Hey, remember when NFL scouts held a combine, way back in February? Well, inviting hundreds of prospects meant leaving hundreds more without a winter showcase for their skills. College pro days pick up where (and whom) the combine left off, giving the snubbed a chance to shine. In 2018, New England cornerback Keion Crossen provided a successful example, as the Western Carolina product ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at Wake Forest’s pro day and got himself picked by the Patriots in the seventh round.
In order to make the list, our pro day protagonists needed to achieve two top five numbers at the position and/or one top overall combine mark and one top 10 position mark. Many, many snubs showed ’em this year (64 at last count), making this one of our longest columns in a while. Take your time, peruse, bookmark this page, and use it as a referral list as the draft approaches.
Who might NFL teams discover from the post-combine numbers? The possibilities abound.
The best combine performances (and brief explanations of each drill) can be found on the NFL’s helpful website. Speaking of helpful, thank you to WalterFootball.com for compiling many of the pro day times and measurements reported below. Special hat tip also to Herosports.com, who kept a comprehensive list of pro day numbers for FCS and Division 2 players that proved difficult to find otherwise.
To the snubs!
Which Farmer Got More Exposure? This answer to this question on multiple levels is Tanner Farmer (6-4, 315), who showcased his athleticism as an interior offensive lineman during his pro day at Nebraska. Farmer had 39 bench reps, which would have tied for best overall performance at the combine with Weber State’s Iosua Opeta. Farmer’s 9-foot-10 broad jump would have tied for best offensive lineman, while his 32.5-inch vertical would have come in fifth at the position.
Farmer played right guard for the Huskers before switching to center for the last eight games of 2018. Once he made the switch, Nebraska averaged 479 yards of offense per contest. Farmer was voted a Tom Osborne Citizenship Team member from 2016 through 2018 and made the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll in 2017 and 2018.
I Will Name Him George, And I Will Hug Him And Squeeze Him: Kentucky offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei (6-5, 306) got a lot of love at his pro day, with a 4.93-second 40 that would have come in fourth among combine offensive linemen, 31 bench presses that would have tied for fifth OL, plus a 30-inch vertical and 9-foot-1 broad jump that both would have scored in the top 14 at the position. Asafo-Adjei, a team captain for the Wildcats, started 12 games at right tackle in 2018, earning two SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors. Over the past three seasons, Asafo-Adjei helped pave the way for UK’s first thrice-consecutive 1,000-yard rusher (Benny Snell).
Springtime For Hitner: Villanova tackle Brandon Hitner (6-6, 303) showed his preparedness for pro day season with a 9-foot, 7.5-inch broad jump that would have come in fourth for combine offensive linemen and a 32.5-inch vertical that would have tied for fifth. Hitner’s 5.16-second 40 would have tied for 15th best at the position. The tackle played in 28 games over his career, starting all 11 games his junior year.
How Good? How to rate the performance of Elon’s C. J. Toogood (6-2, 293)? Well, his 7.30-second 3-cone drill seems like the place to start, as it beat all combine offensive linemen by over a tenth of a second. His 35-inch vertical would have come in second for O-linemen, while his 4.93-second 40 would have come in fourth. Toogood earned AFCA Second-Team All-America Honors and First-Team All-CAA in 2018. He played left tackle as a senior after spending time at left guard.
Fun Fact: Toogood earned all-conference honors in wrestling at Holly Springs High in North Carolina.
Kiefer? Did You Say Kiefer? No, it’s guard Keaton Sutherland (6-5, 315), who leapt 36 vertical inches at Texas A&M’s pro day, tying the best combine mark for linemen. Sutherland’s 9-foot-6 broad jump would have tied for fifth best OL. Sutherland started as a true freshman at left guard, then switched between both guard positions over his four years with the Aggies. His senior year, A&M’s offense gained 5,590 total yards and featured the SEC’s top rusher (Trayveon Williams).
Mr. Anderson Took The Red Pill: Talk about moving like he’s CGI. The New England Patriots tend to gravitate toward linemen with quick feet, which means that Calvin Anderson (6-4, 292) probably popped up on their radar. Texas’ left tackle ran a 7.20-second 3-cone drill that would have bested all offensive linemen at the combine; his 4.45-second 20-yard shuttle would have come in second. The long-armed Longhorn also would have come in sixth with 30 bench presses. Anderson started all 14 games last season, getting named Honorable Mention All-Big 12 as a graduate transfer student from Rice, where he earned All-Conference USA honors twice.
Fun Fact: According to his Texas player page, Anderson, a mathematical economics major, can solve a Rubik’s cube behind his back.
Today Was A Good Davis: Nice workout from center Tyler Davis (6-1, 279) of The Citadel, as his 4.98-second 40 and 32.5-inch vertical both would have ranked top five for combine offensive linemen. His 28 bench reps and 4.60-second 20-yard shuttle both would have earned top 10. Davis started at center for two years and had experience at right guard.
