Auburn, Ala.--For Auburn players Ben Grubbs, David Irons, Kenny Irons, Courtney Taylor, Kody Bliss and Matt Clark, Monday's Pro Day was another chance to show off for NFL scouts before next month's NFL Draft after all performed at the combine. For the rest of the guys in attendance it was the first and perhaps only chance to make some noise for the NFL teams and several players did just that as several stellar performances highlighted Pro Day 2007 on the Plains.
Auburn's top NFL prospect coming into the workout, Grubbs only enhanced his value to the scouts in attendance with a great workout. Measuring in at 6-2 ½, 314, Grubbs ran a time on several watches below 5.0 in the 40-yard dash to easily improve his time from the combine. He also added a 29-inch vertical and an impressive 35 reps on the bench press of 225 pounds to solidify his reputation as one of the top offensive linemen available in the draft. Grubbs says that was his reasoning for deciding to work out again at home.
"I just wanted to do everything once to see if I could improve on my numbers," Grubbs says. "I still worked hard and was still out there busting my butt during training and I wanted to see if anything improved. I think I did well in everything. I improved everything but my pro agility. In everything else my numbers improved."
Grubbs gets loose before throwing up 35 reps in the bench press.
Grubbs was the player who had the most to lose by working out again on Monday but the two players with nothing to lose who did the most to help themselves were linebackers Karibi Dede and Will Herring. Neither had the opportunity to work out at the combine so both had a one-shot deal to make some noise. They did that and more with outstanding workouts as both worked at linebacker and defensive back for pro scouts.
Measuring in at 5-11, 221, Dede ran the fastest 40 time of the day at 4.40 and also added a 35 ½ inch vertical leap, a 10-foot broad jump and 17 reps on the bench. Not far behind, Herring measured in at 6-2 ½, 229 and ran a best time of 4.53 seconds. He added a 35 inch vertical jump and 18 reps on the bench for all all-around good day. Herring says it was important for him to have a good day because it might be his only chance to show what he can do.
"I think it went well," Herring says. "Myself, just like the rest of the guys out here, we've put in a lot of work. A lot of guys got the opportunity in Indianapolis and today. For me and some of the guys, this is our one shot to do something since the playing field. I think it went well. I think I showed what I have been working towards. God blessed me with a beautiful day. I feel great. It felt good running around."
Also helping himself was wide receiver Courtney Taylor. Measuring in at 6-1 ¼, 205, Taylor had a vertical leap of 35 ½ inches, a standing broad jump of 10 feet, seven inches, and had a good day in drills catching passes from former Auburn quarterback Ben Leard. Taylor says while everything went well his first go-around at the combine, he wanted to improve his 40-yard time some and he was able to do that on Monday with a best time of 4.41 seconds.
"I'm satisfied and happy with my day," Taylor says. "I feel like I had a great day. It feels good to be back around the guys and see them doing their job. Basically I wanted to get my 40 right. I had a lot of teams that clocked me in the mid 4.4's but my official time was a 4.5 flat. I wanted to run and show them I'm a 4.4 guy. I wanted to come out today and show that. I did that today. I ran two 4.4's, ran a low 4.4 actually. I'm still amazed by that. That's why you want to do the combine and you do stuff at the combine. You find a lot of guys that like to skip out but you get to improve all your grades."
Everyone had good days as most players turned in personal-best times in many of the drills and also looked good in position drills. Offensive linemen Timmy Duckworth and Jonathan Palmer both improved their stock with good showings. Checking in at 6-2 ½, 303, Duckworth ran a 5.32 in the 40-yard dash, had a vertical of 24 inches and did 19 reps on the bench. Palmer's numbers were even better. Being looked at as a center by most teams, Palmer ran a 5.09 in the 40 and had a vertical of 24 ½ inches. He was unable to lift because of a broken finger on his left hand.
Marquies Gunn had a solid day and helped himself on Monday.
Defensive ends Marquies Gunn and Christopher Browder also increased their value for some NFL team with good workouts on Monday. Checking in at 6-3 5/8, 266, several scouts had Gunn clocked in the 4.6 range while we had a best time of 4.73 for Gunn. Throw in a 31 ½ inch vertical and 26 reps on the bench and Gunn could have moved himself into a late round spot with his day. Browder also looked good at 6-3 1/8, 262 with a time of 4.84, a vertical of 32 inches and 16 reps on the bench.
Running back Tre Smith showed why some NFL team will likely give him a tryout when training camps begin next summer. Measuring in at 5-9, 193, Smith ran a 4.47 in the 40, had a vertical leap of 37 inches to lead the day, and did nine reps on the bench. Along with Kenny Irons, Smith caught the ball well out of the backfield in position drills.
Choosing to take their numbers from the combine and not test again, both Kenny and David Irons did only the position drills on the day. Showing great hands and quickness with the football, Irons showed he belongs as one of the top running backs in the draft. His brother David also had a good day in defensive back drills but didn't catch the ball as well as he would have liked in front of the NFL scouts.
Two former Tigers were also in attendance and had good days in front of the NFL eyes. Linebacker Kevin Sears and defensive back Montae Pitts both worked out with their former teammates on Monday and looked good in drills. Checking in at 6-3 5/8, 244, Sears ran a 4.8 in the 40-yard dash but came back strong with a 31 ½ inch vertical. He added 12 reps on the bench.
One of the fastest players on the team during his time at Auburn, Pitts measured in at 6-0 3/8, 193 and had a 40-yard dash time of 4.42 although he was as fast as 4.38 on some clocks. Adding a 34 inch vertical and nine reps on the bench, Pitts concluded the day with a solid workout in position drills and helped himself with his performance.
Kickers John Vaughn and Matt Clark as well as punters Kody Bliss and Patrick Martyn all kicked well with Bliss having the best day. In punting drills, Bliss has back-to-back kicks of 59 and 55 yards with the hang time on both better than 4.5 seconds. Snapping to them was Herring. A former snapper at Opelika, Herring says he has kept up on his skills just for this day when he could hopefully show his value to a NFL team.
Now the wait is on for the guys as up next is individual workouts by NFL teams. Teams are allowed a small number of invitations for private workouts with the team. Grubbs is likely a candidate for several of those workouts along with the Irons brothers, Taylor and Palmer. The NFL Draft is set for April 28-29 in New York City.