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Pro Day Tour: No RG3 But Baylor Seeks To Extend Draft Success
WACO, Texas – With the NFL Combine wrapped up, scouts, coaches and general managers around the league are now turning their attention to college Pro Days to see how future draft picks measure out and test.
For athletes who’d like to have performed better at the Combine and for those who didn’t go to the Combine at all, these individual Pro Days allow college standouts another opportunity to demonstrate what they can bring to the table for a professional club.
The DallasCowboys.com staff will travel around the Dallas area the next few weeks leading into the NFL Draft to see first-hand how some of the local athletes looked in person.
Today, Nick Eatman continued the Pro Day Tour at Baylor in Waco.
Top Picks: WR Terrance Williams, OL Ivory Wade, WR Lanear Sampson, RB Jared Salubi
Cowboys Representation: The Cowboys had two wide receivers coaches on hand, including newly-hired Derek Dooley, the former head coach at Tennessee. Offensive assistant Keith O’Quinn was also in attendance, along with college scout Sam Garza.
Big Issue: Needless to say, there wasn’t the same buzz at this year’s Pro Day in Waco as we saw last year. Maybe the lack of having a Robert Griffin III contributed to that, but as Baylor proved last year, it can be successful without RG3 although it took a little bit. Baylor struggled early in Big XII play and had a 4-5 record before reeling off four straight wins, including a dominant performance against Kansas State and a Holiday Bowl win over UCLA. The Bears got hot at the end of the season for a school-record third straight trip to a bowl game.
Another streak the Bears and head coach Art Briles are hoping for includes first-round draft picks. Last year, Griffin and wide receiver Kendall Wright were selected in the first round. In 2011, Phil Taylor went 21st to the Browns, followed by Danny Watkins (24th overall) to the Eagles. And in 2009, Baylor had the No. 2 overall pick in tackle Jason Smith, who went to the Rams.
So the Bears are no strangers to first-round picks and are hoping wide receiver Terrance Williams can continue the trend this April.
We’ve had some recent success and we just want to keep it going,” Briles said Wednesday. “I think we’ve had some really good players in here the last few years and it’s nice to see they’re getting recognized. There’s no question it helps us as a program when you get players drafted in the first round. And we’re hoping Terrance will be the next one.”
Who Stood Out: The guy who might have looked the best is the one who isn’t even interested in the draft. But quarterback Nick Florence, who has decided not to pursue an NFL career despite breaking some of Griffin’s single-season records last year and leading the nation in total offense, agreed to throw to the receivers in the workout drills. Other than one dropped pass, Florence completed every attempt and had some zip on the ball that raised a few eyebrows among the scouts and coaches in attendance. Still, after the workout, Florence stuck by his decision not to play.
But the guys catching the ball have every intention of taking it to the next level. Williams opted not to run the 40, standing by his hand-held times of 4.4 at the Combine. He was impressive on the field with his route-running and his ability to catch, snagging all of Florence’s passes in his direction. Williams led the nation last year with 1,693 receiving yards and had 12 touchdowns.
His teammate, Lanear Sampson, helped his cause by running 4.35 in the 40, a big improvement from the Combine where he was in the 4.5 range. Sampson also had an impressive workout on the field with a one-handed catch and smooth route-running. His chances of improving from a possible rookie free agent to a late-round pick have increased.
Possible Cowboys Fits: If Williams falls out of the first round and into the second, the Cowboys would possibly be interested. Despite having Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, both have had injury issues. Williams is a possession-like receiver because of his size, but has the speed to get deep. Offensive lineman Ivory Wade can play guard and center and snapped the ball to Florence during the workout. He’s a big-body type who is strong and versatile. He could be an option in the middle rounds.
Sampson is also intriguing as a late-round pick and could give the Cowboys another look at the annual Dallas Day workout at Cowboys Stadium.
What They Said:
Sampson on improving his stock: “I felt like it was a great day. It was a better 40-time and that’s a goal I accomplished today, but I wanted to run good routes and catch the ball. Overall, it’s a good feeling. We’ll see how it helps me in the future.”
Williams on the process being over: “It doesn’t mean I’m done working out. Tomorrow, I’ll come here and get better and get ready for my private workouts. I want those to be perfect.”
Briles on Sampson: “We’ve known that he’s an outstanding player for us for four years. He’s had more starts than any receiver we’ve ever had, with the exception of Kendall Wright. It wasn’t unusual to see him do that well. But I was impressed with the way he came out and worked.”