DALLAS – With the NFL Scouting Combine wrapped up, scouts, coaches and 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, Bryan Broaddus continues his Pro Day visits at Southern Methodist University.
Top Picks: DE Margus Hunt, LB Ja’Gared Davis, LB Taylor Reed, RB Zach Line, WR Darius Johnson.
Cowboys Representation: The Cowboys had no position coaches in attendance for the workout but coordinator of college scouting Chris Hall, scout Sam Garza and pro scout Henry Sroka were in attendance.
Since June Jones arrived on campus here at SMU, he and his staff have done a much better job of adding talented players to the roster, which in the past wasn’t always the case. Where Jones has had his most success is in taking players that might not fit with other college programs around the state, bringing them in and getting the most out of the skill level that they have. One of the best examples of this is what they have done with defensive end Margus Hunt. Depending on who you visit with, Hunt has drawn the interest of several teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets, who sent coaches in for his workout. Matter of fact, Jets head coach Rex Ryan jumped into the workout and put Hunt, Taylor Reed and Ja’Gared Davis through some linebacker drills.
What is amazing about Hunt is that he came to the Hilltop as a track athlete, but when the program disbanded, Jones brought him over to the football squad with no guarantee that he would even develop. Now there is a chance his name could be called on day one of the NFL Draft, or at the very least in the second round, which is quite an accomplishment for a kid that had very little football background.
Who Stood Out:
For the workout, numbers-wise, receiver Austin Fuller had a vertical jump of 38” and a broad jump of 10’1”. Running back Zach Line ran his 40 in 4.67 at 230 pounds. Defensive tackle Torlan Pittman benched 225, 42 times. Linebacker Taylor Reed ran his 40 in 4.67, but also had an impressive bench of 225, 29 times. Defensive linemen Aaron Davis, who goes by the nickname “Spike,” at 291 pounds ran a 4.75 40 but was 34” in the vertical jump, 10’1” in the broad jump and benched 34 times at 225.
As far as the way the workout went, Hunt stood on all of his Combine numbers, but was put through his drills by the Bengals, Colts and Jets. Physically, he is an impressive player at 6-8, 283, but he has short arms, which is strange for a player of that height. He was measured at 33 3/8”. There are times where you do watch him on tape and he does struggle to disengage from the blocker. His footwork through the bags was solid. He didn’t stumble around or struggle to get through them. When he runs, he doesn’t move his arms and there was several times where Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes directed him to move his arms. He does have a burst off the snap and when Ryan asked him to extend his arms and push off from Ryan, he was able to do so. Ryan worked him out as a linebacker, as mentioned, and like Ales Okafor of Texas yesterday, this really didn’t look like his cup of tea. Ryan took him vertical on the wheel route out of the backfield, then high point catch the ball, which was a big struggle. Hunt gave great effort in trying to drop, change direction and break, but it just wasn’t happening for me. He looked much better with his hand on the ground and coming off the ball.
The Running back Line showed some explosiveness off the snap and was able to redirect without much stiffness. He caught the ball well and competed in the drills well. Linebackers Reed and Davis also competed well with Reed appearing to be able to handle the movement drills better. Neither showed great ball skills, but Ryan throwing the ball looked like Mark Sanchez at times. Davis labored more, but when you studied of the tape, both do a great job of getting to the ball. These players are right at 6’ but with really good power bases under them. Would be really nice to see all of these kids at Dallas Day on April 10.
Possible Cowboys Fits:
Hunt would most like play as a strong defensive end in this scheme. He showed a nice get off and some pass-rush skills, but like his defensive line coach Bert Hill told me, if he goes to a team that will really work with him and coach him instead of just plugging him in and letting him rush on his own, his ceiling is unlimited. Line looks like he could play for a team that uses a one-back runner. You are going to get plenty of straight ahead power runs, but there was a little more movement in his game than I saw on tape.
Davis and Reed are very productive players on tape. Both show the ability to run and hit. Physically they are not going to look great when it comes to the drill work, but as Mike and Will linebackers, they could step in and do well. Would not be one bit surprised to see them make squads and be really good players.
What They Said:
I asked Hill about the development of Hunt from where he started to where he currently is and he told the story about the time in Hunt’s junior year when he was rushing a passer in a game and he busted free for a pressure. As Hunt started toward the quarterback, he stopped and started waving his arms while the play was developing. After the series, Hill asked Hunt what he was doing and Hunt responded that he was told not to hit the quarterback. All through the early fall drills, the defensive linemen were told to stay off the quarterback, so Hunt stopped on his rush and he was just doing what he was told to do. From that point on, Hill coached Hunt to run past the quarterbacks in practice.
Cowboys pro scout Henry Sroka is known in the building for his eye and work with kickers. At the workout today, Sroka had a hand in working out a kicker from Universidad of Nuevo Leon named Jose Carlos Maltos. What is interesting about Maltos is that four years ago, Mustangs head coach June Jones tried to get him in school at SMU but was unsuccessful. As I was standing there watching him warm up, Jones came up to me and said, “You need to keep a close eye on this kid. With the wind, against the wind, it doesn’t matter, he can kick it.” Coach was right, he made several kicks into the wind from the 40- to 45-yard range, then turned around and made one from 55 yards that went through the goal post and hit the back brick wall in the end zone. He was 50 percent from 60 yards and all but one kickoff was in the end zone. Several teams met with Maltos after practice so keep an eye on him as one of those kickers that gets a chance to show his worth this summer in a camp.