WACO, Texas – With the NFL Combine in the rearview mirror and the draft still about six weeks 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 columnist Nick Eatman makes a stop at the Pro Day Tour at Baylor in Waco, where 19 different players performed in front of at least one representative of every team in the NFL. There were also a few former Baylor standouts on hand, including Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams, Titans receiver Kendal Wright and Texans defensive end Willie Jefferson.
Top Pick(s): RB Lache Seastrunk, G Cyril Richardson, S Ahmad Dixon, WR Tevin Reese, TE Jordan Najver
Cowboys Representation: College scouting coordinator Chris Hall was the lone full-time scout for the Cowboys, who did have an offensive line consultant in attendance.
Possible Cowboys Fits: Baylor actually has a few players who could fit the Cowboys' mid-round needs. Then again, there aren't many positions on the roster where some kind of need is warranted.
· Safety Ahmad Dixon played Jack Linebacker for three years before making the switch to strong safety last year. Dixon had few problems with the transition, showing his range to cover, along with a willingness to provide run support.
· The Cowboys haven't had track-speed at the receiver position in quite a while, but Tevin Reese fits that description. His problem would be finding roles for him other than a few snaps a game to stretch the defense. He simply wasn't asked to return or cover kicks at Baylor but understands his ticket to an NFL roster will involve special teams.
· Guard Cyril Richardson was once considered a late-first round pick, but he struggled somewhat at the Senior Bowl. His performance Wednesday in Waco was much better. He ran 5.19 in the 40-yard dash and Baylor head coach Art Briles said Richardson's 333 pounds is "where he needs to be." The Cowboys have Ron Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau at guard, and with each passing day, it seems Brian Waters' days with the club seem over as the veteran still needs biceps surgery in order to return next year. Richardson led the Baylor performers on Wednesday with 30 bench-press reps at 225 pounds.
Top Performer: The player who might have helped himself the most was wide receiver Tevin Reese, who is still in the range of the middle rounds. But at 171 pounds, Reese had to show teams he could be a speed demon, and his 4.46 time at the combine didn't do it justice. "That's slow for me," Reese said. "I knew I had to get out here and run faster than that."
And Reese was able to do just that, running in the 4.36 range on his second run. He's not exactly a possession receiver, averaging 19.02 yards per catch in his final three years, which included 142 catches. During the BCS era, Reese currently has the most TD catches of 40 yards or more with 22.
Who Else Stood Out: Seastrunk set a lofty goal for the combine to run below 4.3 but fell way short, running 4.52. He bested that time twice on Wednesday with a time of 4.44, still not as high as he expected. During his first run, Seastrunk could be heard yelling, "My God" as he crossed the finish line, later saying he was just exciting about a run he described as "lightning fast." But he looked ultra-quick in the team drills and although he didn't catch many passes during his career in the Baylor offense, Seastrunk showed nice hands and an ability to slip out of the backfield.
What They Said:
Baylor head coach Art Briles on the success of his program, which has produced 11 draft picks in the last three years, second-most of any Big XII school behind Oklahoma:
"It's big-time because it means we've got good players who have come in and developed into great players and have had the chance to get into the league. That's something where we're not satisfied being second. We want to be first. We want to put more people in the league than anyone in our conference or in the nation. That's what we'll continue to do – recruiting NFL players, without question."
Briles on Lache Seastrunk's confidence, which included a preseason Heisman Trophy prediction in 2013 and running the fastest-ever 40-time at the combine for a running back, although neither came to fruition:
"If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. You like guys who believe in themselves and want the ball and want to make the tackle, or make the kick. They just want to make the play. Lache is just a good example of that. How he tests and how he performs is sometimes not related to what you're looking for. If you judge him just by his testing, it may not correlate to how he can produce. Once you put him on the football field, he's a great producer."
Seastrunk on his overall performance at the Pro Day:
I just had fun. I really didn't look at the numbers. This is my last time here, so I just cherished the moment. I thought it was a good day overall, and we were out here having fun. Hopefully, we impressed the teams out here."
Reese on accomplishing his individual goals he set before the workout:
I improved my 40 a lot. The position drills were outstanding to me, minus one drop. The 40 went down from a 4.46 to a 4.36. I'm happy with that. It lets the scouts know I can run, but I wanted to show I'm not just a speed receiver. I can catch the ball with my hands and get upfield.
Nick Eatman recently published the authorized autobiography for Baylor head coach Art Briles, “Looking Up: My Journey From Tragedy to Triumph”