View From The Valley
Birds Catch Glimpse Of PSU Standouts Brisker, Dotson At Pro Day
Penn State on Thursday held its annual pro day in Holuba Hall, allowing 15 NFL prospects another chance to showcase their talents.
The participants included safety Jaquan Brisker, linebacker Ellis Brooks, cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, linebacker Max Chizmar, wide receiver Jahan Dotson, defensive end Arnold Ebikietie, safety Drew Hartlaub, kicker Vlad Hilling, defensive end/linebacker Jesse Luketa, linebacker Brandon Smith, kicker/punter Jordan Stout, defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo, offensive lineman Rasheed Walker, wide receiver Benjamin Wilson, and offensive lineman Eric Wilson.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was in attendance, along with special teams quality control coach Tyler Brown.
Here are my observations.
(Note: All testing numbers were provided by the school.)
S Jaquan Brisker
Brisker (6-1 1/2, 206 pounds) recorded 22 reps on the bench press, a 38.5-inch vertical, a 10-feet, 4-inch (10-4) in the broad jump, and said he ran a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash.
During the on-field portion of the workout, Brisker looked explosive and fluid in transition, and tracked the ball well downfield. He also showed keen attention to detail during each drill.
The fast-rising safety offers the requisite length, athleticism, and positional versatility that Gannon needs from the safety position to effectively run his defense. Given the underwhelming state of the Eagles’ safety room just four weeks from the draft, Brisker should certainly be in play at pick No. 51, or perhaps even in the back end of Round 1, if the Eagles opt to trade down.
During his media availability, I asked Brisker if he spoke with Gannon during the pro day and if he’d been in contact with the Eagles.
“Yes sir. I talked to them during [the NFL Scouting] Combine,” he said. “I talked to the coach today. I just had a few conversations.”
When asked if he had an official visit with the Eagles lined up, Brisker replied: “Not yet.”
WR Jahan Dotson
Dotson (5-10 3/4, 184) stood on his 40 time (4.43) and jumps (36-inch vertical, 10-1 broad jump) from the NFL Scouting Combine last month but added 15 reps on the bench press and a 7.28 3-cone drill time to his slate.
As a whole, I came away most impressed with Dotson’s performance. Despite lacking prototypical size, Dotson, who ranks third in school history in receiving touchdowns (23), fourth in receiving yards (2,620), and fourth in receptions (175), put on a clinic at Holuba Hall.
The technically sound receiver showcased his nuance as a route-runner, caught every ball thrown in his vicinity with soft hands, and demonstrated his outstanding ball-tracking prowess on multiple occasions.
The Eagles desperately need a big-bodied boundary “X” wide receiver, but Dotson checks off just about every box and boasts a refined skill-set that suggests he’s ready to contribute from Day 1.
If the Eagles go receiver early, they should consider Dotson as much as anyone.
LB Brandon Smith
Smith (6-3 1/2, 244) recorded 20 reps on the bench press, a 37.5-inch vertical, 10-8 broad jump, a 4.52 40, and 6.94 3-cone drill.
His athleticism is apparent, and his skill-set figures to translate favorably to the current NFL landscape, but the on-field portion of his workout left me wondering if he’s truly primed to deliver early returns as a rookie.
I thought his footwork was fairly sloppy in warmups and drills – he lost his footing on multiple occasions – and watching film, he appears to process a tick slower than his intangibles suggest.
Still, Smith offers length, positional versatility, sideline-to-sideline range, and coverage acumen. If he lands in the right system and develops his overall game, he has the potential to be a high-end starter.
That said, the Eagles need immediate help at the position, so not sure Smith fits the bill in that regard.
DE/LB Jesse Luketa
Luketa (6-3, 257) managed 18 reps on the bench press, 36.5 vertical, 10-0 broad jump, 4.2 short shuttle, 7.29 3-cone drill, and opted against running the 40, sitting on the 4.89 he was credited with at the Combine, where he pulled up lame on his second attempt.
Luketa opted to work out with the defensive linemen and shined from an explosion and quick-twitch standpoint. His hand usage also proved to be swift and powerful. Any questions remaining about Luketa’s ability to move fluidly in confined spaces were answered with his short shuttle time.
I asked the multi-faceted defender if he’s been in contact with the Eagles, and if he had an opportunity to speak with Gannon on Thursday: “I have been in contact with Philadelphia, but I was not able to talk to [Gannon] today.”
On what he aimed to prove at his pro day: “Honestly, just remove any doubt regarding my short-area quickness, change of direction – and I felt that I did exactly that with my short shuttle, clocking a 4.2-flat. Being able to show that I can get in and out of my breaks, and move and change directions.”
On whether teams view him as more of a defensive end or linebacker: “It’s been a little bit of both, honestly. Some teams, they’re kind of asking me where I feel most comfortable, and I tell them I play defense. My perception and how I look at things is, I want to be the most disruptive player on the football field, whether it’s at the linebacker position or defensive end or outside linebacker position. It doesn’t really matter to me.”
DE Arnold Ebikietie
Ebikietie (6-2 1/2, 247) recorded 19 reps on the bench press, 38-inch vertical, 10-8 broad jump, 4.65 40, and 6.95 3-cone.
He looked quick, light on his feet, and smooth in and out of his breaks. In light of Thursday afternoon’s Derek Barnett re-signing, I’m not sure the Eagles will feel compelled to come away with two defensive ends on draft weekend.
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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