Under the Radar: Prospects Creating a Buzz


Posted Mar 19, 2007


Calvin Johnson, Gaines Adams and Brady Quinn; all top draft prospects who've been grabbing the headlines recently. Yet there are a number of quality prospects who many are not familiar with. Here's a half-dozen that scouts have been buzzing about recently.

Jyles Tucker/DL/Wake Forest

A two-year starter who played out of position at defensive tackle for Wake Forest, NFL scouts liken Tucker's ability to Dallas Cowboy defender Demarcus Ware.  Tucker totaled 35-tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks as a senior and many in the scouting community were surprised he was not invited to last month's combine.  Measuring in at 6-feet-3-inches, 268-pounds, Tucker is expected to run near the 4.7-second mark at his pro-day, which is today, March 19th.  The New York Jets have been very hot on his trail and project Tucker as a rush linebacker for their 34 alignment.

Jacob Bender/OT/Nicholls State

It still amazes us Bender has flown below the radar screen.  A three-year starter at left tackle twice named as an All Conference selection, Bender moves like a power-forward on the football field.  At 6-feet-6-inches and 317 pounds, more than a dozen NFL teams went to view his pro-day this weekend.  Bender did not disappoint running a 5.03-forty, 4.47 short shuttle, completing 27 repetitions on the bench then turning in a 30-inch vertical jump.  And while teams presently project Bender as a left-tackle, his size coupled with growth potential make a move to the strong-side a possibility.  The New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets have all set up one-on-one interviews with the athletic blocker.

Calvin Bannister/CB/Hampton

While Travarous Bain is the better known cornerback from Hampton, there are many who feel Bannister is the better football player.  During his pro-day last week he measured in at 5-feet-7.5-inches and 182 pounds then proceeded to run in the high 4.3's in the forty and post a 39.5-inch vertical jump.  While some are concerned about his height, many favorably compare Bannister to the undersized but productive Jason David, now playing for the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts.

Courtney Brown/CB/Cal-Poly

Brown has garnered a lot of interest since participating at San Jose State's pro-day just a few weeks ago.  Measuring just over 6-feet-1-inch and 196-pounds, Brown twice broke the 4.4-second barrier when he ran for scouts.  Ironically, the reason why he was not invited to the combine was the "lack of speed" according to officials.  Brown is set to workout again on March 29th at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.  At this stage he has additional workouts set-up with the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets and will be visiting the Seattle Seahawks.

Brent Celek/TE/Cincinnati

Always considered a solid pass catching tight end, more production was expected from Celek last year.  His 35-receptions were only three better than what he produced as a junior.  Since the season ended Celek has worked with former NFL passer Steve DeBerg on improving his play-making skills.  Considered a "move" tight end, he is expected to run under 4.7-seconds during  workouts.  The Jets along with the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears are planning upcoming workouts for Celek.

Justise Hairston/RB/Central Connecticut

The former Rutgers ball carrier has garnered a lot of interest recently. Hairston rushed for 1,874-yards and twenty scores last season.  He is being looked at as a complimentary ball carrier by most teams.  The New York Giants  individually worked him out today while the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers will be visiting with Hairston next week.



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