Rule No. 1 for this time of year: Take everything said, written and/or rumored about NFL draft prospects with a grain of salt the size of Montana.
Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers held his pro day today. He reportedly ran a 4.8 40-yard dash, which is scooting along nicely for a man standing 6-4 and weighing 280 pounds.
Bowers, who had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, also said, "I'm 100 percent. I still have a lot of work to do. Still strengthening and getting it back to where it needs to be. But it's not hurting. It's not giving me any problems."
Bowers could be telling the truth. Or it could be like a few months ago when he reportedly said he'd be 100 percent for the combine in February. Who knows the truth this time of year. One just has to trust that 32 teams will find out the truth April 9 when Bowers and other injured prospects go back to Indy for their medical re-evaluations.
To me, a torn meniscus doesn't sound like a big deal. It doesn't sound like anything that would affect a player long-term. Then again, I'm not going to be the guy cutting the check for Da'Quan's signing bonus, so I can understand the microscope that Bowers has been placed under.
Bowers' 40 time would suggest his knee is coming along nicely. Reports are out that he felt he should have run a 4.7 because that's what he was running before his pro day. I've been doing this for 20 years and I've never met a football player who didn't say he's run faster than the time he posted. If a guy says he's a 4.4, he's a 4.5. If he says he's a 4.7, he's a 4.8. Etc.
The 40 time means nothing to me. I'd be more concerned about why Bowers did basically nothing of note for two seasons and then broke out with 15 1/2 sacks while winning major college football's top awards for defensive player and defensive end last fall.
Bowers is an intriguing prospect for those teams hanging around in the 11-15 range. I've seen mock drafts that have Bowers going to the Vikings at No. 12. That could be one heck of a value pick for the Vikings.
Elite defensive ends are tough to find, and there was a time when Bowers was considered possibly the No. 1 overall draft pick.
The Vikings have a recent history of benefitting from players who drop because of faulty red flags. Adrian Peterson was a medical risk that caused him to fall past six teams. And Percy Harvin was a character risk that caused him to drop past 21 teams. In both cases, the Vikings ended up with excellent players and great value picks.
The Vikings are finding out just how difficult it is for a team to assure itself of a franchise quarterback without the No. 1 pick in a year in which there's clearly a franchise QB to select. The team's No. 1 priority in the draft is quarterback. But if Bowers is on the board and your choices are Ryan Mallett as the top QB or Bowers as the top DE, whaddaya do? Take the QB you think is OK or the DE you think is dominant? With as many holes as the Vikings have, no one can fault them for using the 12th pick on the best player. The only position they shouldn't consider at No. 12 is running back.
Other than television scheduling, can anyone tell me why the NFL draft shouldn't be moved back? Why should the Vikings have to make decisions in the draft while not knowing if Sidney Rice or Ray Edwards are free agents? Why should the Bengals have to make the fourth overall pick without having a chance to grant disgruntled QB Carson Palmer's request for a trade?
Training camps don't start for another four months. Why not delay the draft with the hope of a new CBA being reached this summer? If there's no agreement by the end of June, then hold the draft in mid-July.
Why not at least try to have a free agency and trading period before the draft is held? It's not like moving the draft will hurt ratings. Heck, the league could issue a statement right now that the draft will be held in two hours, and chances are the draft would still beat the Twins season opener in television ratings. Sad, but true.