Representatives for all 32 NFL teams descended on Austin on Tuesday for the Texas Longhorns Pro Day, giving the handful of players who were at the NFL Combine a chance to do more testing and drills and affording an opportunity for the uninvited players to receive more exposure.
The biggest story emerging from the day was the testing performance of defensive tackle Poona Ford, who stood out during the East-White Shrine game and the Senior Bowl, but was not able to land an invite to the Combine. The snub prompted Bleacher Report to label him the best player not invited.
For his part, Ford wasn’t concerned about not being in Indianapolis.
“I wasn’t really worried about it [not getting a combine invite],” Ford said. “I just used it to my advantage. I had more time to prepare and come out here and just do my thing.”
And so he did.
40: 4.94— Coach BJ Payne (@Americanfbcamp) March 28, 2018
Pro agility: 4.47
3 cone: 7.4
Absolutely killed position drills. As ice cube said......Today was a good day pic.twitter.com/TUr1Nhbheu
A handful of those numbers would have ranked among the top defensive tackles at the Combine, so Ford proved conclusively that his athleticism is an elite trait at the position. His 40 time and pro agility were both extremely impressive numbers considering that he measured at a little over 300 pounds on his 5’11 frame.
And, as former Longhorn Malcom Brown mentioned, Ford’s height actually helps him in some ways:
Love that former Longhorn 1st round DT Malcom Brown was at Pro Day today and said to me “they just don’t get it....his height is only going to help him in the NFL and cause NFL O-linemen fits.” ....I think maybe he has a decent to good grasp on the league ♂️— Coach BJ Payne (@Americanfbcamp) March 28, 2018
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock believes that Ford is a draftable player who will spend a long time in the League. After Tuesday, there’s less reason to doubt that.
Among the uninvited players, cornerback Antwuan Davis also had a good day — he said he put up 28 reps on the bench press and a family member told the Austin American-Statesman that he ran a 4.36 40-yard dash. While the strength numbers were surprising for Davis — no defensive backs did more reps at the Combine this year — his speed was not since he was a track standout in high school in the 100.
On the Longhorn Network, Ahmad Brooks compared Davis to former Longhorn Marcus Wilkins, who didn’t play much at Texas, but then had a long career in the NFL. So even though Davis will almost certainly have to make a roster as an undrafted free agent, there is a roadmap there and NFL teams will find his physical tools intriguing.
“I’m going to shoot for the stars, of course I want to get drafted,” Davis said. “That’s what you want to do, you want to be able to compete at the highest level. Wherever I land, I know I’m going to be a competitor. That’s all I know.”
Fellow defensive back Jason Hall reported an impressed 10’10 broad jump, while linebacker Naashon Hughes has a chance to get drafted, according to Gil Brandt.
Running back Chris Warren III improved on his 40 time from the NFL Combine to run somewhere in the 4.5 range, which could help his cause of playing running back at the next level. No particular surprise here, but he was emphatic about remaining at his preferred position.
Chris Warren III confirmed and made it clear what position he'd prefer to earn an NFL roster spot for at today's UT pro day. #NFLDraft2018 pic.twitter.com/g23InX89Wo— Shawn Clynch (@ShawnC_KVUE) March 28, 2018
“I will play whatever position they [NFL teams] want me to play but I fully, 110% intend on playing running back in the NFL,” he said.
Wide receiver Armanti Foreman unofficially ran a 4.43 40-yard dash and has put his rocky senior season behind him as he attempts to make an NFL roster.
“Everything that I went through at the University of Texas was what it was and I feel like it built me into being who I am today and got me prepared for the next level, the next steps of my life,” Foreman said. “I kind of embrace all of it. I feel like everything that I went through has prepared me (for) where I’m at now. Nobody can really shock me with anything.”
Other participants included wide receiver Lorenzo Joe, former tight end Caleb Bluiett, and punter Michael Dickson, who punted outside in the run.
Linebacker Malik Jefferson improved his vertical to 37 inches and said that he wanted to run through the agility drills since he didn’t test in those areas at the Combine. Unfortunately, Texas doesn’t release the official results and the media was sequestered well away from the timing areas, so it’s not clear how well Jefferson did in those drills. Brooks did say that he thought Jefferson wasn’t quite as good in the position drills as he was at the Combine and another draft analyst also thought he looked kind of stiff through the hips.
For Williams, the day was about going through more offensive line-specific drills than at the Combine. There are still lingering questions about whether he’s a better fit at guard or tackle, but also still a chance that he could sneak into the end of the first round. A writer for the official Dallas Cowboys site came away impressed with his work in drills. Interestingly enough, the New Orleans Saints had him work on shotgun snaps — the athleticism of Williams would make him an intriguing fit at center.
Now the players will continue to stay in contact with NFL teams in preparation for the draft next month. Then the undrafted players will start trying to find their new homes.
Here are pictures from the Pro Day from Texas.