By: Barry Barnes, Founder
Tempe, AZ – The Arizona Cardinals training facility is amazing, and its air conditioning technology cools the inside according to the heated temperature outdoors, which occasionally is hazardous. However, the cooling system wasn’t cool enough to lower the heat forecast by the athletes who participate in the NFL Regional Combine.
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim gave a fiery, realistic speech to the offensive NFL hopefuls prior to their workouts.
Keim’s message to the athletes was not totally about a becoming a NFL player, but “building the character of men.”
The third-year general manager expressed the importance of what makes a complete NFL player, from his perspective. Basically, stating that an athlete can have all the physical attributes of being great between the lines, but if their personality sucks, he wants nothing to do with them.
The message was clear, and when Keim said, “leave it all on the field today and have fun,” the future of the league lit the practice turf on fire.
Let’s see who brought the heat inside the chilled facility.
The headliner for the RC in Arizona was Stephen Rivers, the younger brother of San Diego Chargers veteran signal caller Philip Rivers. Rivers had a decent workout, but having to shine through the shadow of a potential Hall of Fame sibling added pressure, which probably hampered him from displaying a better performance. With assurance, Rivers should have a better Pro Day after the knowledge he gained, and in a comfortable environment.
Nonetheless, quarterbacks Joe Gray of San Jose State and William Arndt of Western Connecticut were solid, in terms of a complete outing.
Gray displayed the tools of a pocket quarterback with the mobility to move outside, possessing a quick release. Gray is an all-around athlete who stands tall in the pocket for a 6-2, 207-pound leader and has the intangibles to develop sooner rather than later because of his ability to process quickly.
“In college, we were told to push the pocket more. Today, I learn to hold my spot at the top of my drop,” said Gray.
Inquiring minds want to know how did Arndt get overlooked and slip down to the Division-III level with the cannon he has. When Arndt lined up for his first warm up throw, it was clear that Saturday afternoon was gameday as he rifled his attempt. He threw the ball hard all day on a rope with velocity.
The pop in his throws were loud, and when passing on the run, the 6-5, 215-pound flame thrower delivered more heat. When asked about his story, it was touching.
“In high school, unfortunately, I had a lot of injuries. I dealt with paralysis in high school,” said Arndt. “No didn’t get a lot of looks coming out of high school. So, I went to a local school and spend time with my family. I was blessed to not get injured to college and I got better and stronger.
“I throw everyday and throwing each day helps me to stay consistent,” he continued, humbly. “I learned so much out here and, now, I’m looking forward to my Pro Day.”
Damond Lampkin’s emotions were very high coming into the RC and he attacked every pass as if he was angry. Evidently, his passion for the game was expressed outwardly as he ran hard and dug deep in his route running. With his great hands, the 5-8, 165-pound receiver can be compared to Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. due to their angry approach to the game.
And, of course, Lampkins was motivated by something more than football.
“One thing that motivated me is my one-year old daughter back at home,” said Lampkins. “Everytime when I wake up in the morning, I look at her, and I thank God, of course. I just wanted to come out here and give it my all.”
While Lampkins ran hard, Lamar University’s Devonn Brown moved effortlessly in and out his breaks and caught all his passes with great stride. Brown ran his routes consistently well, and displayed solid footwork. But, the 5-9, 195-pound pass catcher believes he need to work on his “speed.”
Jacob Lampman kept warm as he was laced in a sweatsuit and a hat throughout his workouts. When he took off his sweats for his first exercise, he rocketed off a 40″ vertical and fired off loudly, “Let’s go! It’s time to work, yeah.”
And the pride of Ferris State put in work by pounding all his drills. Lampman is a powerful pass catcher who loves gaining the tough yards. The physical Lampman plays with a linebacker’s mentality and isn’t shy about his emotions, and his program.
“I had to represent for Ferris State,” said Lampman, proudly. “We have so much great talent and that gets overlooked for being a Division-II. The Division-II level, in terms of its talent, get overlooked and I wanted to show what the Division-II have to offer. I was a little bum out about my 40, but the rest of my workouts were pretty good.
BALL CATCHERS AND O-LINEMEN
Arizona’s Jared Baker didn’t disappoint with his performance as he topped all running backs with a 4.42 40 time and a solid overall showing. A very balance, hard runner.
Jeff Seybold Jr. of Pittsburg State produced the same output, but it was his catching ability that help set him a part. The Division II standout met the goals he wanted to achieve, still understanding there’s more work ahead of him.
“I knew I had to come here and give all I have, but I have a lot to do,” Seybold Jr. “I did a great job with catching the ball. I know NFL teams like ball catchers with that ability and I was able to show it. Also, blocking is something a like to do as well.”
The scouts were not able to witness Seybold Jr’s blocking. Nevertheless, they were able to witness Northeastern State University Joel Rockmore Jr.’s burst. Rockmore Jr.’s explosiveness was evident out the gate, and when the ball was in his hands, he kept the ball high displaying great balance.
“Sleds (laughter). Sleds is probably one of the hardest workouts, but it definitely helps to perform on the field,” said Rockmore Jr., when asked what did he do to prepare for the combine. “I always work on my balance as far as running and cutting. I had to work on core strength. Core strength is very important. I watch Darren Sproles (back for the Philadelphia Eagles) a lot and those small backs.
“Pool workouts, I’m big on that as well. But sleds, you get to see that burst and that velocity. So sleds helps and I benefited for sure.”
Sione Keni of University of San Diego is the complete package. “An animal,” one NFL scout said. He’s very mobile and powerful.
For Central Missouri’s Brian Berzanski, who stands 6-5, 310-pounds, has amazing feet. For his size and strength, to move as fast the way he does was breathtaking. He is surely a project in the making of becoming great.
“It takes a lot of hard work in the weight room,” said Berzanski. “Where I work out of is EFT in Chicago. They did a great job with me. We do a lot of footwork, speed drills every single day…two hours before workouts. That’s why I’m successful with that.
“Anytime you get a chance to get in front of scouts, it’s a great opportunity,” he added. “Scouts always looking to see who will fall through the cracks and to be here for them to see me was a huge opportunity me.”
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