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Knights in the NFL - Pro Day recap

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Performances surprise everyone but the players themselves.

New Mexico v Rutgers
Agudosi’s leaping is now officially in the hands of NFL scouts
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

In the preview of 2017 Rutgers Pro Day, our view seemed a little TOO optimistic. But with results now in, a few players especially Cioffi, Patton, Agudosi, and Muller reached those stretch goals and surely boosted their stock for at least a shot in an NFL rookie camp.

My initial thoughts were two-fold, 1. The B1G Ten is fast. 2. Where was this on Saturdays?

1. Wow. The Big Ten really might be the fastest conference in america right now?

ESPN had a nice piece describing the Big Ten’s rise from the “plodding old school football” to one of it’s most progressive. After seeing Rutgers get overrun this season and their number one priority being speed, it would have been logical if performances in the 40 yard dash and agility events were uninspiring. It turned out to be the opposite as this year’s players compared quite favorably with RU teams in the last 5 seasons.

2. Are players just in better physical condition due to better training these days or is Rutgers passing game really so bad that these elite athletes produced so poorly statistically?

Probably a little but of both. When Rutgers let Jeremy Cole I was a skeptic, but Chris Ash saying he would not have taken the Rutgers job without Kenny Parker seems like less of a joke every day. He and the tremendous prep by these players for NFL tryouts surely makes them appear physically able to compete at the next level. The advances across the country make the Rutgers situation not unique.

Therefore, having fast receivers, strong linemen, and agile linebackers does not mean success. Football is a team game where everyone on the roster needs to pull their weight and Rutgers was not there this year. With a little more energy from some sustained offense, we should see more results in 2017.

Player by player highlights and how they are trending after Pro Day.

RB: Paul James

James showed the athleticism that made him one of the nation’s best playmakers in 2013 and early 2014. a 4.15 20 yard shuttle would have been first place at this year’s combine among running backs. His 11.19 in the 60 yard shuttle and 6.77 3-cone drill would both have been second. A 4.5 40 is good enough with those other numbers. Defenders from schools like Arkansas and Washington State are not surprised. TRENDING UP.

WR: Carlton Agudosi, Andre Patton, Vance Matthews

Agudosi: We knew he was 6’6, 219 pounds, and had some tremendous kick blocking attempts in his career but a 4.5 40? His vertical jump of 40.5 would have placed 3rd at the combine. His 3 cone drill would have been 9th among wideouts and best among tight ends. I say that because he could be a hybrid like Tim Wright. TRENDING WAY UP.

Matthews: He did not necessarily have a Dwight Clark like day but did run a 4.49 40. When you see the type of measureables the guys above him on the depth chart have, his lack of production becomes less of a concern. 10.1 in the broad jump was solid, but he only measured in at 6’1”. TRENDING EVEN.

Patton: Six feet six? A 4.40 in the 40 yard dash would have placed 3rd among wideouts at the combine. That would be enough with his highlight tape. But his sixty yard shuttle would have been 4th and his 20 yard 7th so there’s an outside chance he gets drafted. TRENDING WAY UP.

OL: JJ Denman, Chris Muller, Derrick Nelson

Denman: His performance starts with one number: 21. Bench pressing 225 pounds 21 times for an average human being is impressive, but checking in at 6’5, 323 pounds J.J. hoped for better. From there it was downhill as he struggled in the agility events. A 23-year old guy that big he could still be getting more athletic but time is running out. TRENDING DOWN.

Muller: On the flip side of JJ, Chris pressed a tremendous 34 reps which would have been second at the NFL combine. A 5.1 40 isn’t bad for a guy 6’5, 315 pounds. He vertical jumped 29 which would have been 7th at the combine and his 9’2 broad jump would have been 5th. Most impressively unless it was a misprint, he would have far and away the best 3 cone time among linemen at 6.78 seconds (best at combine 7.29). He will surely be signed by someone and has an outside chance to be drafted in the 7th round. Four year Power 5 starters don’t grow on trees. TRENDING WAY UP.

Nelson: The two year starter was as steady as always with 26 reps in the bench press. His intelligence, dedication, and leadership already stand out. TRENDING EVEN. Isn’t he always?

LB: Greg Jones, Kaiwan Lewis, Kevin Marquez.

Jones: He looked healthy. The questions going in were #1 how strong he is? 26 reps in the bench press after weighing in at 211 is tremendous. #2 How fast is he? 4.58 40. The agility events were ok, but he has been injured so those would likely go up with more aggressive training as he continues to rehab. TRENDING UP.

Lewis: Despite passable numbers in the jumps, Lewis’s day will surely be viewed as a disappointment for one number 4.8 in the 40 yard dash. For reference, even a linebacker not known for his speed who got caught from behind by an aging tight end, David Harris ran a 4.59. And this was after Kaiwan weighed in at 226 (not heavy), so hopefully his game tape is enough to get a look. TRENDING DOWN.

Marquez: Speed? Check. Strength? Check. A sold showing of 24 reps in the bench press, 10-4 vertical (tied for best in the group), and a 4.58 40 made it a sneakily successful day for the versatile Kevin. TRENDING UP.

DB: Anthony Cioffi, Marcus Parker

Cioffi: Speed! Well he didn’t run as fast as the 4.3s we heard coming from his prep, but a 4.5 in the 40 yard dash is nothing to snarl it. 4.22 in the 20 yard shuttle, 6.9 in the 3 cone, 11.4 in the 60 yard shuttle at 5-11, 205 pounds. He didn’t have a “perfect day” but when coupled with his smoothness in the football drills even those on offense, it will be viewed as a successful day. TRENDING UP.

Parker: Marcus only measured in at 5’9, but a solid 203 pounds. Then other than his 20 yard shuttle which was good, it was a tough day for the well traveled vet. He has shown resiliency before so I wouldn’t count him out just yet. TRENDING EVEN.

What’s next?

Local Pro Days. NFL teams like the Jets and Giants ill host local pro days where some of these top performers could get another chance to impress scouts.

After that, April 27 begins the NFL draft. As soon as the draft concludes, eligible undrafted players can sign free agent contracts.

May 5-8 and possibly May 12-15, NFL teams can hold rookie mini camps.