AUSTIN, Texas – With the NFL Combine in the rearview mirror and the draft still more than 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 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, staff writer Rowan Kavner makes a stop for the Pro Day Tour at Texas in Austin, where most eyes were on defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and wide receiver Mike Davis. There were also a few former Texas standouts on hand, most notably safety Earl Thomas.
Top Pick(s): DE Jackson Jeffcoat, WR Mike Davis, K Anthony Fera, CB Carrington Byndom
Cowboys Representation: College scouting coordinator Chris Hall and national college scout Walter Juliff were both in attendance for the Cowboys.
- Another Dallas native, Mike Davis, could be an option at receiver. He already has a visit planned with the Cowboys in April and knows
Possible Cowboys Fits: The main fit has to be the one whose last name rings a bell around Dallas, particularly considering the Cowboys’ needs on the defensive line. Jackson Jeffcoat’s easily the biggest name among the Texas prospects, and he’s likely the only defensive player from the Longhorns to be drafted in the first few rounds.
- Jeffcoat, who racked up 27.5 sacks at Texas, would fill the Cowboys’ need for a pass rusher. He only participated in position drills Wednesday after excelling at the NFL Combine, where he ranked in the top five of all defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash, the broad jump and the three-cone drill and finished first in the 20-yard shuffle. His goal at the Pro Day was to show scouts he was capable of playing both defensive end and outside linebacker, but it’s the former the Cowboys will be interested in. His display of speed and quickness makes him an intriguing pass-rushing option for the Cowboys, a team his father experienced plenty of success with.
- After those two, we’re talking mostly about late-round picks and undrafted players. One of the Cowboys’ many seventh-round picks could go to cornerback Carrington Byndham, who ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the Pro Day and has some intriguing size at six feet tall. He started 39 games for Texas and returned two of his five picks for touchdowns.
- The Cowboys could still use help on the defensive line, and they could look to the future with defensive tackle Chris Whaley. He’s four months removed from surgery on his knee after suffering a season-ending injury in November, but prior to that he hadn’t missed a game the last three years and had two sacks and a pick before the injury in 2013. The late-round option still wasn’t able to do much but did put up 22 reps on the bench.
Top Performer: The fact that Davis could run after the stress fracture in his foot was probably the best news of the day. He ran a sub-4.5 40-yard dash and demonstrated some good hands during position drills as the primary receiver. There weren’t a ton of standout performers on the day, but that stood out the most.
Who Else Stood Out: Defensive end Reggie Wilson certainly looks the part and helped himself out with 25 reps on the bench and a sub-4,70 40-yard dash. He knows he didn’t have the production of most defensive linemen the scouts are going around looking at, but he just wants the chance for an opportunity.
“That’s all I need,” Wilson said. “I just need someone to get me into camp. If I don’t get drafted, not a big deal. I feel like I’m a guy who’s pretty confident. I feel healthy now, the most healthy I’ve ever felt since like my junior year.”
What They Said:
Jeffcoat on his position drills, dropping in coverage, possibly playing linebacker: "I went out there, showed I was in shape, showed I've been working. We'll see how it goes. The goal was just to show I can move in space and move direction so I can show I can play defensive end and outside linebacker."
"Wherever a coach tells me he wants me to play, I'll do it. It's exciting to see that they want me to play hybrid, an outside linebacker/rush guy. It's fun.”
Jeffcoat on how much is being analyzed:
"It's a job interview. You're interviewing no matter if you're standing warming up or doing a drill, because they're looking at your body language and everything."
Davis on draft day expectations:
“I really don’t know. I’ve been hearing different things. You just never know ‘til that phone rings.”
Byndom on how unique the Pro Day is:
“It’s fun. I think I was a little nervous coming into it, waking up this morning ready to go. But as far as doing your vertical…waiting a little bit, doing your 40, waiting a little bit and doing your other drills, you’ve just got to be ready to go.”
Whaley on moving past his knee injury:
“Just knowing I wasn’t going to be able to play anymore, it kind of crushed me. That’s what the tears were about, knowing I wasn’t going to be able to suit up anymore with my brothers for the last time in my career in Texas. But now, I’m keeping my faith strong about the situation and doing real good.”