We know the act of inviting college football players to the combine falls short of an exact science, but Heavens to Brady, those guys seem to have missed a lot of worthy athletes. Below we’ve listed those who deserve some attention after combine-worthy performances at their pro days. (We posted Part I last month.) Don’t be too surprised to see one or two of them at your favorite team’s training camp this summer.
A special mention here of Gil Brandt’s pro day blog, the most comprehensive breakdown of workouts we could find.
Forty-Yard DaShaun: Some solid work by Tarleton State cornerback DaShaun Phillips (5-11, 182) at his pro day, running a 4.48-second 40. Respectable enough, but Phillips really shone (DaShone?) in other events, including an 11-foot-3 broad jump that would have bested all combine participants this year. He also completed a 3.97-second 20-yard shuttle (eighth overall), 6.65 3-cone (ninth), and a 39-inch vertical (13th). Phillips had 50 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble for the Texans in 2013.
Down In The West Texas Town Of Amarillo, We Fell In Love With Two Pass-Catching Guys: Ah, one last “Breaking Bad” reference. Anyway, West Texas A&M’s Nathan Slaughter (5-9, 184) had a 4.35-second 40, a 44.5-inch vertical and a 6.93-second 3-cone along with 16 lifts on the bench. His teammate Torrence Allen (6-0, 183) ran a 4.44 40, leapt 40 inches and jumped 10-foot-9. Slaughter’s 40 would have been fourth-best at the combine; Allen’s would have tied for 10th among receivers. Slaughter’s vertigo-inducing leap of 44.5 inches would have bested the combine field by 2.5 inches; Allen’s 40-inch effort would have tied for eighth overall. For the Buffaloes, Allen gathered 123 receptions for 1,668 yards (13.6 avg.) and 12 TDs. Slaughter had 50 catches for 516 yards (10.3 avg.) and three scores. As a returner, the speedy Slaughter (Speedy Slaughter = great name for a video game) brought back 23 kickoffs for 830 yards (36.1 avg.) and three touchdowns.
What’s High In The Middle? Patriots fans may feel a little wary about receivers coming out of Ohio University (Taylor Price, anyone?) but Donte Foster (6-1, 188) showed enough athleticism at his pro day to warrant a phone call after the draft. Foster ran the 40 in 4.48 seconds, leapt 42 inches, jumped 10-feet-10, and ran the 3-cone in 6.85 seconds. His vertical would have tied him for best overall at the combine, while his broad jump would have tied him for sixth (coincidentally, both with Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier). Foster made the All-MAC Second Team as a senior, catching 69 passes for 1,018 yards (14.8 average) and seven touchdowns.
Senorise, On My Shoulders, Makes Me Happy: Louisville running back Senorise Perry ran a 4.36 40 at his pro day, along with a 6.90-second 3-cone drill. That 40 time would have qualified him for fourth best overall at the combine. His 3-cone time would have tied him for sixth among combine running backs. Perry missed the latter part of 2012 with a knee injury but came back as a solid contributor his senior year (like they say, the Senorise always comes up… oh, never mind). He rushed for 677 yards (4.8 avg) and six touchdowns while catching 18 passes for 178 yards (9.9 avg) and one TD. He also returned seven kickoffs for a 23.6-yard average.
Just A Baker Looking For Dough: Idaho running back James Baker may have made himself some money at his pro day, as the big back (6-0, 237) ran a 4.55 40 and benched 225 pounds 17 times. Baker carried the bread loaf 143 times for 593 yards (4.1 avg.), cooking up a half-dozen touchdowns along the way (don’t even try to stop me). He also heated up the passing game, rising to the occasion on eight receptions for 177 yards – a tasty 22.1 yards per – decorating the end zone three times. It can be said he caught passes when kneaded (thank you, I’m here all night).
Forbes’ Top 40: Offensive lineman Rico Forbes (6-5, 300) ran a 4.97 40 at Washington State’s pro day and had 31 bench reps. His 40 time would have tied him for fourth among offensive linemen at the combine. That bench number would have come in 15th overall, eighth among offensive linemen. Forbes missed his redshirt junior season with a knee injury but came back in 2013 to help Washington State average 368 yards passing per game under mercurial genius Mike Leach. (By the way: Mercurial Genius? Great DJ name.)
