Cowboys Look To Hit NFL Jackpot

There's pressure any time an athlete steps onto Boone Pickens Stadium. There is pressure to perform in practice and always pressure to make plays on game day in front of the nearly 60,000 members of the sea of orange. It was a different kind of pressure on Tuesday for 17 recent Cowboys and one player a year removed in Hubert Anyiam as scouts from 25 different NFL teams watched OSU's Pro Day.

It is easier to say which NFL teams weren't on hand -- the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears -- than to list the teams who were in Stillwater. Every other team was represented with the likes of Hall of Famer Joe Greene representing the Steelers, Calvin Branch the Oakland Raiders, and Josh Scobey the Arizona Cardinals.

The headliners were the Cowboys NFL Combine tandem of kicker/punter Quinn Sharp and early entry in junior running back Joseph Randle.

With his dad and brother watching, Randle did a good job of improving his draft value. He topped his Combine forty of 4.63 in both of his runnings of the sprint test as he clocked 4.51 on the first go and a 4.58 on the second. He measured 6-0 and 202 pounds.

All drills including some pass catching drills from former third-team Cowboys quarterback Jace Chilcoat made the day more interesting. Randle did better than the Combine showing.

"I knew I had it in me and I just hope they watch the (game) film," said Randle to an Army of microphones and cameras after his workout. "I would be happy if they watch the film. I'm not a big guy on all this stuff. I just like playing football. I felt like I did good and I feel I did (improve my draft stock). I think I did good out there today."

It wasn't learned until after last mont's NFL Combine that Randle had injured his thumb in pre-Heart of Dallas Bowl workouts. While he played in the game, he had to have surgery after the Cowboys big win over Purdue on Jan. 1.

Randle still went to to Combine and ran with a cast on his hand. You'd think he would have received bonus points that he still ran at the Combine.

"I felt like I would have played in a game with that cast on, so why wouldn't I go out there (Combine) and compete with the best athletes in the country," Randle said. "It was big for me. I don't like to miss games, so I'm not going to miss an opportunity to compete."

However, he ran a 4.63 and could not compete in many drills including the bench press rep test, which he had to stay out of today as well. Part of his improvement Tuesday is he is catching up to his competition that had a head start.

"I got to train longer and before (the Combine) I was just coming off surgery and I had a month of training and everybody else had two months," Randle added. "On my thumb injury I just got my cast off last Wednesday."

He caught balls on Tuesday and did virtually everything except the bench press. He cooperated in the drills, drills Randle said the NFL conducts trying to cost athletes money in negotiations. Jets scout Matthew Bazirgan was putting Randle, the receivers, now tight end Cooper Bassett, corner Brodrick Brown and linebacker Alex Elkins through the paces.

While Randle did better than he did previously at the Combine and increased his stock, Quinn Sharp probably didn't hurt it but he didn't boost it either. Sharp, who kicked for scouts at the Senior Bowl and Combine, hit his kickoffs well but did not do as well in other areas like field goals and extra points.

"Disappointment, that's for sure. It wasn't really fun and I did well at the Combine and I did well at the Senior Bowl, so I'm not really going to get down on myself, I finished strong with the last kick and I'm not really worried about it," said Sharp.

For the other 15 Cowboy seniors this was about introducing themselves to the NFL scouts and showing something to get their name to come up on draft weekend either to be selected or to be signed as a free agent.

For Hubert Anyiam it was about showing he is much faster than he was last spring coming off foot surgery that prematurely ended his senior season. Even though he ran times in the 4.6 range last year on Pro Day, Anyiam made it into camp with two teams the San Diego Chargers and Carolina Panters. Both teams were represented at the workout and Anyiam lit the board with a 4.5 and 4.56.

"Today was to let the scout know that I'm 100 percent and last year I was 75 to 80 percent going through the drills," said Anyiam, who finished his OSU career with 83 receptions for 1,052 yards and nine touchdowns. "My forty wasn't what I wanted it to be (last year), and this was to let the scouts know I'm back and my feet are good and there are no problems."

Anyiam also helped receiver Isaiah Anderson with what to prepare for in advance of Pro Day. Anderson ran a 4.57 and clocked well on the drills. Anderson honestly hopes the teams will keep watching the highlight tapes of this season's game the Texas Tech when he caught four passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns.

"Keep that Texas Tech game in there and rerun it over and over and they see some explosive moves and lots of catches and everything," Anderson said laughing.

Patriots scout Richmond Williams was putting the defensive linemen through there positon drills in the west end zone with the likes of Ryan Robinson, Maurice Hayes and Nigel Nicholas getting after it. Nicholas measured at 6-3, 253 pounds and could bill himself as a defensive end in a 4-3 front or an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

"I've been waiting for this my whole life and I can't believe it is here and it is over with already," said Nicholas after the workout. "I had a great time and I am blessed to have the opportunity. It is a big day and you have to show the guys (scouts) you are committed to play in the NFL."

Like the defensive linemen, the offensive line trio of four-year starter Lane Taylor, Jonathan Rush and center Evan Epstein had NFL scout Chris Driggers of Jacksonville putting them through their paces. Taylor and Epstein got off to a good start and built confidence from the weight room with Taylor hitting 31 on the bench press rep test. Epstein had 29 reps with 225 pounds on the bar.

"We've been doing this stuff out here our whole lives and it's kind of fun to be doing it in front of the NFL scouts and to try and get to the next level," said Epstein sounding like a player version of John Gruden. "It's about having fun and it's a blast to do this."

All three of the offensive linemen traveled to Allen, Texas for the Texas vs. the Nation all-star game. Epstein showed up well.

"I went down there with the mentality that I had something to prove and that I went down with a chip on my shoulder," said Epstein. "That helps give me an edge and I don't think many people knew me with just one year as a starter.

"Lane (Taylor), they all knew him and it helped to get my name out there and that I could play with all those guys. I went down there to prove something and I think I did a pretty good job."

Epstein plays every game, every play as if he has something prove.

"I like to say that off the field I'm the nicest guy you would want to meet but on the field anyone that is wearing a different color jersey I hate them. Regardless of what they've done, I hate them. Anyone lines up in front of me trying to do their job I'm not going to let them do it. I want to block my assignments, first and foremost, but after that I want to kill whoever is in front of me."

In his workout Epstein wasn't fast but ran an acceptable 5.45. His strength was good and his 34-inch vertical wasn't too bad.

"I had strep throat all last week so I came into this off a week of inactivity. I did my position drills with vigor, and like I said, we've been doing these drills a long time."

Some NFL longshots did those drills on Tuesday with the hope they will need to keep doing them for a long time. That is the Pro Day goal.

GoPokes Top Stories