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The Baylor Bears hosted their annual pro timing day, a last chance for NFL hopefuls to impress pro football scouts before the NFL draft held April 28-30 in Chicago. Among Baylor's 16 prospects, three of them are expected to go in the first round in offensive lineman Spencer Drango, defensive lineman Andrew Billings, and wide receiver Corey Coleman. The pool of potential blue-chip talent brought coaches and scouts from all 32 NFL teams to the Allison Indoor Facility.
Drango, a senior offensive lineman from Cedar Park, says pro day attention like this is on the rise at Baylor thanks to 2012 when the program had two players taken in the first round in the draft.
"I think we had a big pro day with [Robert Griffin III] out there running with Kendall [Wright] as well," said Drango. "So, we've had some great talent here. I think our pro day is only going to get bigger a lot because of what they were able to accomplish and we were able to build off of that."
The NFL team with the most representation at Baylor were the Pittsburgh Steelers, who sent seven people, including general manager Kevin Colbert, head coach Mike Tomlin, offensive coordinator Todd Haley, defensive coordinator Keith Butler, and Hall-of-Famer Joe Greene to take a look at Billings. The 6-2, 310-pound junior from Waco was awestruck in meeting one of the fiercest defensive linemen in NFL history.
"Mean Joe" was the fourth overall pick of the 1969 draft. Billings is hopeful that he too can be another Central Texas native taken in the first round of April's draft in Chicago.
"It’s definitely one of the biggest goals going into draft, but I’ll be happy just to be drafted," said Billings, who has family on his father's side in Chicago, a motivating factor for him to accept the NFL's invitation to attend.
"I factored in really just staying and getting my degree," the 2015 All-American said. "Do I really want to come back and do that? Could I be a solid first-rounder if I stay another year? Things like that. Really what made my decision just the potential I had to go first round, the potential I had leaving anyway."
Another junior All-American leaving with a year of eligibility left on the table is receiver Corey Coleman. The Richardson Pearce product was able to showcase his talents before Texans head coach Bill O'Brien along with the Steelers brass who are in need of a receiver thanks to Martavius Bryant's season-long suspension.
"It says a lot for me to have those guys of that high caliber out here," Coleman said. "I knew I had to perform at the highest level and be on my stuff."
His "stuff" was top notch. Coleman, standing 5-11, 190 pounds, clocked in at 4.31 in the 40-yard dash, but he lists himself at "90 percent" coming off hernia surgery to conclude 2015, a year where he caught 74 passes for 1,363 yards and 20 touchdowns. Coleman declined to participate in the vertical and other drills that he didn't feel would boost his draft stock, especially at the expense of his health. Instead, he focused on receiver drills where he hauled in impressive grabs for the NFL eyes.
Said Coleman: "I feel like I’m the best receiver in the draft."
But don't take his swagger the wrong way; Coleman has tremendous respect for Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell and TCU wideout Josh Doctson, fellow pass-catchers that are also projected to go in the first round.
"They’re really good guys. Happy for them and their success. They’ve done a great job to put themselves in the top with me. Now it’s time for April to wait and see where everyone ends up."
Right now, Coleman, who has dreamed of being drafted ever since residing in his mother's womb, doesn't know if he will be in Chicago in April. On his mind presently are the various workouts his agent has scheduled for him -- workouts which he did not reveal at Baylor but we will learn soon enough. Certainly travels plans for Pittsburgh and Houston are in the works, one would think.
While the Steelers may have asked Joe Greene to come take a look at Billings, sources say Coleman had a really good visit with Haley at the pro day with the Pittsburgh offensive coordinator going so far as to tell Coleman he was the best receiver in the draft.
"It’s not over yet," said the 2015 Fred Biletnikoff Award Winner. "We’ve still got some business to do. I’m excited about the process. You only get this one time so you’ve got to enjoy it. Just live and have fun doing it. Don’t let it get to you, because I know it can tear you down sometimes. But not too many people are in my shoes."
Not too many people can fill the shoes of Drango, another two-time All-American like Coleman. Though possessing first-round talent, the 6-6, 320-pound tackle is not focused on the draft just yet.
"It's still pretty early," Drango said. "I know it kind of seems late, but free agency is still going on. It's pretty crazy early on. So, once free agency settles down, we'll figure out and I'll kind of get a better feeling of what teams need what and where I can fit in best."
Where the 2015 Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year would fit in best would be at one of the tackle positions. Though he started 13 games at left tackle in another banner season, Drango practiced some at right tackle at the Senior Bowl on Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley's South squad.
Said Drango: "At the Senior Bowl, I worked both right and left tackle. Moving inside is not that big of a change, a little bit quicker, just bigger bodies inside with all of that space to work with. It's a little bit different, but the change shouldn't be too horribly bad; just get those muscle memory reps in and you'll be fine."
Though playing all of his career at left tackle for the Bears, Drango is not opposed to kicking inside and playing guard or center in an effort to help the team that drafts him win.
"I see myself as a tackle first and foremost, but I'm not opposed to moving inside at all," Drango stated. "If I need to move inside, learn how to snap, move right, left, I can do whatever as long as it helps the team succeed."
The only teams to have met with Drango thus far are the Patriots and Texans. Certainly as the off-season progresses and draft day approaches, more teams will seek to meet with the 2015 Outland Trophy finalist.
On a Cowboys note, since this is a Dallas Cowboys website after all, the club only sent Senior Personnel Executive Tom Ciskowski and two scouts to Waco. Last year, the team sent quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson to evaluate Bryce Petty, who went in the fourth round to the New York Jets.
The team's social media arm allowed former Baylor Bear Terrance Williams to control their official Snapchat account during the pro day. In the process, Williams managed to indicate not so subtly who he would like to see backup Tony Romo: