Hello again Panther fans. Now that the combine is slowly coming to a close from a workout perspective, all 3 Appalachian State Mountaineer prospects have run their drills and for the most part have each improved their stock. The three players from App are LB D.J. Smith, FS Mark LeGree, and OL Daniel Kilgore (yes, you say it KILL-GORE). LeGree had a particularly impressive combine, finishing as one of the top performers of all safeties at the combine in several categories.
I will give a short breakdown of each of their performances after the jump..LB - D.J. Smith
Physique: 5'11" 239lbs. Projected as: 3-4 ILB, 6th-7th round draft pick
Measurables: 40time: 4.78 Bench: 20 reps Vert: 31" Broad: 8'8" Shuttle: 4.45 3cone: 7.35
Draft Stock due to combine: Increased Slightly
The picture above probably needs to be turned into one of those demotivational posters, saying something like "assisted facepalm: for when you can't palm yourself hard enough" but Smith's performance at the combine was anything but a facepalm. While he didn't necessarily improve his stock, he did draw some notice from observers, which for a small school prospect is sometimes the best they can ask for. This from Iamthe12thman.com another SB nation site:
Von Miller was obviously the star for the LBs today, but I liked what I saw from Appalachian State LB D.J. Smith. He may only be 5'10 239, but he moved as well as anyone I saw out there. Looks like a nice 3-4 ILB to me. My bet is Baltimore or Pittsburgh scoops him up in the 5th or 6th round and in 3 years everyone will wonder who the hell this guy is.
D.J. has been a hell of a linebacker for us at App State, but he certainly doesn't fit the physique of your typical NFL level linebacker. He is stocky though, and like a lot of undersized guys, he has that competitive fire that will just hit you in the mouth if you think he's a pushover. He recorded 525 tackles in his tenure at App State as a 4 year starter, so he certainly comes in more seasoned than most prospects. These excepts are taking from his NFL combine profile:
Strengths: Smith has adequate bulk for the next level. Does a good job making plays inside the box when unblocked. Doesn't shy away from contact. Flashes some range against the run. Comfortable dropping into coverage, can read screen and displays the ability to anticipate routes. Good character and intangibles. Highly productive.
Weaknesses: Lacks height. Can be pancakes or neutralized by powerful run blocking linemen. Struggles to get off blocks. Inconsistent range against the run and angles of pursuit. Needs to become a more sure tackler. Will struggle to hang with quicker tight ends and backs in man coverage at the next level.
Potential for selection by the Panthers: None. Smith does not fit the mold of our defense and we currently have all the linebackers we can handle. He is an outside shot at best, but only if he ends up undrafted.
OL Daniel Kilgore
Physique: 63" 308lbs. Projected as: OG/OC, 6th-7th round pick
Measurables: 40time: 5.33? Bench: 23 reps Vert: 32.5" Broad: 8'9" Shuttle: 4.68 3cone: 7.59
Draft Stock due to combine: Moderate Increase
Kilgore's one big claim to fame at the NFL Combine was that he has the highest vertical jump of all offensive linemen. A truly worthless test since OL don't need to jump, but a testament to his athleticism. I could not find the official 40 time for him, if anyone knows please comment and I will edit this post. However, i was able to find a source saying that Kilgore's 10 yard split on his 40 time was 1.79, which is the most important part of the 40 for a down linemen. That would put him in the top 10 of the OL class.
Kilgore has the versatility to play both Guard and Center (he also played Tackle for ASU on occasion), and will project as a depth project at the next level. He may become valuable due to his ability to move around on the interior of the line fairly easily. Kilgore anchored an ASU offensive line that only allowed 8 sacks this season, and produced a top 10 offensive unit in points and YPG. From his Combine profile:
Strengths: Kilgore can hold up against the bull rush. Uses violent hands to jar pass rushers. Wall-off run blocker who gets out of his stance quickly and gains initial position. Gets movement off the ball at times. Flashes explosive power at the second level. Excellent competitor and plays with a fiery disposition.
Weaknesses: Lacks some size for the next level. Vulnerable against pass rushers with a wide array of moves or elite quickness. Really needs to watch his pad level and doesn't keep his legs driving after making initial contact. Limited getting out and blocking in space. Blitz awareness is below average.
