Pro Days Wrap Up As NFL Draft Grows Closer

Pro Day workouts for NFL teams includes measurements; here scouts get wingspan measure for Texas S Kenny Vaccaro

It was the last full week of Pro Day workouts around the country for the NFL decision makers and prospects for selection in the NFL Draft when it begins on April 25th.

Some of the bigger names in the 2013 draft class worked out on campus last week, with programs like Notre Dame, Texas, Southern Cal, LSU, South Carolina and BYU held testing and timing days.

Now, the league’s attention turns towards final evaluations, personnel meetings, the April 15th medical re-test day in Indianapolis, one-on-one exposure to players and plenty of tall tales and fibs told to others in the league and the media.

Here is some of what they saw in last week’s more popular Pro Days:

Texas/Austin, Texas/Outdoors

On Tuesday, 30 of the league’s 32 teams had over 50 personnel on campus to watch the potential draft choices from the Longhorns, plus a previous UT draftee, QB Vince Young.

Reports are that Young threw the ball well and at least put his name back in front of NFL teams. But the Longhorns that personnel types were watching were S Kenny Vaccaro and DE Alex Okafor. Both players are coming off hip injuries; nothing serious, but it has slowed the players down in their workouts and preparation.

Last week, Vaccaro tweaked his hip in a personal workout for the Dallas Cowboys. He stood on his times and distances from the NFL Combine, put took part in position drills.

“I think a lot of the things I did today, you can see on tape — covering slots, coming out of my breaks, opening my hips,” said Vaccaro. “All that stuff I have on tape, so I think this just backdoors it and reassure the teams.”

Okafor suffered a hip injury during the Senior Bowl and he was unable to run and workout at the NFL Combine. He was able to move in Pro Day drills, especially in the positional drills, where he worked as both an end and tackle in a 4-3 defense and outside linebacker in a 3-4.

“Guys want to see if I can be a 3-4 backer,” said Okafor. “I want to show I can play that position. I’m confident in my athletic ability and I think I can make that switch if I need to. They are looking at me all across the line of scrimmage. I’ve put a lot of things on tape that I’m proud of. It shows my versatility and I’m down to do whatever they ask me to do.”


Louisiana State/Baton Rouge/Indoors

There were over 100 club personnel from NFL teams on the ground and the player everyone wanted to see on Wednesday at LSU Pro Day didn’t play for the Tigers last season. But he did play the year before that, and played quite well. DB Tyrann Mathieu was back with his former teammates after missing last season when he was kicked off the team and out of school because of personal problems largely tied to his drug use.

Mathieu has undergone rehab for his drug and emotional issues and he’s been training in Florida, trying to put himself in position to be selected in April’s NFL Draft. He went through the NFL Combine in February and other than individual team workouts, Pro Day was going to be his last opportunity to show team his athletic skills and personality.

“I think I’m doing a pretty good job with the way I’m carrying myself,” Mathieu said, after he ran through secondary drills for the NFL defensive coaches. “I know I made some mistakes, and I’m ready to join a new team and start over.”

A month out from the draft, Mathieu’s name is mentioned as a third or fourth-round selection. One of his former teammates says an NFL team is going to get a steal if they draft him that late.

“He can definitely fly and somebody is going to take a chance on him and get a great player,” S Eric Reid said.

The star of the Pro Day was DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo, who took part in position drills with his hand on the ground on the line and standing up at linebacker. Observers said he was in remarkable physical condition.

Another LSU player that helped himself was ILB Kevin Minter, who showed he was faster than what he was clocked in at the NFL Combine.

“I had something to prove out here today,” said Minter, who ran a time of 4.67 seconds after recording a 4.81 at Indianapolis. “I’m not a 4.8 guy, and I proved that today. I could still do a little better, but it’s still way better than a 4.8.”

South Carolina/Columbia, S.C./Outdoors

All 32 NFL teams had representatives on campus at South Carolina on Wednesday. Almost to a man, they were all stunned by the performance of a single player – RB Marcus Lattimore.