Jumping Jack: I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at a Jackrabbit showing off his jumping ability. Guard Tiano Pupungatoa (6-5, 310) powered through a 9-foot-8 broad jump at South Dakota State’s pro day that would have tied for third best combine offensive lineman, while his 32.5-inch vertical would have tied for fifth. He would have tied for sixth-best OL with 29 bench reps. Pupungatoa switched from defense to offense his sophomore year in 2016, making 25 consecutive starts at left guard before getting injured as a junior. This year, Pupungatoa helped the Jacks go 2-1 in the FCS playoffs, losing to eventual champion North Dakota State in the semifinals.
Glass Half Full: Positive outlook for Byron Glass (6-2, 293) out of Austin Peay, as his 4.51-second 20-yard shuttle would have come in third among combine offensive linemen. Both his 31 bench reps and 4.97-second 40 would have come in fifth. Glass made Second-Team All-Ohio Valley Conference as a center in 2018. He started 44 consecutive games for the Governors, a school record. Speaking of records, APSU set school marks in 2018 for points and touchdowns scored, as well as yards per game.
You’re Living In Your Own Brian Idaho: Don’t go on the patio. Nice leg work from Idaho State’s Brian Fineanganofo (6-6, 295), whose 33-inch vertical and 9-foot-7 broad jump both would have come in fourth for combine offensive linemen. Fineanganofo’s 5.05-second 40 and 29 bench reps both would have come in sixth. This past season as a left tackle he earned Second-Team Phil Steele FCS All-American honors and an invitation to the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl.
So Many Layers. Such A Laird Performance: Cal running back Patrick Laird (6-0, 200) put up some astounding numbers at his school’s pro day, including a slippery 3.96-second 20-yard shuttle that would have come in first among all combine performers. Laird’s 6.84-second 3-cone would have placed second for combine running backs, while his 11.36-second 60-yard shuttle would have beaten all rushers and come in third overall. His 4.56 40 would have been 11th for backs. Laird, who got an invitation to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl but could not participate due to injury, rushed for 2,153 yards and 14 touchdowns in his career. Last season, he ran 223 times for 961 yards (4.3 avg.) and five touchdowns, also catching 51 passes for 288 yards and four TDs.
Fun Fact: Laird’s love of reading compelled him to start the “Walk On Then Run” summer reading challenge that provides tickets to Cal athletic events for young fans who excel in the program.
“Hush, Hush, Keep It Down Now,” Voices Khari: A certain Vanderbilt running back did not heed his own advice, as Khari Blasingame’s 10-foot-11 broad jump would have proven best among combine running backs, while his 38-inch vertical leap would have come in fourth at the position. In 2018, Khari (6-1, 233) rushed 96 times for 401 yards and five touchdowns, with 28 catches for 320 yards and a TD. A high school safety, Khari had 13 tackles for the Commodores as a freshman linebacker before switching to halfback/special teamer by his sophomore year.
This Guy’s A Little Buff: Running back Kyle Evans (5-6, 180) of Colorado had a 6.93-second 3-cone that would have been the second-fastest time for combine running backs. His 4.17-second 20-yard shuttle (third), 26 bench reps (tied, third), 36.5-inch vertical (tied, fifth) and 4.50 40 (ninth) all would have made top 10 for the position. As a Buffalo, Evans gained 201 yards and three touchdowns on 69 rushes (nice), with 63 yards and one TD on five receptions in 2018. He also returned six kickoffs for 135 yards (22.5 avg.). Nice video of Evans doing a bit of everything here.
Brooks Was Here: Running back Tony Brooks-James (5-9, 180) got busy living at Oregon’s pro day, putting up multiple numbers that would have blended in well among combine ball carriers. Brooks-James’ 4.45 40 (tied, second), 4.17 20-yard shuttle (third), and 10-foot-7 broad jump (tied, fourth) all made top five, while his 7.2 3-cone would have come in 10th at the position. Last season, Brooks-James rushed 57 times for 306 yards (5.4 avg.) and four touchdowns while catching three passes for 73 yards (24.3 avg.). He also led the Ducks with 21 kick returns for 548 yards, a notable 26.1 yard average that got him onto Phil Steele’s Pac-12 All-Conference Third Team as a returner.
Hall Aflame: Looks like Pittsburgh running back Darrin Hall (5-11, 217) used his snub to stoke his fire, as his 6.72-second 3-cone would have come in first among combine backs, his estimated 4.44-second 40 would have made him the second-fastest RB, and his 27 bench reps would have tied for second at the position. Hall made All-ACC Third Team after carrying the ball 153 times for 1,144 yards (7.5-yard average that broke Tony Dorsett’s 1975 record of 6.6) and 10 touchdowns last season, also catching 15 passes for 66 yards.