Potential for selection by the Panthers: Moderate. The Panthers have a need for some versatility and depth along the OL, and Kilgore could prove a good prospect at a low price after spending some time in an NFL level strength and conditioning program. You will note that most of Kilgore's perceived weaknesses are entirely coachable. NFL coaches should be able to coach him into keeping his feet moving at initial contact and to guard against more advanced DL techniques. He probably can be had for a late round pick, possibly even undrafted, and could contribute in a couple of years.
FS Mark LeGree
Physique: 6'0" 210lbs. Projected as: FS, SS, 4-5th round pick
Measurables: 40time: 4.56 Bench: 21 reps Vert: 31" Broad: 9'8" Shuttle: 4.09 3cone: 6.90
Draft Stock due to combine: SOARING
Mark LeGree knocked the doors of Indianapolis with the performance today at the combine. Let me just show you how often he placed in the top 10 at his position:
40 yard dash: 2nd Bench: 2nd Vertical: 7th Broad: 4th 3 cone: 2nd Shuttle: 3rd
21 bench reps out of a safety?? From a "small school"??? You gotta be kidding me. The "Man of Steal" looked more like the Man of Steel today with those kinds of numbers. LeGree has the size and speed to play both safety positions as needed (and has played both at App State). With such an impressive combine, I would think LeGree has improved his stock from a 7th round pick to someone worth 5th or 6th round consideration. His shuttle and 3-cone drill numbers are especially telling of his ability to change direction quickly and his body control.
Mark LeGree, S, Appalachian State. He played at a lower level in college but proved Tuesday that he belongs on the big stage. He ran well and looked smooth and explosive in all drills. He also showed soft hands and the change-of-direction ability to be a solid NFL starter and core special teams coverage man.
Read more: http://aol.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2011-03-01/combine-notes-chattanoogas-skrine-lsus-peterson-close-combine-strong#ixzz1FS5dHVhN
LeGree had a standout career at Appalachian, most of which i detailed in the full article, but i will summarize quickly. Legree finished his Appalachian State career with a whopping 22 interceptions (good for the top spot amongst all active players at any level of NCAA football), with only 5 coming in his Senior season as opposing offenses elected to play away from his insatiable hunger for the football. Legree began both his junior and senior season as a candidate for the Nagurski award, an honor usually reserved for the I-A defensive player of the year but open to all collegiate defenders (he was the only FCS player on the list). He is a three time Buck Buchanan award finalist (Defensive POTY award for FCS football), and 3-time first team All-American. He had a monster season as a sophomore, pulling down 10 interceptions. Here are the notes from his NFL Combine profile:
Strengths: Legree has adequate size and speed. Displays good awareness on the field. Helps with pre-snap alignment and can jump routes. Has the ability to play the deep half. Exhibits great ball skills. Will high-point the football and make plays far outside his frame with an extended hand.
Weaknesses: Likely does not have the athleticism to stick with NFL slots in man coverage. Inconsistent in run support. Tick late reacting upfield on occasion. Doesn't always wrap up and isn't very comfortable tackling in space. Struggles to shed blocks. Doesn't always maintain sound positioning against the run.
Potential for selection by the Panthers: Moderately High. Like Kilgore, many of LeGree's weaknesses can be fixed with proper coaching. This is something he will definitely find in the defensive minds of Rivera, McDermott, and Meeks. He has proven at the combine that he is faster and more agile than anticipated, as well as one of the strongest prospect in the defensive backfield. The Panthers have a need at CB and could use depth at Safety. LeGree can play either safety spot, but probably cannot play corner against faster receivers. There has been talk that either Martin or Godfrey could find themselves moving back to CB like they played in college. Either way, LeGree is a solid selection and has the potential to be a starter one day. The Panthers have gone to the App State well before, and there is no reason to think they wouldn't again for the right price. However, LeGreedy is not a secret anymore, and other teams will take notice possibly putting him outside that late round draft grade where we would ideally like to take him.
This post was inspired by Revshawn's guide to selecting Clemson Tigers. I figured you won't hear much about these App boys, so here is their big shout out!