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Pro Day Tour: LSU Stars Bounce Back From Injuries

Posted Apr 9, 2014


Baton Rouge, La. – With the NFL Combine in the rearview mirror and the NFL draft still a month away, scouts, coaches and managers around the league have now turned their full 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 or 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 is traveling the next few weeks leading into the draft to see first-hand how some of these players looked in person.

On Wednesday, David Helman visited the Pro Day at LSU, where a bevy of Cowboys coaches and staff were in attendance to see a multitude of star players -- highlighted by wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

Top Pick(s): WR Odell Beckham Jr., WR Jarvis Landry, QB Zach Mettenberger, RB Jeremy Hill, DT Anthony Johnson, DT Ego Ferguson, LB Lamin Barrow, OG Trai Turner.

Cowboys Representation: On the coaching side of things, Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan were on hand. Cowboys Scouting Director Tom Ciskowski and national scout Walter Juliff were also in Baton Rouge.

Possible Cowboys Fits: The Tigers seemed to have several different players who could fit Dallas' draft day designs. It seems doubtful any of the multitude of LSU players who worked out would be the Cowboys' first-round selection, but a number of them could address big needs.

- Ferguson and Johnson aren't LSU's best prospects, but they garner interest simply because of the Cowboys' needs on the defensive line. Both defensive tackles worked out for scouts and coaches at Pro Day and showed some impressive athleticism. Ferguson in particular was able to go through full workouts after an ankle injury hobbled him at the NFL Combine. Neither player is likely to be a high pick, but they both could add depth to the Cowboys' depleted defensive line.

- The Cowboys don't seem to have a glaring need at running back, but Brown paid close attention to Hill's portion of the workouts. Hill finished second in the SEC in rushing last season with 1,404 yards, and he improved his time in the 40-yard dash on Wednesday to 4.52. The Cowboys just drafted Joseph Randle to back up DeMarco Murray, but Hill is a promising mid-round talent, especially considering Murray is entering a contract year.

- Beckham seems to be LSU's consensus best player in this year's draft, and he looked the part. The wideout didn't participate in several activities, having already had a stellar Combine, but he showed impressive speed and route-running abilities during passing drills. His running mate, Jarvis Landry, probably doesn't possess the athleticism required to reach the first round, but he improved his 40-time from the Combine and showed off the hands that made him LSU's leading receiver in 2013. It's unlikely the Cowboys would spend a high pick on a receiver, but either player would be a strong addition behind Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams.

- If Dallas does decide to take a chance on a quarterback, Mettenberger alleviated a lot of concerns about his surgically repaired knee. Mettenberger tore his ACL last Thanksgiving, but he rebounded to go through a full workout of throws for those in attendance on Wednesday. The Georgia native certainly isn't back to playing shape, but it looks like he will be soon.

Top Performer: Mettenberger's accuracy and timing with his receivers wasn't amazing by any means, but that was hardly the story. Four months after having surgery on his torn ACL, he showed off an impressive array of movement -- rolling out, throwing on the run and stepping into his longer throws. He's not the draft's most polished passer, but it doesn't look like teams need to be leery of his injury when considering picking him.

Who Else Stood Out:  Landry is by no means a speed demon when considered to some of the draft's fastest talents, but he said he was ecstatic to improve on his Combine 40 time. The junior ran a disappointing time of 4.77 in Indianapolis, something he attributed to a hamstring problem. On Wednesday he posted an unofficial time of 4.51 and an official time of 4.58.

 

What They Said:

Mettenberger on recovering from knee surgery quickly: "I think people think it's pretty remarkable, at 13 weeks (since surgery) where I'm at. I did a lot of good things today, but sometimes I hold myself to an almost unrealistic standard. I wasn't too pleased with myself and some of those throws today."

Hill on improving his time in the 40-yard dash: "It's a little slower than I'd hoped, but I improved from my Combine time. I'm happy with that."

Beckham on declining to run the 40-yard-dash after posting a 4.44 at the Combine: "I was warming up, and I told my dad that I wanted to run again. He told me there's no point. There was a part of me that wanted to run again just to show that I do have the speed and it wasn't just a one-time thing. It took a lot of me to not run and to just get out there and compete."

LSU coach Les Miles on guard Trai Turner: "I think Trai is one of those guys that doesn't necessarily fit the prototype. He isn't the 6-4, long-armed guy. He is a mentally tough guy that really expects to win on every play. He is a very bright football player. There will be a lot of guys who want a fast, dominant guy. He doesn't necessarily fit the prototype, but they will want Trai."

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