with unconventional mechanics, and it will be hard for him to avoid reverting back to those old habits once he returns to game action.

At his best, Tebow is a dual-threat quarterback, excelling at making plays outside of the pocket in the Gators' spread offense. While he has occasionally made some throws to spark the team to victory in key moments, his strengths lie in his improvisational skills, toughness and competitiveness.

Though his passing skills were in obvious need of repair after watching him struggle during practices at the Senior Bowl, coaches and scouts who liked what they saw from Tebow throughout the course of his career will remain undaunted by his flaws. In their minds, he is the ultimate winner, who will find a way to have success in spite of his weaknesses.

It remains to be seen what kind of round value results from that assessment. Rest assured that Tebow's upcoming workout on Wednesday, during which he will unveil a new release, will have little impact on his draft status.

2. Should the Lions draft Okung?

Much of the Detroit Lions' pre-draft speculation has focused on the team taking a defensive tackle at No. 2 to improve their woeful defense, but there is a growing belief that the team should draft offensive tackle Russell Okung with the second overall pick.

The Lions drafted Matthew Stafford to serve as their franchise quarterback a season ago, but the team has failed to land an all-star caliber pass blocker to protect their investment.

Okung, who has been rated as the top offensive line prospect since the beginning of the season, would give the team an experienced rookie (47 collegiate starts) to plug into the lineup at left tackle. Okung's presence would allow the Lions to slide Jeff Backus inside to guard, and fortify the unit of blockers in front of Stafford.

While the argument will be waged that the Lions should pluck Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy at the No. 2 spot based on their needs, the drop-off at offensive tackle is significant from round-to-round and the team would be unable to land a legitimate starter in the second round.

On the other hand, the draft is loaded with defensive tackles in the early rounds, and the team could likely land a potential starter in the second or third round.

In addition, a look at the defensive tackles taken within the top 10 picks in the past 10 years has done little to affirm Suh or McCoy as "safe" picks in the minds of many.

Notable busts such as Glenn Dorsey, Dewayne Robertson, Jonathan Sullivan and Ryan Sims were taken at the top of the draft, and their failures illustrate the difficulty in finding a stud defensive tackle with an early pick.

Meanwhile, the top of the draft has yielded Pro Bowlers such as Bryant McKinnie, Joe Thomas, Jordan Gross and D'Brickashaw Ferguson at offensive tackle. While there have been some flameouts at the position (Mike Williams and Robert Gallery), the probability of finding an all star-caliber offensive tackle is much greater than at defensive tackle.

The Lions' brass has engineered a series of moves this offseason to put the team back on the road to respectability, but a possible decision to select Okung at No. 2 could key their long-term success.

3. Which position's value will rise as a result of free agency?

The defensive tackle position is undoubtedly the biggest beneficiary from the free-agency period. Nose tackles, in particular, have seen their value rise on several draft boards due to the lack of quality players available at the position.

Four nose tackles were franchised or received lucrative contracts (the Patriots' Vince Wilfork, Steelers' Casey Hampton, Packers' Ryan Pickett and 49ers' Aubreyo Franklin) during the early stages of free agency, and their absence on the open market has led many teams to look to the draft to fill needs. Coincidentally, the four recipients are nose tackles in 3-4 schemes, which require sturdy players to play on the point of attack.

These "power pigs" often occupy double teams at the line of scrimmage to free up linebackers to roam freely to the ball. Their ability to stand their ground is pivotal to the defense, and is a major reason that finding a quality nose tackle is paramount to the success of 3-4 teams.

With that in mind, stout nose tackles like Alabama's Terrence Cody and North Carolina's Cam Thomas are rising up draft boards across the league due to their potential as 3-4 nose tackles. Additionally, Tennessee's Dan Williams and Texas' Lamarr Houston are also being considered as possible nose tackle candidates due to their size and strength.

The nose tackle spot may never be popular due to the requirements of the position, but the position is suddenly becoming a hot commodity due to the lack of quality players available on the market.

4. Why is Mathews shooting up draft boards?

Fresno State's Ryan Mathews has staked his claim as the No. 2 running back on most boards after an impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. At 6-foot, 218 pounds, Mathews clocked a 4.45 time in the 40-yard dash and looked fluid going through the positional work.

His exceptional workout in shorts only confirmed the immense talent that Mathews displays on tape. Mathews scored 19 touchdowns last season and he ranked second nationally with 1,808 rushing yards (behind Toby Gerhart's 1,871 yards). Mathews topped the 100-yard mark in 11 of 12 games, and finished his three-year career with 39 touchdowns.

Although the biggest knock against Mathews has been his durability (he missed eight games in his career due to an assortment of injuries), a few running back coaches dismissed his injury history due to his transition from a high school quarterback to primary ball carrier. As they explained to me, it takes awhile for a former quarterback to adjust to the rigors of running the ball on a full-time basis.

They also pointed to Mathews' hefty workload last season (276 carries; eight games with 20 or more rushing attempts) as proof of his toughness as a runner.

Given his exceptional combination of size, speed and running skill, it is not surprising that teams are slowly falling in love with Mathews.

![](**Draft goes primetime:**
The NFL Draft moves to primetime for the first time in 2010, with the first round taking place Thurs., April 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

5. Do Gresham and Gronkowski rate as top tight ends?

Jermaine Gresham and Rob Gronkowski entered the 2009 college season rated as the top players at the position, but neither played a single down last year. In spite of their season-long absence, they retain their lofty status in the minds of evaluators due to their outstanding measurables and potential.

Gresham, who amassed 66 receptions for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2008, sat out the season with a torn ACL. When healthy, he has shown outstanding promise as a pass-catching threat, and is a dynamic player with the ball in his hands. Gresham routinely runs away from defenders in space, and plays much faster than his pedestrian 40 time suggests. In addition, he is an outstanding athlete who creates mismatches in the red zone.

Gronkowski tallied 47 receptions for 672 yards and 10 scores in 2008, but missed last season due to a back injury. As a prototypical tight end with an excellent combination of size and athleticism, he possesses all of the tools to be a difference-maker on the next level. He is a natural pass catcher with exceptional hands and ball skills. Although Gronkowski is not considered a blazer, he shows enough speed to get down the seam on deep routes.

In addition to his receiving prowess, Gronkowski's superior skill as a blocker sets him apart from others at the position. He is one of the few tight ends capable of getting dirty on the edge, and that trait gives him a chance to retain his spot at the top of the board, if healthy.

The tight end position is brimming with talent, but Gresham and Gronkowski have retained their spots at the top of the charts due to their special skills and boundless potential. The doctors will ultimately have the final say on whether they remain at the head of the class, but right now they are still good bets to hear their names called early on draft day.

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