Jackson and Mincey were among the 12 former Florida Gators working out for scouts from approximately 25 NFL teams at The Swamp. Players were measured and weighed, checked out in the weight room for strength and endurance, and then taken out on the field where they were timed in the 40, run through some agility drills and finally given a chance to do some individual work for the scouts.
Jackson didn't run the 40 Wednesday but he didn't need to. He's already turned in blazing fast times at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago, workouts that pretty much sealed him in as a first rounder. Basically he was there to look good and to run a few routes while C.J. Leak threw him some passes. When it comes to Jackson, the scouts were here in Gainesville to talk to Florida's coaches, check out some more film on him and to further handle some due diligence to check for any personal issues or history with law enforcement.
"The big thing with Chad was there were a lot of question marks coming out," said Canter. "There was a question whether he had the speed to play at the next level and be an elite level receiver or whether the system or him didn't have more yards per catch. Since the combine, obviously he opened a lot of eyes. Teams obviously know now that he's an elite player.
"He has the best hands, he ran the best 40, he's the most explosive wide receiver in this year's draft, he has the best size if you are looking at the guys who are 6-1 or 6-2, and he has the most compact body. He's 213 and now everybody is saying 'wow, he's 6-1, 213, catches everything thrown at him and he can jump out of the building plus he runs a 4.3 … maybe we need to go back to his junior year and see what kind of routes he was running.' When they come here and check out the film they see that obviously he was the only player in the system who could run the routes that Caldwell was running when Caldwell went down."
Jackson caught 88 passes for 900 yards and nine touchdowns this past season. The year before, he caught 29 passes for 648 yards and six touchdowns, an average of 22.3 per catch.
"When he first came out, teams were thinking third or fourth round because they were looking at numbers and statistics," said Canter. "Numbers and statistics don't tell you what you see on the football field. They have to look at what he was asked to do in the system, what kind of routes he was running and other things like that. They saw some things that opened their eyes at the combine. He is head and shoulders above every other wide receiver in the draft. He's THE guy. He's head and shoulders ahead of Santonio Holmes and he's way ahead of Santonio Holmes, he's way ahead of Sinorice Moss. That's not taking anything away from either of those two guys because they are going to do well but Chad Jackson is an elite level player and that's why he's going to be the first receiver taken in the draft this year."
Mincey, a 6-3, 260-pound defensive end, had good workouts in Indianapolis but his 40 times Wednesday probably elevated his draft status to perhaps as high as third or fourth round. One watch had Mincey at 4.67 on his first 40 and 4.53 on the other. Most of the scouts had Mincey in the 4.65-4.68 range on the first run while there was greater discrepancy on the second.
"He was already looking good but he helped himself out a lot today," said Canter. "In Indianapolis he caught everybody's eye but now he's moving up for a lot of reasons, especially because he's a leader. He's a high character guy, a leader in the weight room, the class room, off the field and on the field. You look at him out there today and he's coaching guys up and encouraging them, just doing the things you expect a leader to do.
"Then you look at the fact he was a team captain under Ron Zook and a team captain under Urban Meyer and that should tell you a lot about him right there. Now he comes out here today and he runs what? Better than 4.68 and he's 260? That's unbelievable and that's why his stock is really rising."
Canter said that Mincey is being projected by some teams as an outside guy in a 3-4 setup that will allow him to both rush the passer and drop off into coverage in a zone.
"He's the kind of guy that might be the perfect fit in a system where he's playing the Will and where he can rush the passer or drop off into coverage in zone. You have to be some kind of athlete to do that and I think everybody's starting to see what kind of athlete Jeremy is. I'm feeling very good about what I'm hearing from a lot of scouts about him."
* * *
The fastest unofficial 40 time of the day was turned in by Dee Webb, who turned in a 4.38 on his first run and 4.31 on his second. Other unofficial times included Jarvis Herring (4.69 and 4.62), Vernell Brown (4.47 and 4.51), Lance Butler (5.29 and 5.27), Mike Degory (5.45 and 5.29), Randy Hand (5.27 and 5.23), Tavares Washington (5.22 and 5.10), Todd McCullough (4.99 and 4.91), Markell Thompson (4.90), Zephrine Augustine (4.59) and Tre Orr (4.63).
Degory, who will be among the first centers taken in the draft, said that 40 times for an offensive lineman might be just a tad overrated.
"As an offensive lineman you never run a 40 yard dash," said Degory, who bench pressed 225 pounds 29 times. "You're running a 40-yard dash that means someone's scoring a touchdown."
The 40 times were all hand held Wednesday so there was discrepancy. Some watches had Randy Hand as low as 4.97.
"I heard anything from 4.97 to 5.1," said Hand. "Whatever the time, I think I ran well enough. I don't think I did anything that hurt me today."
Butler ran a low time of 5.27, which he said is fairly consistent with what he's been doing. He said the scouts know he doesn't test out all that well.
"Coaches are talking to me about getting me in camp to see what I can do because they know I'm not all that great of a tester in situations like this," said Butler. "I never get nervous for games or practice but I have to admit I was pretty nervous out here today. Coaches have told me they'll know better about me when I get pads on."
* * *
Vernell Brown ran well enough to prove to the scouts that he's recovered from the broken leg that sidelined him for the final two regular season games. He's still the smallest guy out there but he's used to that.
"I definitely think I'll get an opportunity," said Brown. "That's all I ask for is a shot. I've been told that I'm too small but this is just another road block to overcome. When you have guys who question my size and ability they get to see my size and my ability and also some guys question if I'm back from the injjury and I think I showed that today."
Brown is another one who heard conflicting times on his 40-yard dash.
"My first 40 they told me they had me everything from a 4.32 to a 4.4 flat," he said. "Everybody writes down what they write down. It doesn't matter to me. I feel that I came here and did what I have to do."