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Texas Pro Day preview: Setting the stakes

Former Longhorns are working out Tuesday in hopes of increasing their NFL stock.


After scattering to train and, in the case of safety Kenny Vaccaro, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, and defensive end Alex Okafor, attend the NFL Combine, all the Texas Longhorns who exhausted their eligibility are back in Austin and ready to show off their skills for a host of NFL types who have descended upon Austin.

Last Chance Saloon for Vince Young

Whatever NFL career Vincent Paul Young, Jr. still has before him entering the Texas Pro Day activities, he can define whatever upside there is with a flawless performance that shows athleticism in testing and superlative accuracy in passing drills.

It has a be a show in a testing environment the likes of which Young has never put on, proving that he's been pushing himself with his conditioning and throwing enough with Marquise Goodwin and DJ Monroe to consistently put the ball on the mark.

The intangibles that sunk Young's NFL career -- his perceived and probably real lack of work ethic in the film room, his immaturity -- he won't be able to answer those questions, so the odds of him hurting himself are much higher than the odds are garnering a tryout with a team.

In all likelihood, it will take a much greater miracle than what occurred on 4th and 5 for Young to get another chance to make an NFL roster. After all, moments like 4th and 5 were always the ones that came easily for him. It was the attention to detail and absolute dedication as a student of the game that tended to elude him.

Kenny Vaccaro will be limited in his participation

Generally considered one of the top one or two safeties in the draft, Vaccaro has essentially sewn up his draft projection the first round. Immediately after he ran a disappointing 40 time at The Combine, the thought was that he would need to run at the Texas Pro Day to post a number that seemed more in line with the ability he put on film against two of the fastest players in the draft -- Tavon Austin and Ryan Swope.

But therein lies the real crux of the matter -- if an NFL team might want Vaccaro to run in the 4.5s, why would they not point themselves to the film to see how Vaccaro can do against receivers who timed almost a third of a second faster in the 40 than did Vaccaro?

In fact, that's probably the stance that Vaccaro and his agent will take, so it's hard to imagine Tuesday being an impactful day for Vaccaro in terms of his participation and expectations.

Oak probably needs to test

After missing the NFL Combine workouts due to injury, Alex Okafor probably needs to work out on Tuesday and could help himself with efforts that show off better athleticism than what he has put on film at times, with a strong shuttle showing perhaps convincing a team that he has better short-area quickness than they thought.

However, there probably isn't that much that Okafor can do to prove that he can be a good run defender in the NFL consistently able to anchor and hold his ground.

What can Marquise Goodwin do?

The track at Texas may be extremely fast and Goodwin would have a strong shot on such a surface to surpass his Combine performance in the 40. But, like Vaccaro, he probably doesn't need to at this point, though he may choose to re-do his vertical or run a shuttle.

At this point, he could possibly hurt himself if he doesn't look sharp in drills as a route runner and suffers from drops, but most NFL teams probably have their opinions formed at this point. As always, once the draft comes around, it will simply take one team to fall in love with him.

The high stakes attendees

For the fringe players like DJ Monroe and Brandon Moore, all the physical testing elements will be important, though Monroe will also need to show that he can catch the football. At best, his shot at the NFL is way outside, especially since he hasn't shown the type of lateral quickness and make-you-miss ability required for someone of his size at the next level.

When the 40 time for Monroe comes down, there may even be a last mournful moment that he never truly seemed to be freed.

Moore is the one who really needs strong testing, because he won't really have position drills to go through in the same way that the skill positions player have a chance to show their more football-specific attributes.

The athletic freak award

Every year it seems like the Longhorns have one player who never achieved a great deal of success as a player at Texas but tests off the charts. Years ago, it was guys like Charlie Tanner and Drew Kelson. Recently, tight end Greg Smith, the Extra Blocking Surface, certainly stood out in that regard. Even Blake Gideon tested much better than anticipated last year.

There aren't a lot of likely candidates this year with so few players leaving. Jeremy Hills? Barrett Matthews? Luke Poehlmann? At the least, the day will provide some testing numbers for those players to provide some perspective on their off-field athleticism. A measurement that ever year usually sparks some questions about the lack of translation there.