(Throughout the spring, DallasCowboys.com will be providing live reports from NFL Pro Days at college campuses around the country. On Thursday, David Helman was present at TCU, where highly-touted receiver Josh Doctson headlined the Horned Frogs' Pro Day workouts).
FORT WORTH –It's been a bit of a different road for Josh Doctson than the vast majority of highly-coveted draft prospects.
Of course, not every player to catch the eye of NFL scouts was a five-star athlete or a high school All-American. First-round draft picks come from a variety of different paths. Having said that, it's pretty remarkable that Doctson is on the cusp of the first-round as a TCU walk-on who rose from scout team to first-team All-American.
"I just think about still being the walk-on – understanding that I was given an opportunity, and I'm being given another opportunity, hopefully, at the end of April," Doctson said Thursday from TCU's annual Pro Day. "I'm just continuing the things I did to get here and continuing on to the NFL."
Doctson was lightly recruited out of high school and walked on with the Horned Frogs after a short stint at Wyoming. He exploded into the national consciousness with 144 catches for 2,345 yards and 25 total touchdowns in his final two college seasons.
More impressively than that, he did enough to earn unanimous All-America honors in 2015 despite missing the last three games of the season with a broken wrist – an injury that limited his training for the draft for a month after the season.
"The injury he had, now it's fully recovered – I've had doctors tell me that if I had coached another 25 years I'd never see one of those," said TCU coach Gary Patterson. "But everything is good. Going through the Combine, they pull you about every way you can probably be pulled to make sure you're healthy or not."
Doctson said he was 100 percent healthy by the end of January, which put him in an interesting predicament. With the NFL Combine traditionally slated for mid-February, the Mansfield, Texas, native was tasked with rehabbing the injury while preparing for the biggest job interview of his life.
"There wasn't a lot of doubt, but I had to get my wrist back right before anything and then progress back into shape because I hadn't been running in about two months," he said. "And then while I'm getting in shape, I'm preparing for the 40 and all these speed cone drills and all that. It was a long three months, but I've made the most of it."
The 6-2, 202-pound wide out certainly seemed to make the most of the Combine, considering he allowed his 4.50-second 40-yard dash and his 41-inch vertical to stand at the Horned Frogs' Pro Day. Instead, he focused on the wide receiver workout, as he received coaching from Cowboys receivers coach Derek Dooley and Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer.
He wanted to see a little more contact through the catch, so he took me aside and we went to the back end zone for back shoulder fades and high-pointing the ball," Doctson said of Dooley.
The drills caught the eyes of all 32 NFL teams in the building, not to mention TCU alums like Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton – who could use a new receiver after the departure of Marvin Jones in free agency.
"We've obviously got spots open for a receiver, so we'll see what happens," Dalton said.
Doctson still has roughly a month to wait before any NFL club can select him, but his Pro Day only solidified his status as one of the top receivers in this class. It remains to be seen where exactly he'll ply his trade next, but it doesn't look likely to be a lengthy wait to find out.
"He's definitely a first-round pick," said Trevone Boykin, Doctson's college quarterback. "The film, his work ethic – all around he's a great guy and a great player. There's nothing really bad you can say about him."
Finding A Fit
Speaking of Boykin, the TCU quarterback had the unusual distinction of working out at multiple different positions. Boykin was an all-conference quarterback and a Heisman contender for the Horned Frogs, but there's no shortage of doubt about whether his game translates to the NFL.
To that end, Boykin made it clear that he just wants a chance to play – anywhere.
"It's all up in the air right now, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make it to the next level," he said Thursday.
Boykin was 35-of-38 during a throwing workout with his TCU teammates, and he seemed to focus on deep and intermediate passes – no doubt as a response to concerns about his accuracy. When that was finished, he spent time running routes for NFL coaches.
"I'm pretty sure there's some stuff that people wanted to see. I put it all out there just to let them know that I'm all about playing football," he said.
The 22-year-old is also tasked with easing concerns about his arrest in December 2015. Two days before TCU's bowl game, he was arrested for his part in a bar fight in San Antonio, Texas. It's a situation Boykin said he has explained in detail to inquisitive NFL teams.
"I pretty much explained them the full story," he said. "I learned so much from it. I was truly remorseful about the whole situation and how it went down, and I was so happy for the team that they won. But I was so sad to the point that I wasn't out there to celebrate with those guys."
Boykin said he will work out on April 8 at Dallas Day, which is the Cowboys' annual workout for local prospects. Whether the Cowboys prefer him at quarterback or receiver – or both – remains to be seen.
"I'm hoping I get a chance to quarterback," Boykin said. "Today was just another stepping stone for me to go out there and prove I can actually do it."
Other Notable Names: RB Aaron Green, WR Kolby Listenbee, S Derrick Kindred
Possible Cowboys Fits:
Josh Doctson:The 6-2 receiver is arguably the top wide out in the draft, depending on who you talk to. He has impressive speed for a guy his size, not to mention impeccable hands, which make him an enticing option for the Cowboys. With Terrance Williams entering a contract year, Dallas may want to address the future of the position – though he may be long gone by the time the Cowboys pick at No. 34.
Aaron Green:It was somewhat surprising when the 5-11, 203-pound running back wasn't invited to the Combine. He was impressive at the Senior Bowl in January, carrying five times for 34 yards and a touchdown for the victorious South team. Green posted an unofficial 4.58 40-yard dash. If the Cowboys wait until the later rounds to address their running back depth, Green could be there.
Derrick Kindred:Gary Patterson was effusive in his praise of the safety, who played the entire 2015 season with a broken collarbone and still posted 87 tackles and two interceptions – earning first-team All-Big 12 honors in the process. Kindred has speed and coverage skills, and he could be a mid-round addition to the Cowboys' safety depth.
What They Said:
Patterson, on Doctson's strengths: "He's a smart player, he has an unbelievable vertical game and he's become faster and he's become bigger as he's gotten faster – which is what happens if you did the right thing in the weight room and the offseason program. He's done that."
Patterson, on Boykin's versatility:"I stood on a field where he had 100 yards receiving and 100 yards passing in the same ball game. He's not going to be a burner, but he's an inside H. What people don't understand is he was probably our best punt returner."
Boykin, on his abilities as a punt returner:"I wouldn't brag about it. It's something that I didn't normally do on a daily basis, but it is fun being back there."
Boykin, on whether he has answered the off-field questions about him:"I feel like I've answered it as truthfully possible to my knowledge, and what I can get across right now is just about being positive."
Doctson, on whether he thinks he's the best receiver in the draft:"I'm not really paying attention to all that, I'm just working on what I can control. Wherever I land it's a blessing, because two years ago I didn't think I was going to be drafted at all. So I'm not really worried about that, I'm just playing ball."
Green, on proving doubters wrong:"I was very determined. I felt like I had a point to prove, and I felt like I did that. I feel like I'm one of the best backs in the country, and my goal is show that on the field."