The Whyte Time Is Now: Great sense of the moment from Florida Atlantic’s Kerrith Whyte, Jr. (5-10, 197) as the running back torched a 4.36 40 and exploded for a 42-inch vertical. Both marks would have come in first for combine backs, with that jump tying for fifth overall. Whyte had 134 carries for 866 yards (6.5 avg.) and eight touchdowns, with 10 catches for 160 yards and two TDs. As a kick returner, Whyte brought back 19 for 545 yards (28.7 avg.), including a 100-yarder for a TD.
Fun Fact: Whyte’s kickoff return for a score was the first in FAU’s history. You can watch a blurry, field-level version of it on YouTube.
One Order Of Holland Days To Go: Kennesaw State running back/returner Darnell Holland (5-10, 175) had his pro day covered when he ran a 4.38 40, better than all combine running backs and a top-10 time overall. His 37.5-inch vertical would have made the top four mark for backs, while his 7.09 3-cone would have qualified for top eight at the position. Holland led the Owls with 949 yards rushing in only 80 attempts, a what’s-that-now? 11.9-yard average. He scored nine touchdowns running the ball and two catching it, with nine receptions for 182 yards (another habba-wha? average of 20.2 yards per catch). Holland also returned kicks, bringing back 13 for 437 yards and a touchdown (a ya-wha-hunh? 33.6-yard average).
Fun highlight reel of Holland here. Also, I may have just used up all my shocked interjections, which is too bad, considering…
I’m Okay, You’re Oh, Qua: Georgia Tech running back Qua (kway) Searcy (5-11, 175) came up big at his pro day, putting up a 60-yard shuttle time of 11.63 seconds that would have bested all combine running backs. Searcy also ran a 6.97 3-cone, good enough for third back at Indy. His broad jump (10-foot-1) and vertical (35 inches) would have both earned top 10 scores for RBs. Much like Holland, Searcy did some special stuff in 2018, carrying the ball 35 times for 349 yards (10.0 avg.) and three touchdowns, and catching nine passes for 247 yards (27.4 average) and one touchdown. Another fun highlight reel for Searcy here.
No Doubting Thomas: Running back Johnathan Thomas (5-11, 217) out of Penn State ran a 4.40-second 40 that would have tied for best combine time at his position. Add a 39.5-inch vertical (tied, second running back) and a 10-foot-8 broad jump (fourth RB) and Mr. Thomas had himself a day. A career special teamer, Thomas had only seven rushes this season, gaining 87 yards and scoring a touchdown to finish the year with a 12.4-yard average. He also returned three kicks, one for 94 yards. Thomas shared the Bob Mitinger Award for character with safety Nick Scott (mentioned below).
Fun Fact: Mitinger, a two-way player at Penn State, played linebacker for the San Diego Chargers on the 1963 team that beat the Boston Patriots for the AFL Championship. So, for New England fans, not all that fun a fact.
Funner Fact: Thomas played his high school ball at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts. He once returned an interception 107 yards, a wacky-looking play that would deserve cynicism if it appeared in a movie. (Video here.)
It’s Not Crockett Science: Well, it is worth studying, at least, as Missouri’s Damarea Crockett (5-11, 226) sped through a 4.40-second 40 that would have tied him for best combine running back and jumped a 37-inch vertical that would have tied for top four RB. At Mizzou, Crockett rushed 12 times for 147 yards (4.8 avg.) and seven touchdowns in 2018, while hauling in 12 passes for 88 yards and one TD.
The Princeton And The Popper: Running back Charlie Volker (6-0, 220) of Princeton put up some expectation-bursting numbers at his pro day, as his 6.87-second 3-cone would have come in first among combine backs. His 4.25-second 20-yard shuttle and 4.48-second 40 would have both come in fifth at the position. Volker made First-Team All-Ivy in 2018 after compiling 675 yards and 14 touchdowns on 97 totes (7.0 avg.). Volker also scored 14 TDs as a junior.
Fun Fact: Under the personal section on Volker’s player page, it says he “enjoys sports.” Good. Good for him.
Ty One On: Running back Ty Johnson (5-10, 212) had reason to celebrate at Maryland’s pro day, speeding through a 4.41-second 40 and putting up 27 bench reps. Both of those numbers would have put him in second place for combine rushers. Johnson carried the ball for 506 yards on 66 rushes in 2018, good for a 7.7-yard average, with three touchdowns. He earned an even more impressive average on his kickoff returns, maintaining a 27.2-yard mark (14 for 381 yards), and returning a 98-yarder for a TD at Michigan.
Wake Up Aggie I Think I’ve Got Something To Say To You: Welcome to the list, Utah State running back Justen Hervey (5-10, 210). Hervey ran a 4.46 40 that would have come in third for combine running backs. His 38-inch vertical would have come in fourth for backs, while his 10-foot-6 broad jump would have tied for fifth. Hervey had 31 carries for 122 yards and one touchdown last year for the Aggies, adding two catches for 19 yards.
