Gaither likely secures selection in supplemental draft
Although a strained shoulder limited his performance in the bench-press drill, University of Maryland offensive tackle Jared Gaither likely cemented his status as a player who will be chosen in Thursday's supplemental draft by turning in a solid overall workout for league scouts Monday.The audition, which took place on the Maryland campus, was attended by representatives from about half of the NFL's 32 franchises. Atlanta and Jacksonville, both of which have indicated interest in Gaither, had multiple scouts at the workout. One scout from an AFC team termed the workout "probably a little better than what we expected." Another AFC scout said Gaither "almost certainly" will be selected in the summertime lottery, which is limited to special-cases players and includes 10 prospects this year. Gaither essentially went through a combine-style workout, which included positional drills that were run by an Oakland Raiders representative. He was able to do only 15 repetitions on the standard 225-pound bench press, having slightly injured his shoulder last week while preparing for Monday's audition. Scouts clocked Gaither, who checked in at 6-feet-8¾ and 324 pounds, at between 4.98 and 5.14 seconds in the 40-yard sprint. He posted a vertical jump of 31½ inches, a broad jump of 9 feet, 3 inches, a short shuttle of 4.49-4.53 seconds and a cone drill of 7.12-7.25 seconds. The short shuttle and cone drill are change-of-direction drills. Of the 42 offensive linemen who ran the 40 at the combine in February, only four posted faster times than Gaither's. And only six of the 37 linemen who participated in the vertical jump recorded better efforts. Gaither did not decide to make himself available in the supplemental draft until less than a month ago, when his efforts to regain academic eligibility in the Terrapins' program fell short. His application for the supplemental draft was not approved until this week, so Gaither did not have much time to prepare for a workout. A starter in 17 of his 23 appearances for Maryland over the past two seasons, Gaither might challenge Georgia cornerback Paul Oliver for top billing in the supplemental draft. In addition to Oliver and Gaither, the consensus seems to be that Nebraska offensive lineman Chris Patrick is the only other player with a viable shot of being selected. Any team that chooses a player in the supplemental draft must forfeit its corresponding pick in the regular-phase draft in April 2008. It must also fit the player into its 2007 rookie pool allocation when he signs a contract. Blessed with great size, Gaither has surprisingly quick feet and is regarded as an outstanding pass protector, a blocker who might project as a left tackle at the professional level. In 2005, Gaither did not surrender a sack in his 11 starts. He did not play as well in 2006, but remains an intriguing prospect. Agent Kevin Pompey said before the workout that his client isn't as concerned with where he is selected as much as he is getting settled in with a team and getting prepared for his first NFL training camp. "With the draft, we'll let the chips fall where they fall," Pompey said, "and then Jared will be ready to move forward with his career." Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.
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