Shuffle Off This Mortal Coyle: Montana’s Brock Coyle (6-1, 235) broke into the linebacker limelight with a noteworthy 40 time of 4.60 seconds at his pro day, along with a 6.74-second 3-cone drill. He also benched 25 reps. That 40 time would have come in third among combine linebackers; the 3-cone would have placed second; his bench press would have tied for eighth. Coyle led the Grizzlies with 125 tackles in 2014, including 13.5 for loss (four sacks). He also had two interceptions and five forced fumbles.
Tech A Chance On Him: Also at Montana’s pro day was outside linebacker Ryan Jones (6-3, 249) out of Montana Tech, who would have placed in the top ten for linebackers in most combine categories. Jones ran a 4.68 40 (10th best among LBs), had a 10-foot broad jump (tied for ninth), a 6.95-second 3-cone (eighth best) and 28 bench presses (tied for third). For the Diggers, Jones had 83 total tackles (8.5 for loss with five sacks) and one interception.
Musical Ute: (Hope you get that reference. And please pass the dutchie.) Karl Williams, a Utah fullback, made some sweet sounds at his pro day, especially considering his formidable size (6-0, 242). His 4.52-second 40 would have come in 14th among combine running backs, while his 21 bench reps would have come in eighth and his 7.03-second 20-yard shuttle would have been ninth. A former walk-on for the Utes, Williams ran the ball 15 times last season for 53 yards (3.4 avg) and one touchdown, and he caught nine passes for 28 yards, including two TDs.
Good Times Never Felt So Good: That’s what Commodores pass-catcher Jonathan Krause (5-11, 187) was singing during Vanderbilt’s pro day after running a 4.37 40. That mark would have tied for fourth overall and would have placed third among combine receivers. Krause also had a 10-8 broad jump (tied for third among receivers) and put up respectable times in the 20-yard shuttle (4.04) and the 3-cone drill (6.94). At Vandy, Krause caught 42 passes for 714 yards (average of 17) and three touchdowns. He also returned punts, albeit with a paltry 3.6-yard average in 2013. (He brought back two punts for TDs as a junior, averaging 11.2 yards per return in 2012.)
La Bella Tavita: A pretty performance from Hawaii defensive end Tavita Woodard (6-3, 250), as he ran a 4.70-second 40 that would have tied for seventh among all combine defensive linemen. He also jumped a 38.5-inch vertical (second among all DLs) and a 9-9 broad jump (tied for 10th), while running a 4.33-second 20-yard shuttle (tied for sixth) and a 7.04 3-cone drill (third). Woodard had 40 tackles for the Warriors, including five for loss. He also intercepted one pass and broke up four others.
La Firm Nikita: Wake Forest nose tackle/basement freezer Nikita Whitlock (5-10, 251) ran a 4.82-second 40 and completed his 3-cone drill in 6.91 seconds. Both noteworthy, but neither compares to his 43 bench presses, which would have come in first at the combine this year (UNC OL Russell Bodine had 42). Whitlock may be a Dan-Klecko-like candidate, trading in his yeoman work on the D-line for yeoman work as a potential fullback, according to Brandt’s blog.
Aaron It Out: Interesting prospect in receiver Aaron Burks (6-3, 203) out of Boise State. He caught our notice with a 40.5-inch vertical leap (which would have tied for fifth overall at the combine), then held our attention with a 10-9 broad jump (third among combine receivers). Burks ran a 4.48 40 and also fared well in the 20-yard shuttle (4.19) and the 3-cone (7.09). The Mustang is coming off a mediocre year (18 catches, 309 yards, three TDs), but he did average 17.2 yards per reception.
