While most of the NFL is tuned into the lukewarm stove of free agency, front offices are also keeping an eye on amateur talent, via school pro days. In our own backyard, the University of Maryland holds its in-house workouts today over in College Park.
For the non-rabid Terps fans, Redskins.com intern Eric Avissar gives a preview of who to watch for coming into Wednesday’s workouts:
Matt Furstenburg, tight end: As the only Terrapin invited to the Combine, Furstenburg did plenty to help his draft stock, running his 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds and logging a 35.5 inch vertical jump. His speed and agility should allow him to get open against NFL linebackers. Furstenburg was a three-year starter for Maryland, and had his best season statistically as a junior catching 31 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns. In order to firmly establish himself as a blocking tight end in the NFL, Furstenburg (6-3, 242 pounds) will need to get stronger and prove he can gain leverage against bigger opponents.
Kenny Tate, linebacker/safety: Tate is in a unique situation heading into the NFL, having likely hurt his draft stock to return for his senior season. After originally being recruited to play free safety at Maryland, Tate was moved to a linebacker/safety hybrid position. Earlier in his career, Tate was projected as an early-round prospect, but now looks like he may go undrafted after the position change and previous injuries hurt his stock. In 2010, Tate was a first team All-ACC pick with 100 tackles (8.5 for loss), 3.5 sacks and three interceptions playing free safety. As a result of his position change, Tate is considered a tweener heading into the NFL, but has the type of football IQ that makes him an intriguing addition. If Tate can find the right position and stay healthy, he has a chance to be a late-round steal.
Joe Vellano, defensive tackle: Vellano finished his senior campaign with 61 tackles (14 for loss) and six sacks. As an accomplished college player, Vellano is also considered a positional tweener heading into the NFL, needing to add strength and mass to his 6-1, 285 pound frame. Many teams could have a hard time figuring out where he fits best, but Vellano in all likelihood would be best suited for a tackle position in a 4-3 defense, or an end in the 3-4. If Vellano’s work ethic and leadership skills are properly utilized, he stands a great chance of contributing to a team as a late round pick or undrafted free agent.
A.J. Francis, defensive tackle: Francis enjoyed a solid final season at Maryland, recording 43 tackles, including nine for loss and four sacks. In fact, his impressive senior campaign came after Maryland coaches admitted they did not utilize him properly in the previous season. He also boosted his stock with an impressive performance at the East-West Shrine game. Additionally, potential suitors will appreciate Francis for his nose for the ball, as he blocked three kicks and forced three fumbles last season. As an All-ACC honorable mention pick, Francis will likely have to make a NFL roster without getting drafted.
Check back for results later.