Back in October in a game against Tennessee, Lattimore suffered a severe knee injury that required surgery to repair the ACL, LCL and PCL. It ended the season for a talent that figured to be a top of the first round selection. Working with Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Florida and alongside Redskins rehabbing QB Robert Griffin, he’s trying to put himself back into position to make a contribution in the 2013 NFL season.

Lattimore did not run or even job during the Pro Day, but he did move around, catch some passes and he participate in some agility drills. When he was done, the scouts, coaches and personnel types gave him an ovation.

“They saw me move a little, were able to see me use my feet and use my knee and that the knee is fine,” Lattimore said. “My goal is to be ready when I’m called on. If that’s week one, that’s fine. If I do have to wait a whole year, that’s fine because I realize that it’s about long term and being able to help the team for a lot of years, and not just two or three years.”

Notre Dame/South Bend, Indiana/Indoors

There were 14 former Notre Dame players taking part in Irish Pro Day on Tuesday, forced indoors by bad weather. There were 27 teams represented, probably the lowest league attendance in many years for a workout day in South Bend.

A lot of attention went to LB Manti Te’o and how much improvement he could show in his speed. Te’o was unhappy with his 4.82-second time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and was determined to show he was faster than that.

This past week, he was timed anywhere from 4.7 to 4.75 seconds on various watches, certainly an improvement and it should solidify his position at the bottom of the first round or top of the second round.

The former Irish player that stood out was TE Tyler Eifert who solidified his spot as a first-round selection. Eifert caught everything thrown his way, and showed very good athletic skills, as well as better strength than most scouts imagined.

Southern Cal/Los Angeles, California/Outdoors

For the first time since suffering a shoulder injury near the end of Southern Cal’s 2012 season, QB Matt Barkley threw the ball with no restrictions on Wednesday at the Trojans practice field.

Written reports from the media from the day tend to paint Barkley as struggling in throwing the ball. We’ve talked to three NFL personnel types who were on campus watching and said Barkley was fine, especially considering he was throwing into a strong wind in most of his throwing drills. One scout said that Barkley settled any questions on how strong his arm is with his throws down the field. Those deep passes were on target.

One other player that helped himself was safety T.J. McDonald. Going into the 2012 season, McDonald was expected to be one of the best defensive players in the country and a high first-round selection. But he had an ordinary season and he’s fallen to second-third round status. He may have improved his standing into the high second round.

8 Responses to “Pro Days Wrap Up As NFL Draft Grows Closer”

  • March 30, 2013  - txchief says:

    Is it just me, or does anyone else have concern that all of these young people are getting tatted-out before they realize the ramifications of disfiguring themselves? I feel sorry for them.

  • March 30, 2013  - ED J says:

    They play football going make millions of dollars that want have an effect on their performance

  • March 30, 2013  - el cid says:

    Brave new world. Or at least a different new world. Our Gladiators are pro players, bread and circuses.

    Good or bad, tatoos like “different” view of the world is here and we are the dinosaurs.

  • March 30, 2013  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Tatts are an ancient way of self expression.

    It says “here I am”. Whatever, whenever, generation, we’ve always had and always will have ways to say “here I am”.

    Then the tombstone that says “here I was”.

    Crap, I’d rather see a tatt on a young kid than a nose burried in a cell phone.

  • March 31, 2013  - el cid says:

    Just wondering, John. Women seem to like tattoos on their waist in the back. Is thst still self expression or reading material, like a magazine in the toilet.

    Not so much a fan of tattoos, they really look bad with age. That tat of a little devil on a 20 year old female looks a lot like a lawn gnome at 40, not so hot.

  • March 31, 2013  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Yo, cid, nor is she.

  • March 31, 2013  - el cid says:

    Sorry John but at 66 that 40 year old is still interesting, sans tattoo of course.

  • March 31, 2013  - txchief says:

    Investment nugget: open a tattoo removal clinic.

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