Houston, We Have No Problem. Seriously, None: Kudos to Stephen Houston out of Indiana for some impressive numbers at his pro day. The 5-11, 225-pound running back ran a 4.50 40 (which would have tied for 11th among combine ball carriers), leaped 40 inches (third among RBs) and broad-jumped 11 feet (tied for second). He also completed the 20-yard shuttle in 4.23 seconds (10th) and the 3-cone in 7.03 seconds (ninth). Add 24 bench reps (tied for third), and, yeah, we’re interested. Houston averaged 6.7 yards per attempt at Indiana (112 for 753 total). He also had 11 receptions for 113 yards and returned 13 kicks for 283 yards (21.8-yard avg.).
Pats-Related Trivia: This past season, Houston was the first Indiana running back to gain 100-plus yards in consecutive games since BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2003.
Pardon My French: Pro scouts traveled to McGill University up in Montreal to see offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif have a magnifique pro day. A 6-5, 298-pounder, Larry (as he’s called) ran a 4.94-second 40, which would have been fourth-best among combine OLs. He also had 33 bench reps (seventh-best), a 31.5-inch vertical (third-best), a 9-6 broad jump (tied for second), and a 7.30 3-cone (tied for first). He was one of only two Canadian college players invited to the East-West Shrine game and was Canada’s top lineman of 2013. Zoot alors!
The Constant Gardner: The omission of Stanford defensive end Ben Gardner (6-4, 262) from the combine baffled many, so maybe his solid pro-day performance surprised few. Gardner ran a 5.03-second 40, but really stood out in the vertical jump (39.5 inches, second-best among D-linemen) the broad jump (10-2, tied for seventh), and the 3-cone drill (6.98 seconds, third-best among DLs). Gardner made All-PAC-12 First Team after notching 4.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked kick in just nine games.
You Can Dance If You Want To: You can leave your friends behind. Speaking of safety, Brandon Watts played outside linebacker at Georgia Tech, but at 6-2, 225 pounds, he’s built to play strong safety. Watts’ best 40 time was 4.41 seconds, which would have beaten all combine safeties this year. His short shuttle (4.21 seconds) would have placed fifth; his 3-cone drill (6.89) would have come in second; his broad jump (10-2) would have tied for fourth, while his 37.5-inch vertical would have gotten third. Watts was second on the Yellowjackets with 66 tackles, including 2.5 sacks. He also had one interception and one forced fumble.
Bit Torrance: Georgia Southern running back Torrance Hunt, a pixie-like 5-7, 180 pounds, made some magic and came up big on his pro day. His 40 times averaged out to 4.34 seconds, which would have tied for third overall at the combine. He went all Orville and Wilbur on his jumps, notching a a 43-inch vertical and an 11-foot-1 broad jump. That vertical would have bested all combine participants, while the broad jump would have tied for second. He also had 15 bench presses. Hunt transferred to Georgia Southern for his final year of eligibility after graduating from East Carolina. He had 16 rushes for 156 yards (9.8 avg.) and three touchdowns.
A Lot Of Bull: Fullback Ryan Eppes (6-2, 232) got some notice during South Florida’s pro day, running a 4.62 40-yard dash and a 7.16-second 3-cone drill while bench pressing 225 pounds 26 times. That bench would have tied Eppes for second among all combine running backs. Eppes, a blocking and pass-catching fullback for the Bulls, had eight receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown in 2013.
Reedy Set, Go: Diminutive wide receiver Bernard Reedy (5-8, 173) ran a 4.52 40, a 4.07 short shuttle and a 6.84 3-cone drill at Toledo’s pro day. His short shuttle time would have been 11th-best among combine receivers, while his 3-cone would have tied him for 15th best. Reedy had 62 receptions for 840 yards in 2013 (13.5 avg.) and eight TDs. He also returned punts and kicks for the Rockets, averaging 10.8 and 22.3 yards, respectively.
Trojan Breakthrough: USC defensive back Torin Harris (6-0, 189) ran an estimated 4.50 40 at his pro day and came up with a 6.96-second 20-yard shuttle, but he makes our list for his 41-inch vertical and 10-foot-10 broad jump. That vertical would have tied him for fourth best overall at the combine (second among cornerbacks), while his broad jump would have tied for sixth (second among CBs). In 2013, Harris had 30 tackles, one interception and seven pass break-ups.
Any pro day standouts you need to point out to us, let us know in the space below.