Reynoldo Hill Only Surprise At Florida Pro Day

As NFL pro days go on college campuses, this one wasn't exactly what could be termed a bust. Any time you have two potential first rounders on hand and you have one player show enough speed to just about guarantee his draft status, you can't call it a bust.

But this one was close. Very, very close. And considering it was the University of Florida, close becomes a razor thin margin. When the coaches and scouts left the field Wednesday, it was pretty obvious that only three of the 16 Gators who showed up to show their stuff will get drafted although there are several who may get a training camp look and of those, a couple have a shot at sticking if they can prove a few things.

Channing Crowder did nothing to hurt his draft stock with a 4.7 40-yard dash. He showed up at a ripped 245 pounds, the result of serious workouts with a trainer in New Orleans and a steady diet of grilled chicken Caesar salads. Forget what you're hearing that some teams aren't interested in Channing because of character issues. The scouts all know him well and there's not a team with a need at linebacker that doesn't have him either one or two on their board of inside backers. You can also forget all that business that his knees make health a concern. He showed in the agility drills and the way he ran the 40 that those knees are just fine. After the workout Channing was last seen in the company of Jim Bates, the defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers.

Crowder getting coached up by Jim Bates

"I've heard from everybody," said Crowder at lunch Tuesday. "Even the ones that say they're not interested because of character issues or my health have called and keep on calling. All I know is that someone's going to draft me. There are some places I'd like to play because I like the city or I liked the team when I was growing up, but it doesn't matter. I'll go play anywhere. Just draft me and give me a chance."

While there was some discrepancy about his times in the 40 and he didn't catch the football well, Ciatrick Fason didn't hurt his status either. He showed at a lean 209 pounds. Some reports have it that he ran a 4.7, some have it that he ran a 4.6 and Ciatrick says he did a 4.46, 4.49 and 4.52. An old friend NFL assistant confirmed that C4 was in the 4.45 to 4.55 range and that no time is certain because some scouts have quick stopwatch triggers and some are slow. What he did confirm above all else is that C4 is certainly fast enough to play tailback in the NFL and he will go late first to early second round.

Ciatrick Fason and Channing Crowder

"Everybody's telling me that I didn't do anything to hurt myself out there today," said Fason. "Late first round, early second round is what everyone who calls me keeps telling me that I'll go. I'm just ready to play football."

The surprise was Reynoldo Hill who never quite lived up to the hype when he came out of junior college. Hill spent the majority of the 2003 season on the bench while Keiwan Ratliff played the lock down corner and made All-America for the Gators. He had some good moments in 2004 but for the most part, inconsistency was his constant plague and he never showed up big in run support. The first thing that caught the scouts' collective eyes on Wednesday was the speed. He did a 4.35, 4.39 and 4.42 in the cold and on wet grass. Then he did everything well enough that the scouts asked of him in the workout phase to pretty much ensure he'll get plenty of calls for personal workouts. Of course, the one certainty for Hill is speed. Corners with Rey Hill's kind of speed just don't grow on trees, so he will get a chance.

Reynaldo Hill blazes through drills

"I think I showed them I've got enough speed to play," said Hill. "All I really want is for someone to give me a chance. If they do that, I think I can do okay. I'll be hoping and doing a lot of praying that it all works out, but there are a lot of people out here today that say I've got a good chance to get drafted. I don't know which round and don't care. I'm just ready."

Matt Leach kicked the ball well enough to ensure that he will be in at least one training camp with a shot at making some roster. It would have taken a workout of epic proportions to earn a spot in the draft which is traditionally quite unkind to placekickers.

Mo Mitchell showed up at 375, about 25 pounds more than scouts have been telling him he needs to be at to get a shot at being drafted. There was a general disappointment with Mo's weight since he's had two full months to drop from aicraft carrier to battleship size. It's pretty much a given that Mo will get a chance to impress someone in summer camps but the odds that it will be as a draft choice are pretty slim unless he decides to give up wings, root beer and twinkies.

Mo said he had a strained shoulder muscle that limited his bench press and some other activities. Overall he said he was pleased with what he did and that he will let the agents worry about where he'll go in the draft.

"I feel pretty good about it but you never can be satisfied with it," said Mitchell. "The weather kind of shocked me today. With offensive linemen 90 percent of it is film and 10 percent of it is this. They just want to see how you move and you're fluent with it so I thought I was looked pretty fluid and quick. I feel like I'm a good enough player to play at the next level so I have no worries about playing in the NFL."

Corey Bailey did nothing to impress anyone nor did Travis Harris. Both are considered ‘tweeners. Bailey is too slow to be a corner and not really big enough to be a safety at the next level. Harris is too slow to play linebacker and not big enough to make it as a defensive end. The fact that neither Bailey or Harris had particularly earth-moving production during their college careers didn't exactly help.

OJ Small caught everything thrown his way and showed he can run a nice route but like Bailey and Harris, the lack of speed was a major downer. Unlike Harris and Bailey, though, Small will get to show in pro camps this summer if he's a precise enough route runner to get open against NFL corners.

O.J. Small did pretty good despite lack of speed

David Kenner also got some looks probably because he just looks like a NFL tight end at 6-3, 255. He runs very well, too, but his production in college --- or lack of it --- makes him one of the longer shots to even get a shot in a camp this summer. Tight ends who play a mere 164 plays in two years and never catch a pass tend to be overlooked on draft day.

Jon Colon's back not only kept him from running and doing the kind of agility drills that the scouts like to see, but also will secure him a place in grad school and not on some NFL roster.

In terms of talent, that was about it.

"It's a down year for talent for a Florida team," said Bengals assistant Ricky Hunley who coached the defensive line at Florida during the final Steve Spurrier years. "It's a little bit shocking that there's only this much talent on pro day here. It's not at all what you're used to seeing."

He wasn't the only one surprised.

Ricky Hunley

"Really only a couple or three who will get drafted," said Bates. "Not at all what we're accustomed to seeing at the University of Florida. Miami's down, too, so two of the top schools in the country are really down as far as draft prospects."

As pro days go, this one lacked the excitement and the expectation of previous years in Gainesville although Hill's showing at least provided some sort of drama. When the day began, he wasn't on a lot of draft radars. Running a pair of sub-4.4 40s changed that.

With Crowder and Fason almost certain to be gone before the midway point of the second round on day one, Hill at least gives Gator fans a reason to stick around for day two when rounds four through seven are conducted. Not at all what we're used to on pro day at UF but consider what it could have been if Crowder and Fason had decided to stick around for another year of football.

Sad isn't it?

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