The pro day circuit is just heating up with nearly a full month ahead of showcases at schools across the country.
The Bears sent scout Rex Hogan to Knoxville, Tenn., today for Tennessee’s workout. Volunteers quarterback Erik Ainge is in a large group of projected mid-round picks who the team could be considering with a second-day pick. But it’s impossible to look too far into the their potential interest in Ainge for the simple fact that Tennessee is a huge program. You don’t skip the pro day at a top-tier SEC school any year.
Ainge never matched the hype generated during his freshman season in 2004 (it only seems like he’s been there since Peyton Manning left) when he passed for 17 touchdowns vs. nine interceptions and averaged 7.33 yards per attempt. He was productive the past two seasons throwing for 6,511 yards and 50 touchdowns, including two in a New Year’s Day victory over Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.
Ainge won 29 games over four seasons, and I remember something general manager Jerry Angelo said about Vince Young before he was drafted. He was asked about Young’s mechanics, how he projected as a passer on the pro level and if he could make the adjustment from a wide-open offense at Texas to a more traditional one on Sundays.
``He’s a winner,’’ Angelo said.
But for all the victories, Ainge never seemed to lift the Volunteers to that next level. He has good size at 6-5, 225 but can fall into ruts where he’s inaccurate. It’s easy to poke holes in the games of passers are projected to be mid-round selections on down but eventually there’s got to be another Tom Brady, right?
``I like him,’’ said one coach who was in attendance and confirmed Hogan’s appearance. ``He’s real natural for a big guy and he’s got a real natural motion. He’s feet are decent for being a big guy. The only thing is he doesn’t always throw a spiral. The ball doesn’t always come off his hand clean. There's something there to work with."