After a somewhat disappointing performance at the Scouting Combine and a career catch rate of less than 50 percent, Coates knew he had to show off his hands in front of scouts from all 32 teams.
He did just that. "Sammie crushed it," a source said. The source said Coates had one drop on a slightly off-target pass. He ran his routes well, showing "very little stiffneess" getting in and out of his breaks for a player his size, and tracked the deep ball well.
"I felt great. I went out there to show I could run a route and show I could catch with my hands," he told reporters. "I 'can’t catch,' that’s the biggest thing that’s out there (about me). I heard that from a lot of people. But, hey, they saw me catch the ball, so what are they going to say now?”
There’s no doubt about his measurables. Coates (6-1, 212) stuck with his Combine workout of 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, 41-inch vertical and 23 reps on the 225-pound bench press. If the pro day will be his lasting impression on scouts, he might be in the first-round conversation.
Also of note for the Packers were defensive end Gabe Wright (6-3, 300), running back Cameron Artis-Payne (5-10, 212), quarterback-turned-cornerback Nick Marshall (6-2, 207) and tight end C.J. Uzomah (6-5, 262).
Wright (5.07 in the 40; 34 reps on the bench were second-most among the defensive linemen) stuck with his Combine work and had a strong workout that was led in part by New England coach Bill Belichick, according to a source. A potential Day 2 defensive end, Wright recorded 24 tackles with one sack and 4.5 TFLs as a senior. He started 26 games in four seasons and wound up with 20.5 TFLs.
Artis-Payne (4.53) led the SEC with 1,608 rushing yards (5.31 average) while adding 13 touchdowns. However, he caught just 13 passes as a senior and wasn’t used much in protection so probably isn’t a good fit for the Packers, who are seeking an upgrade at No. 3 back.
Marshall (4.54) is the most intriguing prospect. In a cornerback class filled with 5-foot-10 and 5-foot-11 options, he’s got the size that teams covet. The Packers might need cornerback help, given the free-agent status of Tramon Williams and Davon House. He did throw at the workout and said most teams see him as a cornerback and emergency quarterback.
"I'm locked into defensive back right now, but to be on anybody's team, I'll do what they want me to do," he said.
Uzomah caught 11 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns as a senior. At his height, he’s an intriguing target and a solid blocker.
It was a backup running back who had the most noteworthy day. Corey Grant (5-8, 202) ran as fast as 4.27 in the 40.
The Packers also sent scouts to at least two other pro days.
The star attraction was offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings, who has zoomed so far up draft boards that he almost certainly won’t on the board when the Packers are up at No. 30.
Clemmings (6-5, 309), who had a formal interview with the Packers at the Scouting Combine, is an incredible story. He started at defensive tackle for about half of his sophomore season before going to right tackle as a junior and senior. According to the NFL’s scouting department, Clemmings allowed one-half sack and delivered the key block on 30 rushing touchdowns during his two seasons. Not only is he a gifted athlete but he’s got 35 1/8-inch arms to steer defenders around the quarterback. About the only knock on Clemmings were his seven false-start penalties as a senior.
Clemmings stuck with his Scouting Combine testing numbers (5.14 in the 40, 32.5-inch vertical, 24 reps) and excelled in position drills, according to a source.
Impressive safety Ibraheim Campbell, a fourth-round prospect, is the only draftable player for the Wildcats. Due to an injured left hamstring that kept him from testing at the Combine, he didn’t work out for the scouts. He plans to perform for them on March 17. Campbell (5-11, 208), who led all defensive backs at the Combine with 23 reps on the bench, was a four-year starter and three-time all-Big Ten selection. He picked off 11 passes in his career and led the Big Ten with four forced fumbles as a senior.
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