NFL Draft analysts have pegged Dan Connor and Justin King as the two Penn State football players most likely to be selected in the draft's first round.
Yesterday, scouts from the vast majority of NFL teams spent several hours inside Penn State's Holuba Hall to study the two defensive standouts. They came to focus a close eye on whether the players were consistent -- how they moved and if they showed coordination during the drills.
Both players spoke confidently when they emerged from Holuba's glass doors around mid afternoon yesterday. When Connor was asked how he would rate his performance on a scale of one to 10, a smile spread across the linebacker's face as he responded with "probably like a 13."
King, a cornerback, said he did the vertical leap, three-cone and shuttle drills, adding "I caught the ball well, did some new drills. I had a very good day overall."
Connor became Penn State's all-time tackle leader in 2007 and has been projected as a late first-round pick on mock drafts conducted by ESPN and CBS Sports. ESPN's Mel Kiper recently picked King to go late in the first round. The cornerback finished 2007 tied for first in the Big Ten in passes defended with 17.
One AFC scout, on his way into yesterday's workout, said he thought Connor would be picked somewhere in the middle of the first round. He noted it would be a higher selection than Connor's former teammate, Paul Posluszny, taken in the second round -- 34th overall -- by the Buffalo Bills last year.
"Dan's a little bit bigger," the scout said. "He's more physical. He's a true middle linebacker, in my opinion."
The scouts and assistant coaches interviewed by The Daily Collegian were granted anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about their evaluations.
The same scout said he thought King could have benefited by staying at Penn State for his final season of eligibility. But he added that King could still go late in the first or early in the second round.
"I think he's good enough that he'll get in the right situation with the right team," the scout said.
The only NFL head coach in attendance yesterday, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, stayed for the entire workout but declined to answer questions as he left Holuba Hall. The Steelers' director of football operations, Kevin Colbert, also attended yesterday's event.
King's agent, Eric Metz, was hopeful that the cornerback made a good impression on the two Steelers coaches.
"He looked pretty good in black and gold in high school," Metz said, referring to Pittsburgh's Gateway High School, where King was a five-star recruit. "You never know. Maybe lightning strikes twice."