Every year, when the Texas Longhorns host representatives from nearly every team in the NFL at their testing facilities for measurements, tests of athletic ability, and position drills, it's a final opportunity for draftable players to increase their stock and fringe players to help their cause as they try to live a fading dream.
With mostly solid performances, at the Combine, there wasn't much for Kenny Vaccaro and Marquise Goodwin to do, though Alex Okafor ended up participating in most of the drills in an effort to help push his stock solidly into the second round.
One of those fringe players in 2013 just happened to be a Longhorn legend -- quarterback Vince Young, who has been on campus this spring working out, helping out with recruiting, and keeping his throwing skills sharp.
Vince Young doesn't work out or interview
The expectation entering the Texas Pro Day, at least here, was that Young would work out to show off what needs to be a high level of conditioning to convince the NFL folks in attendance that he's in good enough shape to still compete at that level as a dual-threat quarterback.
Instead, Young opted to only throw and also declined requests for interviews, a move that wasn't highly received by at least one observer, who described it as more Mack Brown coddling.
It was a day to reflect in some ways, seven years after Young participated in his first Pro Day at Texas. Seeing him back in Texas gear and looking like he was at his college weight was nostalgic, especially considering the current state of the Longhorn program. Brown said it was "kind of exciting." It was.
The fact is Vince Young looks good out here throwing today. He should be on a NFL team no doubt. Cld be a starter for some. Looks trim too— RosterWatch (@RosterWatch) March 26, 2013
In terms of his passing, he was as sharp as one would expect going against air, with nearly every pass televised on Longhorn Network. Former defensive coordinator Greg Robinson was there working with LHN and was impressed with Young's footwork, mentioning his work recently with a quarterback coach as helpful in improving those mechanics.
Working through the lower parts of the route tree, there wasn't a ton to see with Young -- those are the easy passes that even middling college quarterbacks should be able to hit nearly every time. But when Young moved up the route tree to the corner routes, he started to show off a little more touch and dropped several nice passes right over the shoulder of his intended receivers, though he did overthrow Luke Poehlmann one of those routes.
In areas in which Young could have helped himself significantly -- in interviews and by testing well athletically -- the Texas legend will have to wait to impress there, but his possible improvement with his footwork was a good sign and he didn't seem to hurt himself with poor accuracy during the televised throwing drills.
Brown called his former star hungry, confident, and grounded on the Longhorn Network towards the end of the coverage on that network, also citing his increased maturity as a message that VY has sent to NFL coaches and general managers about where he is as a player.
When speaking with the media, Brown was even more effusive:
Mack Brown: "Somebody's going to hit the lottery" by signing VY.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) March 26, 2013
Young may still not take another snap in the NFL, but it won't be because of any major failures with his efforts throwing on Tuesday.
Kenny vaccaro talking to a texans scout at Texas pro day twitter.com/cremonski/stat…— Nick Cremona (@cremonski) March 26, 2013
Ricky Williams is here doing the Pro Day show with Longhorn Network. He's really turning into a great pro on the air twitter.com/UT_MackBrown/s…— Mack Brown (@UT_MackBrown) March 26, 2013
Few great players in this group here today! twitter.com/UT_MackBrown/s…— Mack Brown (@UT_MackBrown) March 26, 2013
Mack Brown and Mike Tomlin twitter.com/ESPNwilkerson/…— William Wilkerson (@ESPNwilkerson) March 26, 2013
Good to have our friend Mike Zimmer, D Coord for the Bengals, here today twitter.com/UT_MackBrown/s…— Mack Brown (@UT_MackBrown) March 26, 2013
What a 42 inch VJ looks like with the entire NFL watching @flashgoodwin #UTProDay twitter.com/UT_MannyDiaz/s…— Manny Diaz (@UT_MannyDiaz) March 26, 2013
Catching up w/Gil Brandt & Vince. Gil's a legendary NFL personnel guy & a good friend. He's here for Pro Day every yr twitter.com/UT_MackBrown/s…— Mack Brown (@UT_MackBrown) March 26, 2013
Doing heights & weights now twitter.com/UT_MackBrown/s…— Mack Brown (@UT_MackBrown) March 26, 2013
Just met with all the NFL guys in town and about to start Pro Day. Great turnout of scouts and coaches as always. twitter.com/UT_MackBrown/s…— Mack Brown (@UT_MackBrown) March 26, 2013
The testing results
|Name||Height||Weight||40||Vertical||Broad jump||Short shuttle
Numbers from Twitter, Hookem.com ($), Gil Brandt, and Orangebloods ($). DNP = Did Not Participate
*The 40 times are all unofficial at this time.
