ScarletKnights.com is broadcasting the team's annual senior prospect workout for NFL scouts Wednesday at 10:30 am. The Bruce Beck-hosted webcast on KnightVision, featuring Coach Schiano and several Rutgers football alumni, should be a welcome diversion for everyone calling in sick tomorrow in anticipation of the second day of the Big East tournament.
The value of these sort of events is debatable with a few exceptions, but they can be useful at drawing more attention to marginal prospects. Even then however this year's workout is notably lacking in intrigue as compared to past years. Rutgers did not have a very good season, which translated to lackluster interest from NFL teams. Part of that needs to be weighed in context; Rutgers was ran an offense in 2010 that was a poor fit with the available personnel, and the defense fell off a cliff in the second half of the year for reasons that probably were not 100% within their control.
Safety Joe Lefeged is generally considered the team's top prospect, as evidenced by his invitations to the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. Compared to his peers, Joe worked out well at the Combine. He proved his kick return prowess was no fluke with a 4.43 yard recorded time in the forty-yard dash. There would be little sense in additional workouts, although scouts may wish to see him go through more drills if possible. Lefeged's stock took a hit with some coverage miscues last fall, and a disappointing week at Senior Bowl practices. He could make up some ground back into the mid rounds by impressing on his team visits in the coming weeks.
One player who should gain a fair bit on the day is corner Brandon Bing. He clearly has the ability to run in the 4.4 range or better, which may not be apparent to those who don't regularly watch Rutgers games. It's not much of an exaggeration to suggest that alone would be enough to get him a year or two on the practice squad with the Oakland Raiders. (Owner Al Davis is more fixated on forty times than he is on tracksuits.)
As to which prospect could have the best chance of actually making a team as a late round pick or undrafted free agent, the smart money would be on linebacker Antonio Lowery or end Alex Silvestro. Lowery was a standout special teams performer earlier in his career, before taking on a starting role. That is a big plus when it comes to sticking on NFL rosters, and he can run a little too. Lowery was very effective as a junior while battling through injuries. He had some trouble shedding blockers last year though, which fell a lot on the defensive line fading in the season's second half. There were too many missed tackles too, but Lowery was a pretty good starter all things considered.
Wasn't really the fault of Silvestro though. Alex has one heck of a motor, and was always making plays even if the results weren't necessarily reflected in stat lines. Problem is though, those usually aren't the qualities that stand out at these events. Although, the scouts in attendance will be able to get the inside scoop from the Rutgers coaches on hand...
Jonathan Freeny was the other Scarlet Knight drawing some pro interest last summer. He will almost certainly play linebacker in the NFL. Not only will his official recorded height and weight be important, but look for Freeny to be asked to perform linebacker drills. Teddy Dellaganna should also draw some interest owing to his strong leg. One team could bring him in for a look at a mini-camp to look and see if they can work on shortening his release, and working on his directional punting. 2010 starters C Howard Barbieri and DT Charlie Noonan will also work out, along with backup end Sorie Bayoh.
The Rutgers Pro Day usually features a number of additional area prospects showcasing their wares, with scouts and NFL personnel executives loathe to travel to every smaller program. Monmouth's Miles Austin may be the most famous example in recent memory. Monmouth lineman Tom Ottaiano is the only known name as of now. ScarletKnights.com also mentions several former Scarlet Knights being in attendance as well, which includes a few interesting names. Tight end Shamar Graves is a terrific athlete who didn't have enough reps under his belt last year to catch on with a team. Fullback Andres Morales didn't come back for his senior season, but his blocking prowess arguably warranted more playing time.