Pro Day Notebook: Cook, Brinkley rising fast

After deciding to leave school early, former South Carolina tight end Jared Cook is climbing the NFL draft board at rapid speed after a stunning combine workout. Meanwhile, Jasper Brinkley is working hard to show NFL scouts he is capable of being a lean middle linebacker for a team on Sunday's. For more information, continue reading inside.

When Jared Cook made his decision to leave South Carolina for a shot at the NFL, he was told he might be a first-day pick if he was lucky. But after an impressive NFL combine showing where he jumped higher, lifted more and ran faster than any other tight end, Cook is quickly becoming the rapid riser on most mock draft boards.

"I was just going by my draft grade (when I left), third round, but it's nice to hear that. But anything can happen on draft day. It's one of the craziest days in sports," Cook said. "So many things, it's so unpredictable so they talk, but you really can't go by what they say."

Once predicted to be a third round pick, Cook is now nearing the top of the second and possibly end of the first round thanks in part to running a 4.5 at the combine. The former All-SEC tight end finished his career at USC with 1,107 yards receiving and seven touchdowns in three years. While his numbers have put him near the top of the list on available tight ends in the draft class, Cook was hesitant to say he was the most elite of the group.

"I know that it's a lot of good guys coming out this year. It's 21 guys plus in the tight end class alone," Cook said. "I wouldn't say I'm the best, but I know I'm competing against the best."

Cook has already had preliminary talks with what he calls "a handful" of teams including the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins.

Cook, along with a few other former Gamecocks, are predicted to be selected early in this year's draft. After having just one player taken last year in the final round, Cook is excited to see so many Gamecock players catching the NFL scout's attention.

"It feels great, man. The past couple of years, it's not been a lot of guys come out of South Carolina," Cook said. "It's encouraging to see a lot of guys out here and just see everybody working out and everybody's doing well."

Brinkley drops pounds, gets attention

When he left South Carolina, Jasper Brinkley was pushing 275 lbs on the scale. After being told by NFL talent evaluators that his weight would be far too much for a professional linebacker, Brinkley went hard to work in an effort to slim down.

On Wednesday, Brinkley weighed in at 249 pounds, and that effort has helped him improve his draft stock. He credits the weight loss to a new regimen he worked on while training in New Jersey and a new diet he has been put on.

With a strong showing in the NFL combine, Brinkley has already met with New England, Denver and Seattle and has more meetings in the works as the draft nears.

Newton takes part in pro day activities

Former Gamecock quarterback Syvelle Newton took part in the pro day activities, two years removed from his last game in the Garnet and Black.

Newton, who working briefly with the CFL and American Indoor Football Association, split time during the drills working out at both the wide receiver and quarterback positions during the drills.

Nineteen players in attendance at pro day

Along with Cook, Brinkley and Newton, 19 total players worked out for the pro scouts on Wednesday. Defensive players were Jamarial Brown, Emanuel Cook, Marque Hall, Dustin Lindsey, Jordin Lindsey, Captain Munnerlyn, Marvin Sapp, Carlos Thomas, Jonathan Williams and Stoney Woodson. On offense it was Yvan Banag, Mike Davis, Kenny McKinley, Jamon Meredith and Justin Sorensen. Kicker Ryan Succop also performed for the scouts.

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