(Editor's Note: Throughout the spring, DallasCowboys.com will continue its NFL draft coverage by looking at various college Pro Days and workouts around the nation. Missouri hosted its annual Pro Day on Thursday, and Missouri Maneater staff writer Garrett Jones was on hand for the event.)
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Fifteen different Missouri prospects participated in Thursday's Mizzou Football Pro Day at the on-campus practice facilities in Columbia. Of these prospects, none shone brighter than projected NFL Draft first-round pick Charles Harris.
Throughout the morning, as players worked their drills, there was consistent chatter, motivational yelling from teammates and loud music blaring. But when Harris commenced his drills, it seemed everything inside came to a standstill.
NFL scouts, proud family members, Missouri coaches and media members alike stopped what they were doing and admired Harris as he improved his workout numbers from February's NFL Combine. The 6-foot-3 Kansas City, Mo., native weighed in at a lean 249 pounds, boasting an impressive frame and certainly looking the part of an elite NFL pass-rushing prospect.
Harris chose not to participate in the 225-pound bench-press repetition drills at Pro Day, electing to stick with the 21 reps he recorded at the Combine. He also did not run the 40-yard dash at Pro Day after running a time of 4.82 seconds in Indianapolis.
If onlookers were disappointed that Harris chose not to participate in the bench press drills, he didn't let them down on the next drill. He wowed the crowd with an impressive 37.5-inch vertical jump, a 5.5-inch improvement from the prior 32-inch jump he had at the Combine.
Harris' strong performance in the vertical and broad jump didn't surprise him. A highly recruited basketball player in his days at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, Harris is well-known for his athleticism.
"I'm an ex-basketball player, so of course I still have bounce," Harris stated confidently. "But at the Combine, my legs just felt a little more dead than usual."
In his most recent NFL mock draft, Will Brinson of CBSSports.com had Dallas selecting Harris with the 28th overall pick in the first round. Ultimately, Harris would be a great fit as a young, standout pass rusher with the Cowboys. The 2016 season saw him record nine sacks, proving that he can thrive in a 4-3 scheme, which the Cowboys have used since 2013.
However, if the Cowboys want a chance to draft Harris, they'll have to hope that he doesn't get snatched up prior to their selection. A slew of notable NFL coaches attended Mizzou Pro Day, likely with the sole intention of scouting Harris.
This contingency included Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebackers coach Joey Porter, outsider linebackers coach and NFL Hall-of-Famer Kevin Greene of the New York Jets and linebackers coach Jim Haslett of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Out of the three, Pittsburgh showed the most interest. Porter worked with Harris individually in a set of drills after he completed his workout.
No matter where he lands, Harris is confident that he will be taken in the first round.
"I feel like first round for sure," he said. "There's no doubt in my game … I feel like I came out here and showed the coaches my speed, that I can get around the corner and can be smooth and fluid while dropping into coverage."
Harris also provided insight into his future plans, now that the NFL Combine is over. He has been working with coach Dan Brandenburg, who is known for his tutelage of NFL defensive stars such as Super Bowl 50 Most Valuable Player Von Miller of the Denver Broncos and Ryan Kerrigan of the Washington Redskins. He also stated that Kerrigan helped him prepare for both the Combine and his Pro Day.
"I got the chance to work with both Dan (Brandenburg) and Ryan (Kerrigan)," Harris said. "Both really good guys. They did a good job of helping get me ready."
Harris also confirmed that he has accepted an invitation to attend the NFL Draft in person, which is scheduled to take place April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
Scherer shows strong recovery
One of the unquestioned defensive leaders for Missouri in the 2016 season was middle linebacker Michael Scherer. After he missed the final five games of the season, his NFL draft prospects were bleak.
Scherer changed all that at Pro Day.
At 6-foot-1, 231 pounds, he impressed in almost every workout. He recorded a 10-foot-2 broad jump, 26 reps on the bench press, and 34 inches on his vertical jump – all of this just four months post-surgery.
"You just wake up every day and try to be a little better than the day before," Scherer said after his workouts. "That got me to here, it got me healthy, and today was a really good day."
Scherer was not invited to the NFL Combine. When compared to linebacker draft prospects who did attend, his 26 bench press reps would rank him second overall.
A strong Pro Day could garner interest from NFL teams searching for linebacker depth once he is fully recovered from his injury.
Pair of Senior Bowl invitees stand out on Pro Day
After playing in the 2017 Senior Bowl, defensive lineman Josh Augusta and defensive back Aarion Penton both continued to validate their draft stocks with impressive Pro Day performances.
Most notable, however, was each of their transitions to NFL-ready size. Penton weighted in at 179 at the Senior Bowl weigh-in, but he checked in at Pro Day at 198 lbs.
The Los Angeles Rams have shown interest in selecting Penton. A speedy secondary player, Penton provides value with quick hands, shown by his four interceptions in the 2016 season.
As for Augusta, he weighed as much as much as 370 pounds during football season. At Pro Day, he weighed in at 347 pounds -- something he said bodes well for his NFL draft prospects. He also showed his speed for his size, running a 4.95-second 40-yard dash.
"I talked to the coaches; they said that they loved the fact that I'm down to 347," Augusta said. "They still want me to lose about 15 more, I can definitely do that. I feel like I'm in good shape."
Augusta's unique skill set and now slimmed-down physique could be an interesting project for the Cowboys to experiment with, and could hold value as a late-round selection to possibly pair with Harris.