As hundreds of NFL combine invitees demonstrated their abilities at Indianapolis this past February, hundreds more prepared to show what they could do at their respective schools’ pro days. These snubs have a tougher road ahead in terms of making themselves visible, but many have the types of days that help them go pro.
Some snubs we’ve mentioned in past years currently work at Gillette. Practice squad receiver Jonathan Krause got written up here for his 4.35-second 40, while practice squad linebacker Eric Martin got noticed for, among other things, his 6.63-second 3-cone drill, which would have qualified him for third best overall at the 2013 combine.
Special teamer Don Jones, who played nine games for New England in 2014, showed up in our notes for his 42-inch vertical. Other pro-day proponents who got a cup of Patriots Place DD-to-go include cornerback Stephon Morris, running back Stephen Houston and returner Reggie Dunn (spring 2013’s fastest 40 at 4.25 seconds).
For an overview of combine and pro day testing events (40-yard dash, 3-cone drill, etc.), you can view the NFL’s page here.)
Kudos, as always, to Gil Brandt, whose diligence this time of year on his pro day blog deserves a ton of credit.
Some performances of note over the past couple of weeks:
He’ll Show You He’s Worthy: Troy wide receiver/punt returner Chandler Worthy (an adorable 5-8, 176 pounds) ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, which would have tied him for seventh overall at the NFL combine (fifth for receivers). His his 11-foot-five broad jump would have put him in fourth overall (second for receivers), while his 39.5-inch vertical jump would have placed him seventh for receivers. Worthy led the Trojans with 44 receptions in 2014 for 428 yards (9.8-yard average) and three touchdowns. He also returned two kicks for scores last season, averaging over 26 yards per runback.
Gopher It: Minnesota free safety Cedric Thompson (5-11, 211), ran a 4.48 40-yard dash (top five for combine safeties), a 6.96-second 3-cone drill (top six) and leaped 40.5 inches, besting all 2015 combine safeties by one inch. Thompson had 83 tackles last season to go along with two pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions. He may get a second look from Patriots scouts after his game against national champ Ohio State, where he notched 10 tackles (six solo).
He Will Grant You This: Looks like running back Corey Grant (5-9, 201) did himself some good at Auburn’s pro day with a 4.28-second 40. That time would have tied for fastest overall at this year’s combine (UAB wide receiver J. J. Nelson). His 10-foot-7 broad jump would have tied him for second among combine running backs. Grant averaged 6.1 yards per carry this past season (60 for 364) and served as his team’s main kick returner. He could be on the Pats’ radar, as Coach Bill Belichick attended the Tigers’ pro day. Plus, Grant transferred from Alabama, coached by Belichick bud Nick Saban.
Check Jimmy Out: Though small for a linebacker at 6-1, 228, Northwestern’s Jimmy Hall has the athleticism to contribute on special teams. His 4.45-second 40 would have bested all combine linebackers. His 10-foot-10 broad jump would have tied for third at the position, while his 6.96-second 3-cone and 39.5-inch vertical would both have made LB top five. Due to injuries, Hall switched to safety in his last game for the Wildcats and garnered 11 tackles vs. Illinois. Had 58 tackles last season (5.5 for loss) and two interceptions.
All’s Wells That Ends Wells: Another smaller linebacker, Matthew Wells out of Mississippi State (6-2, 222), also got our attention due to his speed. Forget his college position – Wells’ 4.44 40 would have ranked second among combine safeties. His 6.97-second 3-cone would have made top six among safeties. As an outside linebacker for the Bulldogs, Wells had 45 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and four sacks. He also broke up eight passes.
Smile For The Cameron: Looking for a rookie receiver? Why not an Illinois State guy? Cameron Meredith (6-3, 207) ran a 4.42 40 and leapt 39 inches during his pro day (held at Northwestern), both of which would have tied him for seventh among receivers at the combine. Meredith also timed at 6.76 seconds in the 3-cone, which would have placed him sixth for pass-catchers in Indianapolis. After switching to receiver from QB his junior year (21 receptions), Meredith ended up leading the Redbirds as a senior with 66 catches for 1,061 yards (16.1 avg) and nine touchdowns.
A Bench On The Hill: Sam Houston State running back Keshawn Hill is neither very big (5-10, 211), nor very fast (4.55 40) nor particularly quick (7.20 3-cone). Strong? Yup: Hill completed 30 lifts in the bench press, which would have tied him for first among combine running backs with 247-pound fullback Joey Iosefa out of Hawaii. In 2014, Hill rushed for 1,150 yards (5.9 avg) and 18 touchdowns. He also caught 32 passes for 291 yards (9.1 avg) and averaged 23.4 yards per kick return for the Bearkats. Kool.
Join The Hunt: Sometimes, the combine scouts simply miss. Running back Akeem Hunt (5-10, 189) out of Purdue made sure they knew it, running a 4.36-second 40 (best among combine running backs, tied for sixth overall) and a 6.71-second 3-cone drill (best among RBs, tied for eighth overall). Hunt led the Boilermakers in both rushing (949 yards, 5.5 avg, six TDs) and receiving (48 rec, 6.1 avg, two TDs). As a junior, Hunt averaged over 26 yards per kickoff return, bringing one back for a score.
