Somewhat under the Mountaineer Nation collective radar on March 17th, WVU held it's annual Pro-Day at the Caperton Indoor Facility for the former players who hoped to get picked in next month's NFL Draft. I say 'under the radar' because that was the day WVU faced Clemson in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament and most of our attention was focused on that game.
The event is held to give former players a chance to audition for NFL scouts and coaches. It is run similar to the NFL Combine where players do individual workouts and the perform position drills. The six Mountaineers that were invited to the Combine also participated in the Pro Day to some degree. The event held in Morgantown helps those players who were not invited to the Combine. There were 17 scouts on hand. This was the first time in three years that WVU did not have a QB perform.
Here are some of the highlights of the Pro Day, and the reaction around the NFL in the week following the event.
Noel Devine- At the Combine, Devine elected to only participate in the Bench Press workout (he posted 26 reps) because he was still sore from the ankle he turned at the Senior Bowl. His doctors advised him to wait until the Pro Day to run. Many people were disappointed Devine did not run at the Combine. Many figured that he would have been one of the fastest athletes.
He did run at the Pro Day, and did not disappoint. He was clocked between a 4.26 and a 4.38 in the 40-Yard Dash. That time would have ranked him in 1st or 2nd place at the Combine, depending on which time you take. The difference in times stems from the fact that several scouts took the times with stopwatches by hand. The NFL employs laser timing at the Combine. Either way, the run confirmed what most people believed anyway: Devine is very fast. He also had a 35.5 inch Vertical Leap and ran the 60-Yard Shuttle in 11.3 seconds. He had good hands in the receiving drills, showing scouts that he could be effective catching the ball out of the backfield or in space.
Devine told reporters after the Pro Day that his ankle was still at only 80%. He was seen speaking with a scout from the Atlanta Falcons after the event.
Since then, the Rams have shown interest in Devine. They may consider drafting him late and pairing him with another young RB to replace the aging Stephen Jackson. The Green Bay Packers are also showing interest. He is being compared to Dexter McCluster of the KC Chiefs.
Robert Sands- Sands had the most impressive showing of the Mountaineers at the Combine, impressing NFL teams with his combination of size and speed at the safety position. His showing in the individual workouts were a mixed bag, leading some to venture that Sands may be better suited as an OLB than a S at the NFL level.
At WVU's Pro Day, he chose to stand pat on his workout numbers from the Combine and showcase his skills to scouts in the individual drills. This time, he performed both safety and linebacker drills. The Eagles and Packers ran him through safety drills, while the Bears ran him through linebacker drills. It was noted that he looked stiff in the drills, but his athleticism did stand out in the receiving drills showing the quick feet and speed that NFL teams love.
After the event, Sands was seen speaking to representatives from the Falcons and Vikings. He is now seen as potential backup linebacker, safety, or special teams player. He is now listed as the 3rd best safety in the Draft by Jeff Reynolds at the Sports Xchange.
Jock Sanders- Jock had a great workout doing both the wide receiver and running back drills. He caught the ball well and showed scouts enough quickness that he could be used as pass catcher and return specialist. Teams are looking for him, like Devine, to play a Dexter McCluster type role which he says he can do in his sleep.
JT Thomas- Thomas first gained attention from NFL scouts at the Texas vs. The Nation practices and then had a strong showing at the Combine. He continued to impress at the Pro Day with a strong all-around performance. He improved slightly on his Combine numbers and his athleticism should be enough to get him picked between the 4th and 7th rounds.
Scooter Berry- Berry performed well at the Pro Day, and has private workouts scheduled with the Jets and Giants this week.
Chris Neild- Neild showed well at the Pro Day. Some scouts believe he is of the best run-stuffing D-linemen in the Draft. The projections on Neild vary widely. He is now projected as getting drafted between the 3rd and 7th rounds.
Brandon Hogan- Hogan is still recovering from the ACL tear he suffered in December, so his workouts have been limited. He was at the Pro Day, but dressed in street clothes. He has said in interviews that his goal is to still get drafted, and if that doesn't happen, to land in an NFL Training Camp. Moving from CB to S will help his chances of getting drafted, according to Wes Bunting of the National Football Post.
Eddie Davis- Davis participated in both the DB and WR drills. He ran the 40-Yard Dash in 4.38 seconds.
Will Johnson- Johnson had 26 reps in the Bench Press. His agent, Robert Walker, says that Johnson could play RB, FB, WR, or TE in the NFL.
As the Draft approaches, check back here for more updates about your former Mountaineers.