A lot of Utah State’s carries went to Hervey’s teammate, a fellow combine snub…
Darwin’s Evolution: Look how far he’s come. All the way from junior college at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M to Utah State, running back Darwin Thompson (5-8, 198) zipped through the 3-cone drill in 6.93 seconds, which would have qualified as the second-quickest time for combine backs. His 39-inch vertical would have come in third, and – just like Hervey above – Thompson’s 10-foot-6 broad jump would have come in fifth. He made Second-Team All-Mountain West after rushing 153 times for 1,044 yards (6.8 avg.) and 14 touchdowns, also snaring 23 passes for 351 yards (15.3 avg.) and two TDs.
He Can Brag With Friends, Or He Can… Quite the pro day for Lehigh running back Dominick Bragalone (5-11, 230), whose 4.44-second 40, 33 bench reps, and 6.95 3-cone all would have come in second for combine backs. Meanwhile, his 4.24 20-yard shuttle would have come in fourth and his 10-foot-2 broad jump would have placed eighth. As a senior, Bragalone made First Team All-Patriot League for the fourth year in a row, rushing for 757 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had four receptions. In 2017, he scored 22 touchdowns (18 rushing, four receiving).
Ongoing Battle: The fight to get noticed continues for running back Cedric Battle (5-10, 180), as the Central Arkansas alum ran a 6.75 3-cone that would have come in first among all combine backs. Battle’s 4.15 20-yard shuttle would have come in second at the position, while his 4.51 40 would have placed ninth. Last season, Battle returned 26 kicks for 579 yards (22.3 avg.). He carried the ball 40 times for 196 yards (4.9 avg.) and caught 17 passes for 178 yards (10.5 avg.) and three touchdowns. He also completed one pass for eight yards. Battle had one punt return in 2017 for 39 yards.
Jordan In The Clutch: Gutsy showing by running back Jordan Gowins (5-11, 230) at Stony Brook’s pro day, as his 4.05-second 20-yard shuttle would have bested all combine backs, while both his 4.43-second 40 and 30 bench reps would have come in second at the position. In 2018, Gowins carried 173 times for 995 yards (5.8 avg.) and eight touchdowns. He caught two passes for nine yards and had one kickoff return for 19. Gowins transferred to Stony Brook after playing his freshman year at Boston College (15 runs for 43 yards).
If I Had A Nicholls: One of the best ways to respond to a snub? Show your speed. Receiver Damion Jeanpiere (6-1, 185) out of Nicholls ran a 4.25 40 and a 6.41-second 3-cone drill, both of which would have bested all combine participants. Jeanpiere caught 44 passes for 850 yards (19.3 avg.) and three touchdowns. He also earned All-Southland Second-Team Honors as a punt returner (12 for 82).
Fun Fact: Jeanpiere was named Southland Conference Player of the Week after his five-catch, 174-yard performance at Texas A&M.
It’s Not Easy Being Green: But it helps if you excel at North Texas’ pro day. Pass-catcher Jalen Guyton (6-1, 212) put up top-five combine receiver times in the 20-yard shuttle (4.09, fourth), and the 40 (4.35, fifth), plus a top-six 3-cone (6.90). Guyton had 54 receptions for 805 yards and six scores last season, wrapping up his Mean Green career in December with a four-catch, 103-yard, one TD performance in the New Mexico Bowl.
Winner With Andre: Sacramento State pass-catcher Andre Lindsey (6-3, 190) ran a 6.74 3-cone that would have bested all combine receivers, as well as a 4.13 20-yard shuttle that would have tied for fourth best. Lindsey’s 4.41-second 40 would have tied for eighth-best WR. The Hornet caught the ball 13 times for 270 yards (20.8 avg.) and one touchdown; he also ran the ball three times for 68 yards (22.7 avg.).
My Cruisin’ Vinny: One way to stick out like a sore thumb around here? Top all combine participants at your position. Vinny Grasso (5-7, 175) did just that, as the Monmouth product’s 4.01-second 20-yard shuttle would have been the best among receivers, third best overall. Grasso’s 6.80 3-cone would have tied for third receiver, while his 21 bench reps would have tied for fourth. Though small in stature, Grasso took on a lot of work for the Hawks. He hauled in 30 passes for 360 yards (12.0 avg.) and three touchdowns, rushed 17 times for 185 yards (10.9 avg.) and one score, returned 25 punts for 265 yards (10.6 avg.) and 21 kicks for 404 yards (19.2 avg.), and even completed his one pass attempt for 24 yards.
In The Za-a-a-allow, We’re Far From The Zallow Now: Youngstown State track star Chad Zallow (5-10, 175) went to the Penguins’ pro day and put up a doozy of a 40 time, an unofficial 4.25 seconds that would have bested all combine participants by almost half a second. The Horizon League Indoor Champion in the 60-meter hurdles and both the 60- and 200-meter dashes, Zallow also submitted a 39-inch vertical that would have come in sixth among combine receivers. About as raw as a plate of sashimi, Zallow could provide a camp body for teams looking to air it out this summer.
