You think as a two-time All-American and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award winner Will Sutton would be cut some slack. But when you're under the microscope of NFL scouts, perceived flaws tend to snowball during draft season.
And with Senior Bowl practice underway in Mobile, Ala., the criticisms of Sutton's weight gain have seemingly rose from the dead. Here's what former scout and current NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah had to say about Sutton Monday morning showcase:
ASU DT Will Sutton looked very lethargic and heavy legged.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 21, 2014
Kevin Weidl of ESPN.com shared Jermiah's sentiment:
@MoveTheSticks Couldn't agree more. Carrying some bad weight. Whoever told him to bulk up this past offseason needs to be fired.— Kevin Weidl (@KevinW_ESPN) January 21, 2014
Sutton weighted in at 315 earlier this week but informed the media he was playing closer to "around 330 pounds" during his senior season. While that number seems to be a bit exaggerated from a purely observational standpoint, Sutton did tell Optimum Scouting that he's looking to get down to 300 pounds by the NFL Combine on Feb. 22.
But by Tuesday, it seemed the scouts were warming up to Sutton as his big plays began to shine through:
Will Sutton w/ beautiful swim move around Gabe Ikard. Added weight may have affected speed after rush, but his rush moves/hand quicks remain— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) January 21, 2014
Will Sutton blowing up another play in the backfield. He wins at the snap quite a bit. Enough to take the negatives when he doesn't?— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) January 21, 2014
Sutton also said he's already spoken with representatives for the Saints, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Ravens, Raiders, Texans and Packers among other teams so it certainly sounds like there's still plenty of interest in his services.
As many ASU observers know, Sutton's weight hardly effected his play on the collegiate level this season. On paper, his numbers were down but that's simply because he operated as a facilitating disruptor more than a one-on-one-playmaker.
That said, it seems that teams are informing Sutton that they prefer him to more attacking and explosive on the professional level. It's doubtful that he drops back to his 270-pound playing days from his breakthrough junior campaign but 290 seems like a reasonable compromise.
At that point, it will just be about whether or not Sutton can match the physicality of NFL lineman enough to consistently be a factor at the line of scrimmage. If not, his upside could max out as a rotational lineman.
CBS Sports currently ranks Sutton as a second round talent (50th overall and sixth at his position). Sutton's best opportunity to make a leap up NFL Draft boards should be when he's slimmed down for the Combine but he must be productive enough at the Senior Bowl to not feed into the "bad weight" hype train.
For more on Sutton at the Senior Bowl, here's a clip of him facing off against Vanderbilt left tackle Wesley Johnson. Sutton also spoke to NFL.com about the early conversations he's had with NFL teams.