It is nothing new for Alabama to open its football facilities to NFL scouts. One reason for Bama success is that Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban has always been welcoming to the professional scouts, something not lost on those prospects who have an eye to one day being “in the league.” That, of course, is all of them.
All 32 teams will have representatives – scouts, a few general managers, perhaps some coaches – in Tuscaloosa today for the Alabama Pro Day, the time when draft-eligible Bama players go through various drills of strength and speed and skill and, perhaps, interview with representatives of pro teams.
That doesn’t mean that all former Bama players will go through the same drills.
Those who were in the NFL combine in Indianapolis may not repeat some events in Tuscaloosa. Those were running backs Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake; defensive linemen A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed, and D.J. Pettway; center Ryan Kelly; offensive lineman Dominick Jackson; linebacker Reggie Ragland; and cornerback Cyrus Jones.
Those combine invitations are determined in early December, so players who had good bowl games – in the case of Bama and Clemson a bowl game and a national championship game – don’t have those efforts considered for the combine invite.
And it is some of those for whom this Pro Day in the Alabama facilities could be important.
For instance, quarterback Jacob Coker has the size (6-5, 232) and a resume of winning as Southeastern Conference Championship Game MVP and winning quarterback in the national championship game. What he doesn’t have is much experience as a starter. To be sure, he was undefeated, 14-0, in games he started, but it was only for one season.
Coker has been working out with a quarterback trainer, working primarily on speeding up that release. For him, Pro Day is important.
It’s the same for a safety like Geno Matias Smith, linebackers Denzel Devall and Dillon Lee, all starters on the nation’s best college defense, but not invited to the combine.
Wide receiver Richard Mullaney was a nice pickup for Alabama for the national championship season, but has the problem of playing a position where almost every college team has at least one quality wide receiver. Not all of those wide receivers can be invited to the combine, so it is important for Mullaney to have a good Pro Day in Tuscaloosa.
Others who will be participating today include tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith, defensive lineman Darren Lake, fullback Michael Nysewander, cornerback Bradley Sylve, and safety Jabriel Washington.