Maine Man: A tight end needs quick feet to get open, so Maine’s Drew Belcher (6-3, 250) got stepping, delivering a 7.05 3-cone and a 4.22 20-yard shuttle that both would have come in third for tight ends. His 10-foot broad jump would have tied for fifth, while his 4.68 40 would have come in seventh at the position. For the Black Bears, Belcher caught 31 passes for 224 yards. He was named a UMaine Scholar-Athlete Gold Medalist.
Fun Fact: Belcher went to Maine as a quarterback recruit after having won the 2012 Division 2 Player of the Year at Reading (MA) Memorial High. He played QB for two years at Maine, passing for 1,468 yards, before converting to tight end as a redshirt junior in 2017. He completed all four of his passing attempts last season for 61 yards and two TDs.
Check Out This Pro Day, Justin Case: Nice showing by Mississippi State tight end Justin Johnson (6-3, 235), who submitted a trio of top five combine performances for the position. Johnson ran a 4.56 40 (tied, second TE), benched 22 reps (tied, second), and traveled 10 feet in the broad jump (tied, fifth). Last season, Johnson hauled in 17 passes for 238 yards (14.0 avg.) and one touchdown.
Fun Fact: Numerous scouting publications ranked Johnson as the number one high school receiver in Alabama.
Nissen Made Some Bread: Tight end Elias Nissen (6-4, 243) may have earned himself a future NFL paycheck, as he represented Northern Iowa quite well on his pro day. His 23 bench reps would have come in second for tight ends, while both his 4.62 40 and 7.05 3-cone would have come in third. Nissen caught 12 balls for 154 yards (12.83 avg.) and two touchdowns. A career blocking tight end and special-teamer, Nissen also had a 10-yard kick return.
A Little Pick-Me-Up With Creamer: Eastern Kentucky tight end Neiko Creamer (6-3, 220) poured it on at his pro day with a 40-inch vertical that would have out-jumped all combine tight ends. Both his 10-foot-6 broad jump and 7.02 3-cone would have earned second place at the position. His 4.75 40 would have come in 11th. Creamer wrapped up the season with 21 receptions for 245 yards (11.7 avg.), second-best on the team in both categories.
Fun Fact: The EKU mascot is the Colonel, which I suppose is a step up from the Famous Bowl.™
Funner Fact: Neiko’s father is Andre Creamer, who played cornerback and returner for the Tennessee Volunteers in the early 1990s.
The Rad Hatter: Tight end Donald Parham (6-7, 241) out of Stetson wore one hat as a leaper with a 10-foot-five broad jump and a 38.5 vertical, coming in a would-be second in both events for combine TEs. He donned another cap as a sprinter and ran a 4.65-second 40 that came in a hypothetical fifth. Parham gained All-American status at Stetson, an FCS school based in Florida. He led all tight ends nationally in catches per game (9.4) and yards per game (146.6). For the season, he totaled 85 receptions for 1,319 yards (15.5 avg.) and 13 touchdowns.
Fun Fact: The Stetson team nickname is actually the Hatters. There’s a history and everything.
Fancy Drew And The Case Of The Combine Snub: Listen, we all know that athleticism fails to rank in the top 10 concerns New England fans have for their future signal-caller (cue the Tom Brady combine video!), but Murray State’s Drew Anderson (6-4, 221) deserves a mention for his prowess at pro day. Anderson’s 36.5-inch vertical would have bested all combine QBs by two inches, while his 6.89 3-cone would have placed second and his 10-foot-9 broad jump would have come in fourth. With the Racers, Anderson completed 258 of 429 passes (60 percent) for 2,864 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. He also rushed 82 times for 225 yards and five scores.
Fun Fact: Anderson transferred to Murray State after one season at Buffalo, where he threw for 597 yards and seven TDs vs. Western Michigan, both school records.
Which Farmer Got Slightly Less Exposure? Ah, nothing like a running joke from way, way back at the beginning of this thing. Penn State’s Koa Farmer (6-1, 228) got some of the spotlight, as his 4.48-second 40 would have come in fifth among combine linebackers. Farmer’s 10-foot-4 broad jump would have tied for third linebacker, while his 25 bench reps would have tied for fourth at the position. This past season Farmer had 53 tackles (2.5 for loss), two pass break-ups, and a forced fumble.
Ulysees’ Odyssey: If he’s going to make it in the NFL, Akron linebacker Ulysees Gilbert (6-0, 224) will have plenty of tasks to complete on his journey. He got off to a great start at the Zips’ pro day, leaping a 10-foot-6 broad jump and a 39.5-inch vertical that would have both placed second among combine linebackers. He also ran a reported 4.46-second 40, good enough for fifth. Gilbert made Second-Team All-MAC in 2018 as a strong-side LB, totaling 85 stops (7.5 for loss), with two fumble recoveries and a pass break-up. He returned both of the aforementioned fumbles for touchdowns (at Northwestern and vs. Miami).