That’s Suite, Dude: Rangy Utah State free safety Brian Suite (6-3, 203) ran a 4.47-second 40 and – most importantly for the quick-foot-fetishizing Pats, a 6.65-second 3-cone drill. That 40 would have gotten Suite into the top four of all combine safeties, while the 3-cone mark would have made him top safety and fourth-best overall. The Hawaii resident and Punahou grad had 76 tackles last year for the Aggies, as well as two interceptions and nine pass break-ups.
Running Up That Hill: Also at Utah State, running back Joe Hill’s (5-10, 184), best 40 time was 4.28 seconds, tying the aforementioned J. J. Nelson (and Corey Grant) for best mark of the spring. Though Hill underwhelmed in most other categories, failing to match top 15 measurements for combine running backs, that 40 time could get him a look. Hill gained 575 yards on 118 carries in 2014 (4.3 avg), scoring four TDs. He also caught seven passes for 148 yards, a double-take-worthy 21.1 yards per reception.
Hit And Miss: Defensive end Carlos Thompson (6-4, 252) out of Ole Miss got noticed on his pro day, running a 4.75 40 (tied for fifth among combine defensive ends), jumping 38 inches high (third among combine defensive ends), and 10 feet, three inches long (second among DEs). Thompson did not start for the Rebels, yet he managed 29 tackles (three for loss) and two quarterback hits.
Deliver Jordon: Though on the smaller side at 5-9, 195 pounds, UCLA running back Jordon James had a big pro day performance. His 4.42-second 40 would have tied him with Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford for fastest running back, while his 10-foot-11 broad jump would have been tops among combine backs (one inch farther than Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah). James averaged 4.2 yards per carry and 8.6 yards per catch for the Bruins in limited play (57 totes, 10 grabs).
Human Super Nova: Cheers to Rutgers QB Gary Nova (6-1, 222) who ran a 4.61 40. That would have made him the fourth fastest QB at the combine. Nova’s 6.89-3-cone would have come in second to Marcus Mariota (6.87). Nova, Rutgers’ MVP in 2014, completed 57 percent of his passes for 2,851 yards and 22 TDs (12 INTs) last year for the Knights.
Oh, Thank Kevin: Luckily for linebacker Kevin Snyder (6-2, 238), Rutgers’ pro day gave him the chance to show off his athleticism. Snyder ran a 4.55-second 40 (tied for second among all combine linebackers) and a 7.07-second 3-cone (tied for seventh for LBs), plus a 35-inch vertical and 23 bench presses (both tied for 13th among LBs). Last season by the banks of the Raritan, the middle linebacker had 63 tackles, 1.5 sacks and five pass break-ups.
I’m Sending The Wolf: Western Oregon receiver Tyrell Williams (6-4, 204) managed to stand out at Oregon State’s pro day. The Wolf ran a 4.42 40 (tied for seventh among combine receivers) and jumped 39.5 inches. Best of all, he completed the 3-cone drill in 6.55 seconds, which would have made the top spot overall in Indianapolis. At WOU in 2014, Williams had 56 catches for 950 yards (17 ypc) and eight touchdowns, with one 89-yard reception on the year.
Love Shaq, Baby: One of the most surprising combine snubs of the year, guard Shaq Mason (6-2, 304), had a notable pro day at Georgia Tech. Mason was timed at 4.97 seconds in the 40, which would have made him the fastest offensive lineman at the combine (.01 ahead of Ali Marpet from Hobart). He worked out at center to broaden his appeal (former Pats line coach Dante Scarnecchia took a few snaps, shown in this photo) and benched 225 pounds a respectable 25 times.
A Wynn-Win Situation: Oregon State defensive end Dylan Wynn (6-2, 283) surprised scouts with a relentless turn on the bench press, completing 43 reps. That would have beaten the top mark at the combine by six (see below). Wynn started 44 games in his OSU career, playing all along the defensive line. Had 54 tackles last year (12 for loss), along with an interception and a forced fumble.
COMBINE BESTS (WITH PRO DAY WOULD’VE-BEEN TOP FIVES)
4.28 seconds – J. J. Nelson, UAB WR
4.28 seconds – Corey Grant, Auburn RB
4.28 seconds – Joe Hill, Utah State RB
43 reps – Dylan Wynn, Oregon State DE
37 reps – Ereck Flowers, Miami OT
45.0 inches – Chris Conley, Georgia WR
12 feet, 3 inches – Byron Jones, Connecticut CB
11 feet, 5 inches – Chandler Worth, Troy WR (fourth overall)
6.55 seconds – Tyrell Williams, Western Oregon WR
6.61 seconds – Justin Coleman, Tennessee CB
6.65 seconds – Brian Suite, Utah State FS (fourth overall)
3.82 seconds – Bobby McCain, Memphis CB