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Knights in the NFL - Rutgers Pro Day Friday

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Snubbed by the combine, several Knights look to show their skills in front of scouts at Friday’s Rutgers Pro Day.

Rutgers v Temple
Greene and Beauharnis improved their draft stock at Pro Day, hopefully this group can too.
Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images

It has been an exciting and successful week for Rutgers sports like wrestling, men’s basketball, baseball AND maybe even ... football?

The Knights of the gridiron will showcase their physical abilities in front of NFL scouts inside the bubble on Friday morning. So who will be participating in RU football’s version of the underwear Olympics?

QB: click here ... just kidding!

Let’s hope pretty soon someone is in this category with a shot at a Sunday paycheck.

RB: Paul James ...

Yes that guy who at times looked like he must have a S on his chest underneath his uniform. His football skills were never in doubt, but his health, overall strength, and top end speed are. He had a disappointing day a year ago so hopefully the second time is a charm. Let’s hope he can deliver like UPS trucks ...

WR: Carlton Agudosi, Andre Patton, Vance Matthews

This is the hardest group to judge over the last two seasons due to lackluster quarterback play. Or was it the other way around? We will find out more tomorrow.

Matthews is hoping for a Dwight Clark-like performance.

Agudosi is hoping to show he is an elite athlete that was never correctly utilized AND is still growing into his imposing frame. Have you heard of this guy Tim Wright who the coaching staff always liked but the fans never saw it at the college level?

Patton could surprise if he shows the athletic prowess that contributed to his highlight reel. The upside never translated into consistency.

OL: JJ Denman, Chris Muller, Derrick Nelson

Lots and lots of tape out there on these guys who are all multi-year starters. All three should interview well and have elite size for their positions so if they can demonstrate better than expected agility, someone may give them a shot.

Muller and Nelson both have the ability to play center in a pro system which NFL teams need in training camp. Kurt Warner was just an “arm” in camp but ended up in Canton.

LB: Greg Jones, Kaiwan Lewis, Kevin Marquez.

Things may have gotten a whole lot more interesting for Marquez in the last 36 hours. Moved from fullback because it was a dying position at RU much like it was in the NFL, all of a sudden fullbacks scored some nice cash in free agency. And he was stuck behind one of the NFL’s best fullbacks on the banks, Michael Burton.

Lewis is back for an encore after he didn’t look fully healthy in 2016.

Jones, if healthy will be one to watch. The film scouts have on him is surely a plus, but how strong and fast is he really? For a few games, he looked like Khaseem Greene Jr. and Greene was drafted in the fourth round. Guys who develop late and take the long road are becoming more common in the NFL as well. Big Snacks anyone?

Parker may be the first name a fan would dismiss on this list but ... had he not come to RU and had one year starring at a lesser program, maybe he would be the attraction at their pro day.

Cioffi went from a fan favorite as a true freshman to maligned in his four year career. Many questioned is he had lost the 4.3 speed that got him to RU in the first place. Then he ran down Jabrill Peppers from behind? If he can show solid times in the agility drills like the 3 cone and shuttle, he could get a look. There’s this coach who is pretty successful that loves Rutgers DBs, you know who I mean.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Rutgers
Cioffi chased down a lot of ball carriers in his career.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Will not participate:

... due to injury: Darius Hamilton, Quanzell Lambert

Like James, Hamilton’s measurables would have been interesting to see because his football skills are unquestioned. He could be a late round pick regardless as a guy with potential to play multiple spots on the line depending on down/distance.

Lambert is a guy who seemed to always get better throughout his career. Beginning as a linebacker he has a versatile skillset that teams on Sundays covet. If healthy I do expect him to go undrafted but catch on in an NFL camp.

... electing not to (notables): Nick Arcidiacono, Justin Goodwin, Isaiah Johnson, Julian Pinnix-Odrick.

Team MVP Pinnix-Odrick is the most notable, especially with his brother in the NFL but his life choice has been covered at length. As Ryan Dunleavy mentioned, this is a newer development as in the recent past most former Knights decided to participate regardless of their desire or expectation to play at the next level.

Johnson never really settled into a role despite the turmoil at his position, but was always a loyal soldier.

Goodwin had a solid career but he and Arcidiacono never became stars in four years on the two deep. They too will go pro in something other than sports. Join the club fellas!

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan
This is Lambert, a defensive end, in coverage against an All-American Tight End, “‘nuff said!”
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers Pro Day flashback: March 2013

In what may go down as the best Pro Day and subsequent draft in school history. Logan Ryan and Khaseem Greene were supposed to be the headliners. Then the cavalry showed up.

Marcus Cooper had an impressive broad jump, vertical leap, and two 40 times in the 4.4s. Brandon Jones had two 4.4 40s also and set the pace in the three cone, 20 yard shuttle, and 60 yard shuttle. Duron Harmon maxed out at a 4.45 after three years of ballhawking. Steve Beauharnis, a 4 year starter crushed the numbers (4.84 40) he put up at the NFL combine with a 4.6 in the 40.

The end result?

Seven Rutgers players were drafted (school record) of the 17 that participated: Ryan (3rd), Harmon (3rd), Greene (4th), Jefferson (7th), Jamison (7th), Beauharnis (7th), and Cooper (7th). Four are still in the NFL, three of which will start somewhere in 2017.

Cincinnati v Rutgers
Cooper was a special teams warrior but it was his pro day performance that vaulted him to a draft pick.
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images