Old King Cole Was A Merry Old Soul: And you would be too if you had the pro day of UNC’s Cole Holcomb (6-1, 235). Holcomb would have bested all combine linebackers in both the 3-cone drill (a super-swift 6.77-seconds) and broad jump (11 feet). His 4.48-second 40 would have come in fourth among combine linebackers. Holcomb made All-ACC Second Team, leading the Tarheels with 105 tackles (eight for loss), one sack, four forced fumbles, and four pass break-ups.
I Just Got Into Williams: Murray State linebacker Quincy Williams (5-10, 239) pinged a 6.78-second 3-cone drill that would have made him the quickest among combine linebackers. He jumped a 39-5-inch vertical that would have tied for second linebacker, and ran a 4.52 40 that would have come in sixth. Williams tallied an impressive stat sheet over 11 games last season, with 111 tackles (9.5 for loss), one sack, two interceptions (one returned for a TD), six passes defended, and two forced fumbles. He racked up a notable 17 stops vs. Jacksonville State.
Fun Fact: Given his vertical prowess, it may not surprise you that in 2013 Williams won the Alabama state high-jump championship.
The Battle Of Troy: Combine snubs fight to get noticed, so call linebacker Troy Reeder (6-3, 245) victorious. The Delaware product shazamed a 6.82-second 3-cone drill at his pro day, quicker than all combine linebackers. He popped a 10-foot-4 broad jump and put up 27 bench reps, both of which would have tied for third-best combine LB. He also leapt a 37.5-inch vertical that would have tied for fifth. Reeder racked up 131 tackles last year (in 12 games, by the way), with 13.5 for loss, including 2.5 sacks. He also forced two fumbles, intercepted a pass, and blocked a punt.
Fun Fact: Reeder began his college career at Penn State, where he earned First-Team Freshman All-Big 10 honors in 2015 with 67 tackles (5.5 for loss) and an interception.
Funner Fact: Reeder’s mother Cheryl played basketball at Elizabeth College in Pennsylvania, where she led the team to the 1982 Division 3 national championship.
Sooner Or Later, Your Legs Give Way, You Hit The Ground: As a snub, he had to save it for later, but Oklahoma linebacker-soon-to-be-NFL-safety Curtis Bolton (6-0, 218) would have ranked in the top five for combine safeties in the vertical (38 inches) and 60-yard shuttle (11.55 seconds). He also would have placed top 13 for safeties in the 3-cone (7.18) and top 14 in the 40 (4.53). Bolton could get a long look for his production with the Sooners, as he racked up 139 stops in 14 games last season, including 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and two pass break-ups. He also scored three touchdowns, one defensively (fumble return), two on special teams (blocked punt recovery/return).
Portrait Of The Artis As A Young Man: Another smaller-ish linebacker, Artis Johnson (6-1, 222), did some nice work at his pro day at Marshall, with numbers in the broad jump (10-foot-6) and bench press (29) that both would have come in third for combine ‘backers. Last year for the Thundering Herd, Johnson had 30 tackles, two fumble recoveries, and one interception.
Magic Micah: Kudos to safety Micah Abernathy for crushing it at Tennessee’s pro day. The 6-0, 195-pounder posted top-three combine scores for safeties in the 20-yard shuttle (4.09 seconds), 3-cone (6.6 seconds), and the broad jump (10-foot-10), adding a top five score for vertical (38.5 inches) and top seven for the 40 (4.45 seconds). Abernathy missed time in 2018 due to injury, but in eight games he totaled 38 tackles (three for loss), one fumble recovery, and one pass break-up.
Fun Fact: As a high school running back at Greater Atlanta Christian School in Georgia, Abernathy rushed for 1,526 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2014.
Better-Than-Average Scott: We’ll call it a great performance from Penn State’s Nick Scott (5-11, 201), whose 41-inch vertical (third) and 10-foot-8 broad jump (fourth) both would have come in top five for safeties at the combine. Scott’s 4.43 40 and 18 bench reps would have both placed sixth. Scott tallied 65 tackles this past season with one sack. He nabbed three interceptions and one fumble; he also blocked a kick at Michigan. Scott shared the aforementioned Bob Mitinger Award with Thomas.
Johnson And Johnson: No more tears for North Alabama safety Chris Johnson (though we’re not sure there were any in the first place), as the 6-3, 200-pound defender crushed two speed events. The Lion roared through a 6.61-second 3-cone drill that would have bested all combine safeties, and he sprinted a 4.42-second 40 that would have tied for fifth-best safety. As a senior in 2018, Johnson had 47 tackles (one for loss), two interceptions, and three pass break-ups. He reached D-2 All-American status as a junior with six interceptions and two sacks.
