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Pitt at the NFL Combine: Some guys made themselves some money

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While en route to looking up something else, I came across another in a long line of mock drafts where NFL writers and bloggers try to predict what NFL executives and coaches are thinking.
These things appear almost from the day the NFL draft ends to the moment before the Cleveland Browns make the first pick the following year (most years, right?). Each mock is different than the next.
This one, authored by Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (follow him at @NFLdraftscout), carries significance to me, even though almost two months remain before the big three-day party April 27-29.
Miller writes about the top prospects and predicts all seven rounds, based on workouts at the recently concluded NFL Combine.
I looked up the five Pitt players Miller believes will get drafted. All of them opened some eyes at the Combine. He left tight end Scott Orndoff undrafted, a mistake I’ll address later.
1. Miller predicts quarterback Nathan Peterman will be the first pick of the third round (No. 65) by the Browns, one spot before the 49ers take Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya.
Peterman, 6-2, 226, ran a 4.82 40 at the Combine with a 31-inch vertical leap. North Carolina’s Mitchell (Don’t Call Me Mitch) Trubisky , considered a first-round pick (No. 3 to the Bears), ran faster (4.67) and is 4 pounds lighter on the same-size 6-2 frame. Peterman had a better vertical leap by 3 1/2 inches.
Here is some of what an anonymous NFC director of personnel said about Peterman on NFL.com: “I like him. He made me a believer when I watched him against Clemson. … has to prove he has enough arm to challenge the same tight windows he did in college.”
2. Next among Pitt players on Miller’s list is guard Dorian Johnson , 98th to the Carolina Panthers in the third round. Johnson, 6-5, 300, ran a 5.27 and pushed up 225 pounds 21 times on the bench press. An unidentified NFC South scout, quoted on NFL.com, described Johnson as a “10-year starter.”
Unless I’m missing someone, Johnson will become the first Belle Vernon graduate to play in the NFL since former Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph. Belle Vernon fans, help me out.
3. Pitt offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty ran a 5.23 with 23 bench presses. Miller projects Bisnowaty, 6-6, 304, going to the Cardinals in the fourth round (120).
Here’s what NFL.com wrote about Bisnowaty: “In a phone booth, Bisnowaty can handle himself with pure brawn and power, but once he’s forced to play in space, his athletic limitations become more pronounced.”
Just to compare: Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles (first round, No. 20 to the Broncos) ran 4.95 and didn’t lift. His 28-inch vertical was 2 inches short of Johnson’s and 1 1/2 inches short of Bisnowaty.
4. I believe James Conner did himself some good at the Combine, running a 4.65 and recording 20 bench presses — the latter number not that far behind his offensive line teammates.
Conner, 6-1, 233, has trimmed down since the end of the season and maybe his two months of training improved his speed. Miller says Conner will go to the Eagles in the fourth round (139).
NFL.com about Conner: “Arm tackles are a waste of time. Conner’s lack of speed and reactive quickness could limit his role as a pro, but his heart, work ethic and ability to keep the chains moving could make him a red-zone specialist with the ability to handle some third down duties as well.”
Just to compare: Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, who ran a 4.49 with 22 reps on the bench, is projected to go 19th overall to the Buccaneers.
5. Edge rusher Ejuan Price, 5-11, 241, is projected to go in the sixth round (200) to the Colts. He ran a 4.84 with 20 bench reps. NFL.com quoted an NFC scouting director on Price: “He’s got some physical limitations, which will keep him from getting picked early, but I see an NFL rusher.”
NFL.com reported further: “Can be quick to shut motor down if he doesn’t think a tackle is within range. Appeared gassed at times.”
6. OK, what about Orndoff, who ran a 4.84 and did 17 bench presses at the Combine on a 6-5, 253 frame?
An NFC North scout had an interesting observation on NFL.com: “He will get better as a blocker, but he’s as good as what we have now.”
If that’s true, Orndoff will get drafted because, as a downfield receiver, he has shown the ability to split the seam in a defense.

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