Pro Day Gives Laurinaitis Chance To Rebound

James Laurinaitis earned plenty of accolades in his time at Ohio State, but with the NFL draft coming up in April, his draft status has slipped. The former Buckeye took advantage of Ohio State's pro day to improve on his combine times.

He may be an All-American with a mantle full of awards earned during his four years at Ohio State, but linebacker James Laurinaitis still felt the need to impress scouts at Ohio State's annual pro day on March 13.

Recent mock drafts have had the former Buckeye standout sliding to a late first round - if not second round - selection. While scouts and analysts will continue to debate Laurinaitis' future until NFL draft in April, the 2007 Butkus Award is satisfied in knowing he did all he could to impress.

"It's been a long process, and I'm glad to be done," Laurinaitis said.

Laurinaitis' stock dropped because of underwhelming numbers at the NFL combine in February. He ran a 4.82 40-yard dash, the three-cone drill in 6.93 seconds and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.24 seconds. He has slipped in several mock drafts since then. Scout.com recently ranked Laurinaitis the No. 17 overall prospect and No. 2 insider linebacker. Scout draft analyst Chris Steuber had the Minnesota native going to the New York Giants with the 29th overall pick.

A pair of NFL.com analysts have differing opinions of where Laurinaitis will be selected. Charles Davis has San Diego taking Laurinaitis with the 16th pick, while colleague Pat Kirwan has the 2006 Nagurski winner slipping all the way to the No. 27 pick and the Indianapolis Colts. Another analyst, Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com, has Laurinaitis falling to the Tennessee Titans with the 30th pick. Rob Rang and Chad Reuter of NFLdraftscout.com have Laurinaitis falling out of the first round entirely.

Laurinaitis did what he could to improve his stock by posting faster times on pro day. His 40-yard dash time was reportedly between 4.72 and 4.78 seconds, an measurable improvement from his combine speed. He credited a faster FieldTurf surface at the Woody Hayes Center as one reason for his improvement.

"The combine had a soft, slow surface," Laurinaitis said of the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium. "The goal was to make all the times faster today. That was accomplished. I was happy with that."

Laurinaitis also credited Ohio State director of football performance Eric Lichter for his improved numbers.

"Coach Lichter did a great job of training with me, Chris (Wells) and Marcus (Freeman)," Laurinaitis said. "We felt the improvement from the combine to now. It was really good."

As for what's next, Laurinaitis said he has "a few" individual workouts scheduled already. He mentioned Atlanta and Denver as two teams he will work out for specifically. The Falcons have the No. 24 pick in the first round. Denver has the 12th choice.

In addition to improving his sprint time, Laurinaitis said he wanted to use the agility drills and position workouts to show that he has the necessary quickness to play linebacker in the NFL.

"I just wanted to prove (my) change of direction, (and) playing in space," he said. "I think there's a misnomer that playing in the Big Ten, you don't have to play in space. But half the Big Ten is spread teams now, so it's just exciting to be in space, have (coaches) challenge you to see what you can do."


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