I Just Want Your Extra Time And Your … Chris: Defensive back Chris Westry (6-4, 199) wasted no time making an impression at Kentucky’s pro day, as the lanky Wildcat sprinted a 4.31-second 40 that would have come in second among combine safeties, third overall. Westry also had a 38-inch vertical that would have come in fifth for safeties. Westry played in all 51 games of his Kentucky career, starting 34 of them. Last season, he had 21 tackles, a sack, and two pass break-ups.
When It’s Time To Relax: One bear stands clear above the rest, and that’s Reid Miller (5-10, 208) of the Montana Grizzlies, who benched 25 reps for the woulda-been top spot among combine safeties. Miller also leapt a 40-inch vertical that would have come in third at the position, while his 7.15 3-cone would have come in 13th. Last season, Miller had 68 tackles, two interceptions, and four passes defended, recovering two fumbles. He transferred to Montana after three seasons at Arkansas, where he mostly played special teams. (Note: Patriots coaching consultant Bret Bielema was Arkansas’ head coach at that time. Coincidence? Yup. Totally. But maybe the coach will put a word in at Foxboro.)
Randle Savage: Too hot to handle, too cold to hold. Rodney Randle (5-10, 186) ran a 4.28-second 40 and a 3.88-second 20-yard shuttle at his pro day, both of which would have marked the fastest combine times for all participants. The Lamar cornerback had a 41-inch vertical that would have tied for third corner and a 10-foot-11 broad jump that would have tied for fifth. Randle made Honorable Mention All-Southland Conference with 70 tackles, one interception, and 12 pass break-ups last year. He returned 11 kickoffs for 214 yards and two punts for 39 yards, coincidentally for a 19.5 average in both.
Whoa-oh, Embry Is The Color Of Your Energy: Cornerback Jalen Embry (5-11, 197) displayed some shades of gold at Northern Illinois’ pro day, running a 20-yard shuttle in 4.07 seconds that would have posted third for combine corners, as well as an 11.38-second 60-yard shuttle that would have come in first at the position, third overall. The Huskies won the MAC Championship in 2018, with Embry playing a notable role. The redshirt senior led the team in pass break-ups with eight. He also had 60 tackles (4.5 for loss). Embry has experience returning kicks (two for 30 yards last year).
Fun Fact: Embry redshirted as a freshman at Iowa in 2014 (Belichick connection alert!) before transferring to Iowa Central CC for one year.
Hey, I Just Met You, And This Is Crazy, But Here’s My Number, So Call Me Maybin: Cornerback Dylan Mabin (6-1, 190) of Fordham ran a 4.41-second 40 at his pro day, the fifth-best time for combine corners. His 38-inch vertical would have tied for 12th. The First-Team All-Patriot League defender and Rams co-captain managed 48 tackles (2.5 for loss), one interception, and 10 pass break-ups despite missing two games due to injury. As a returner, he brought back 18 kicks for 399 yards (22.2 avg.).
Jump Into The Ponder: Cornerback Jermaine Ponder (6-2, 200) leapt toward the limelight on his pro day, as the St. Francis PA product put up an 11-foot-1 broad jump and a 40-inch vertical that would have come in third and fifth, respectively, for combine corners. Ponder’s 15 bench reps would have been ninth among CBs. Last season, Ponder totaled 25 tackles (one for loss), with one interception and a Red-Flash-leading 15 pass break-ups.
Oh What A Taelin Webb We Weave: Southern Utah’s Taelin Webb (5-11, 196) spun himself into the combine snub conversation with his 40-inch vertical and 10-foot-11 broad jump, both fifth-best distances for corners. Webb notched 36 tackles in 2018 (three for loss), with nine pass break-ups for the Thunderbirds.
Fun Fact: Webb played one season of basketball at Cal-State Northridge before switching sports and schools.
Defensive Ends/Edge Rushers
Looking For An Edge? Give This Bell A Ring: Defensive end Quinton Bell (6-4, 220) of Prairie View A&M ran a 4.38 40, skied a 41.5 inch vertical, and leapt an 11-foot-4 broad jump, numbers that would have bested all combine edge defenders. If Bell had gotten an invitation to the combine as a safety, all of those scores would have made top three for the position. Bell made 42 tackles last season (8.5 for loss), with six sacks.
Fun Fact: Bell had 19 receptions for 259 yards and a touchdown as a tight end for PVAMU before switching to defense in 2018. He also ran track as a sprinter. Raw potential alert.
An End To A Means: Playing defensive end wasn’t going to work at the next level for Pittsburgh defender James Folston at 6-3, 233 pounds, so he tested as a linebacker and did quite well for himself. Folston jumped a 40.5-inch vertical and ran a 6.80-second 3-cone, both of which would have topped all linebackers at the combine. His 10-foot-9 broad jump would have earned second-best for linebackers, while his 4.19-second 20-yard shuttle would have come in eighth. Playing at 245 pounds as part of a defensive line rotation, Folston managed 15 tackles and three quarterback hits.
