Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Newton, Mallett draw praise after workouts

Posted by: under Off the field, Vikings, Vikings off the field Updated: March 9, 2011 - 11:26 AM

We wrote a story for today about how the Vikings plan to conduct private workouts with some of the top quarterback draft prospects. 

It's unclear if Auburn's Cam Newton and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett are on that list, but they reportedly had strong showings at their respective pro day workouts on Tuesday.

Based on reports, every NFL team had coaches and/or scouts at the Auburn and Arkansas pro days, which is not surprising. In fact, it would have been surprising if any team did not attend those workouts considering the talent level at both places.

But Newton and Mallett drew a lot of attention as teams consider how high to select them.

According to this story, Auburn officials counted 125 NFL officials, including five head coaches, at their pro day. By all accounts, Newton performed much better in the passing drills than he did at the NFL Scouting Combine two weeks ago.

Newton struggled with his accuracy at the combine but was more on target during his pro day.

"It was way better than the combine," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock told the Associated Press. "I saw what I expected to see. He's a big-armed kid. He's working real hard on his footwork. By no means is he a finished product. Like any spread quarterback, he's got a long way to go with his footwork.
 
"His footwork hasn't caught up with his arm yet. He's working hard. The throws I was most impressed with were the ones I wanted to see, which were the deep ins, the skinny posts, the deep comebacks. Those are the throws you don't see a lot in the spread offense."

Mallett showed off his big arm at the combine and again at his pro day. The main concerns with Mallett remain his character off the field, his decision-making on it and his mobility. He faced more questions about rumors over drug use Tuesday, saying he doesn't regret how he handled the subject during his media session at the combine.

Mallett reportedly ran a 5.37 in the 40, which is slooooow, but everyone knows Mallett's mobility and speed are not good.

Here is what NFL.com's Bucky Brooks wrote after watching Mallett's workout:

"The junior was absolutely sensational during the workout, and his natural talent is unrivaled in this year’s draft. As a strong-armed passer, Mallett easily makes all of the requisite throws in the pro game. He had little trouble putting the ball on the proper shoulder with velocity and zip. His arm strength, touch and accuracy also stood out on deep throws. His high-arcing throws consistently hit receivers in stride 40 to 45 yards down field, but he also showed the ability to adjust the arc and trajectory of his throws to match the speed of his intended receiver.
 
"Mallett’s footwork and fundamentals were sound in the pocket, as he quickly sets up and comes to balance following three-, five- or seven-step drops. His natural rhythm comes from his extensive experience running a pro-style attack, and he shouldn’t have any problem transitioning to the next level from a physical standpoint.
 
"When looking for a flaw in Mallett’s workout, I would have to point to his disappointing athleticism. He ran a slow 5.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash and registered just a 26-inch vertical. Those numbers indicate that he will struggle escaping the pocket and that he isn’t a threat to run.
 
"However, everyone who watched the game tape understood that fact going into the workout and only wanted to see how well Mallett could reset his feet and throw on time. He didn’t really have a chance to showcase those skills in this controlled workout, but he will need to show those skills in private workouts.
 
"If he can address that flaw and the looming character concerns, Mallett could hear his name called at the end of the first round.

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