WSU Pro Day: Cougs looking to turn NFL heads

HUSAIN ABDULLAH is aiming to better his 40 time from the NFL combine. Alex Brink is looking forward to having a full throwing session to show off his skills. And a host of other Cougars who didn't get a combine invite are hoping to make a splash in front of NFL scouts today at Pro Day in Pullman.

With no Cougars considered a lock to be drafted, the day's results will go far in determining whether WSU builds on or ends its streak of 13 straight drafts with at least one player being taken.

The draft will be held April 26-27.

Abdullah may have the best chance of being drafted -- in part due to his pedigree, in part due to how Washington State in recent years has become a factory for producing NFL defensive backs.

Indeed, five Cougar DBs have landed in the NFL the last five years -- Erik Coleman, Eric Frampton, Husain's brother Hamza Abdullah, Karl Paymah and Jason David.

The younger Abdullah was for the most part pleased with his performance at the recent NFL Combine in Indianapolis, although he said as player there's always something to improve on. Among the items on his list for the WSU Pro Day is to lower his 40 time to the 4.5 range. He ran a 4.63 at Indy. He'll also be doing some shuttle drills he didn't do at the combine.

To prepare, Abdullah has been lifting weights and running seven days a week. He also squeezes in position and shuttle drills two- to three- days a week.

One drawback of the combine is that you run through a drill and then sit and wait while everyone else goes through it. For Abdullah, because they go alphabetically, he was first in line. Brink said the process can make it difficult for a QB to find a rhythm -- throw a couple passes and then wait, throw a couple more and then wait again.

Brink said although he didn't run his fastest 40 time in Indy -- 4.9 -- he wasn't planning on running it again today. He's most looking forward to a full throwing session to show scouts his arm strength and accuracy. In Indy, he had about 30 throws that were graded.

Most observers think he's either a seventh-round draft pick or a free-agent signee.

Among the players who are expected to be on the turf today are kicker Romeen Abdollmohammadi, receiver Michael Bumpus, offensive lineman Bobby Byrd, tight end Jed Collins, receiver Charles Dillon and defensive tackle Ropati Pitoitua.

Abdollmohammadi was 14-of-19 on field goal attempts in 2007. He was 7-for-8 from 30-39 yards and 4-of-5 from 40-49 yards.

Bumpus made some incredible catches over the years at WSU. He's not the fastest receiver and doesn't have great size -- but guys who can make the tough grab in crunch time often find a home in the NFL.

Byrd was a mainstay on the Cougar line since his redshirt freshman year and played both guard and tackle. A solid performance today could get him on the radar.

Collins, like Bumpus, has great hands. But a lack of speed -- and perhaps an inch or two in height -- presumably kept him from getting a combine invite.

Dillon didn't produce eye-popping stats and he might be perceived to be a step slow. But he's athletic, an excellent blocker and a physical presence. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of blocking going on during a pro day. Better than expected numbers and times in the drills and testing will help his chances.

Pitoitua is an imposing presence at 6-foot-8 and height does sometimes count for a lot in the NFL.

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