Hendrix Plays The Blues (And Golds): The pro day performance of Pitt’s Dewayne Hendrix (6-4, 265) made some beautiful music to his agent’s ears, as the defensive end ran a 4.68 40 that would have come in second among combine defensive linemen. His 7.15 3-cone would have come in fourth among combine DLs, while his 9-foot-7 broad jump would have tied for eighth. Hendrix had 29 tackles last season (five for loss), with 4.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
Obinna Door Of Opportunity: College defensive end Obinna Iheoma (6-2, 245) made the best of Northwestern Louisiana’s pro day with his 11.65-second 60-yard shuttle, which would have come in fourth among combine linebackers. Iheoma’s 27 bench presses would have tied for third, while his 7.06-second 3-cone would have made eighth LB. The Honorable Mention All-Southland Conference defender had eight sacks in 2018, the second season in a row with that number. He totaled 54 tackles (8.5 for loss), with a forced fumble and a blocked kick.
Carroll, King: I feel the earth move, because it looks like edge defender Dylan Carroll (6-5, 245) looks ready to shake things up. The Grand Valley State pass rusher put up 30 reps in the bench, good enough for second place for combine edges. His 38-inch vertical and 10-foot-5 broad jump would have both come in fourth at the position, while his 4.76 40 would have made top 15. Carroll totaled 47 tackles last year, including 7.0 for loss (1.5 sacks). He also had six QB hits and a pass break-up.
Action Jackson: Central Arkansas’ Eric Jackson (6-1, 259) might look like a ‘tweener, but just plug him in and watch him go. He had a 6.90-second 3-cone that would have come in third for combine edge rushers (fourth for linebackers), as well as a 4.58-second 40 that would have placed fourth (ninth for LBs). His 23 bench reps would have been ninth-best (10th for LBs). Jackson totaled 36 tackles on the year (nine for loss), with three sacks and a forced fumble.
Fun Fact: New England picked Central Arkansas pass-rusher Markell Carter in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. Carter spent the season on the practice squad before the Patriots released him the following year.
Ollie For One, And One For Ollie: Great day for Nicholls State defensive tackle/one-man-avalanche Ronald Ollie (6-2, 292), whose 4.87-second 40-yard dash would have come in second for combine DTs. His 35-inch vertical would have tied for top five among all combine defensive linemen, including defensive ends, while his 9-foot-6 broad jump would have come in sixth. Last season, Ollie had 33 tackles (13.5 for loss), with five sacks. He also had two fumble recoveries and a blocked kick.
Pardon Me, Mack, Is That The Chattanooga Choo-Choo? Chattanooga defensive tackle Isaiah Mack (6-2, 305) ran like a locomotive, posting what would have been the the third-best 40 time for combine tackles in 4.94 seconds. He also performed the second-best 3-cone time among defensive tackles in 7.50 seconds, as well as the third-best vertical jump with a 32.5-inch effort. Mack was voted All-Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year after tallying 11.5 tackles for loss (8.5 sacks) and two forced fumbles.
Fun Fact: Current Patriot pass-rusher Keionta Davis attended Chattanooga. Go Mocs!
Sterling Shines: Looks like defensive tackle Sterling Shippy (6-1, 300) had a combine-level pro day on behalf of Alcorn State, with 32 bench reps that would have tied him for third DL, a 4.82 40 that would have come in fourth, and a 32.5-inch vertical that would have placed eighth. Shippy was named 2018 Second-Team All-American after tallying 38 tackles (a sparkly 14.5 for loss) and eight sacks. He also broke up a pass and forced two fumbles.
Well, dear readers, that’s all for snubs this season. Please take a look below at how well the overlooked matched up with the invitees. Back with a Patriots potential selection preview the week of the NFL draft. Thanks for giving this column a look.
2019 COMBINE: TOP PERFORMANCES vs.Top 2019 Pro Day Numbers
40-YARD DASH: 4.29 seconds (Zedrick Woods, Mississippi S)
4.25 – Damion Jeanpiere, Nicholls WR
BENCH: 39 REPS (Iosua Opeta, Weber State OL)
39 – Tanner Farmer, Nebraska OL
VERTICAL JUMP: 44.0 inches (Juan Thornhill, Viriginia S)
42 – Kerrith Whyte, Jr., Florida A&M RB
BROAD JUMP: 11-foot-9 (Emanuel Hall, Missouri WR)
11-foot-4 – Quinton Bell, Prairie View A&M LB
3-CONE DRILL: 6.45 seconds (David Long, Michigan CB)
6.41 – Damion Jeanpiere, Nicholls WR
20-YARD SHUTTLE: 3.97 seconds (David Long, Michigan CB)
3.88 – Rodney Randle, Lamar CB
60-YARD SHUTTLE: 11.33 seconds (Taylor Rapp, Washington S)
11.36 seconds – Patrick Laird, California RB
Chris Warner has confirmed his addiction to jellybeans. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @cwarn89.