Yeah, so that sad-face DJ Monroe moment went down
As expected, the Angleton speedster ripped off an impressive 40 time -- an unofficial 4.25 that scouts will probably adjust up .1 seconds. Brandt had Monroe at 4.38 and 4.40 flat. Still plenty fast
The reported 4.25 time sparked the inevitable #freedjmonroe sad-face moment:
Monroe owns the highest career YPC in Longhorn history at 7.3 (minimum 100 rushes) YPC. That's a full yard over everyone else eligible.— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) March 26, 2013
In losses to OU, West Virginia and TCU, UT's career YPC leader had ZERO combined carries. Against TCU, it was one touch.— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) March 26, 2013
The former players in attendance
As always, a handful of notable people showed up at Moncrief to watch the Longhorns go through their workouts. Former defensive coordinator Greg Robinson was one of them, doing analysis for the Longhorn Network, along with Ricky Williams.
Tony Hills was also there, watching his younger brother, Jeremy. So was Johnathan Gray, getting an early look at what a Pro Day entails several years in advance of his own. And a staple around Texas these days -- Mean Joe Greene, who spoke with the team last fall.
Former players Michael Griffin, Blake Gideon, Aaron Williams, Michael Huff, and Earl Thomas were also there, part of a sizable DBU contingent. The Longhorns may not have as much high-level talent at their Pro Days recently, especially not on the offensive side of the ball, but there is still some pretty incredible recent tradition, especially in producing defensive backs. It's not the real DBU for nothing.
Michael Huff, Michael Griffin, Aaron Williams and Chykie Brown roll up in a Range Rover. Says Duane Akina: "A lotta money in that car"— Trey Scott (@Trey_Scott) March 26, 2013
Star Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles showed up partway through the event and was joined by teammate Derrick Johnson.
Important NFL types
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was in attendance, sparking speculation that the Steelers could be interested in Vaccaro with their 17th pick, though Longhorn network pointed out that speed threat Mike Wallace departed, so there's a chance that Tomlin is there taking a hard look at Goodwin.
The Steelers also put Okafor through linebacker position drills as they attempt to judge whether he could play a 3-4 outside linebacker position, though the film isn't going to help the Pflugerville product there, as he wasn't able to make plays in coverage as a senior. As a result, it's hard to see Okafor making that move.
As evidenced by the picture above, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was also there, with Vaccaro also a potential target for Cincinnati in the first round with safety a pressing need. Yahoo Sports! also lists defensive tackle as a late-round need, so perhaps Brandon Moore was receiving a hard look from Zimmer.
The Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman was also on hand.
The Longhorns will have a player drafted in the first round for the first time since Earl Thomas in 2010, so some of the top-level talent is there for Texas with Vaccaro, Okafor, and Goodwin, but the depth, especially on the offensive side of the ball, just isn't there this year and hasn't been for some time -- a sign of the struggles the program has gone through over the last couple of years.
Odds and ends
-- Vaccaro was planning on running his 40 today, but suffered a little bit of a hip flexor and didn't run on Tuesday after suffering a tweak right before he ran at the Combine. In the position drills, Vaccaro didn't show any ill effects, looking fluid with his hips and explosive out of his breaks.
-- The Brownwood product was worked out by Zimmer during his position drills, which could have been extremely important with the Bengals perhaps deciding between Vaccaro and Florida safety Matt Elam if both are still on the board at no. 21 come April. Vaccaro also admitted on Longhorn Network that while he wouldn't get out of the way of Ricky Williams coming out him in the open field, he might "get rolled up." I would totally get out of the way. Self preservation, yo.
-- Even though Vaccaro didn't have a chance to improve on his Combine 40 time, he did say that he has tested well in workouts:
Kenny Vaccaro was disappointed he didn't run the 40. But said he's run 4.40 during training. He said he would like playing for Cowboys.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) March 26, 2013
-- Luke Poehlmann worked out some at tight end and had decent feet for a player of his size, though he doesn't have the explosiveness to catch on as any type of receiving threat.
-- DeSean Hales helped out Young with a couple of diving catches.
-- It was tough to get a great read on DJ Monroe and his ability catching passes with a rather grainy feed, but he didn't seem to drop any during the televised portions of the workout and made a couple nice adjustments to pull in passes. His relatively slow short shuttle time is evidence of his lack of lateral movement. As the chart above notes, Okafor had a short shuttle time that was quite significantly better than Monroe.
-- Brandon Moore physically looked good, but out of pads it was easy to see the narrow base that has some scouts concerned and didn't look like he had great body control in the position drills, which probably hurt him significantly and could have knocked him out of the late rounds of the draft.
-- Mack Brown said Goodwin had a 44-inch vertical disallowed because he was moving his feet before his leap.
-- After the workout in the Bubble was finished, Goodwin went outside and was running some more routes and catching passes, suggesting that at least one team in attendance wanted to see more of Goodwin before leaving.
-- The Athletic Freak award from an unexpected source is probably Jeremy Hills, who may have cracked the 4.4 mark with an unofficial run that will probably end up more towards the 4.5 range when the official numbers come out, but also threw up 20 reps in the bench press and had a good vertical leap. At best, it may be enough to earn a workout or two, but it's hard to see Hills having a strong chance of making a roster.
-- Oh look, John Chiles was back for the third straight year. There's got to be a cap of three years in a row working out at a Pro Day, right?