What is NFL Pro Day? Well, the best way to sum it up is that former Lobo football players get the opportunity to display their skills and talent to NFL scouts. And there were scouts aplenty today complete with stopwatches, tape measures, cones, drill ideas, and the all important clipboards loaded with numbers that could make some of these young men NFL superstars …
Former Lobos being scouted today: CB Brandon Payne, LBs Nick Speegle, Fola Fashola, and Chrishone Harris, QB Tali Ena, FB Landrick Brody, RB DD Cox, WR Martin Romero, and PK Wes Zunker. OL Claude Terrell was also in attendance today but only participated in a few drills as he attended the NFL combine last month in Indianapolis.
We unfortunately didn't make it for the bench press and jumping drills, but we did make it out to the Lobo track to see players run their 40-yard dash and shuttle drills. So to set this up, the track had 40 yards marked off. There was one scout at the 10-yard mark, one at the 20-yard mark and 5-6 at the 40-yard mark all with stopwatches so that all three distances could be measured. Each player was given two opportunities to run the 40 and like most New Mexico March days there was a gusting wind that affected some of the times. "My second time I got like 25 yards into it and the wind just picked up. I just had to keep fighting through it and get to the last 15," says OL Claude "Big C" Terrell. In spite of the wind, Lobo LB Nick Speegle was able to post unofficially a 4.52 40 and CB Brandon Payne we were told ran a 4.4 40. I say unofficial because we never had the opportunity to see what the final numbers were. I expect for the numbers to be posted on the NFL.com website soon.
The 40 was followed up with a shuttle drill, 3-cone drill, and 60-yard suicide type drills. Here are some videos of various players running and or drilling.
I'm not going to pretend to be a scout here ,but I was very impressed with the hard work and effort displayed by CB Brandon Payne, and linebackers Fola Fashola and Nick Speegle. Don't take my word for it, though, we went right to one of the experts: Larry Bryan, scout for the Houston Texans, and asked him.
Every year we are looking for the best players that we can find … and this year because of Rocky's success here he gets a few more of the type of guys we are looking for. So there were some interesting kids here. I know Speegle, Fashola, and Payne come to mind here real quick. Speegle, with his size and athletic ability performed well, and I think that is what a lot of guys were here to see. Fashola had a good day and so did Payne. They have had good workouts and warrant consideration for the upcoming draft.
TheRedMenace.com had an opportunity to speak with both Nick Speegle and Brandon Payne and here is what they had to say.
I imagine this day has been circled on the calendar for a long time … much of it anxiety?
Lots of anxiety… but we've prepared for so long and I think that the mental reps and doing things over and over again has helped so much that now that we have come down to it I just get the adrenaline and go.
Nick, for a guy that didn't go to the combine is this a make or break day for you?
Yeah, it really is because we only have one pro day, so this is my only shot to show this year. So make or break.
Can you analyze your performance for us?
I thought I did well. I did better than I thought I was in some areas and in others I did a little less.
Nick, is there any drill that you just didn't like?
The bench press I thought I did okay, but I think I could have done a little bit better. And the three-cone drill where I moved my feet too soon. I thought I heard the clock start before I was gone so I knew it was bad. But it isn't going to erase anything that I did well today.
What about Nick Speegle's stock today? Did it go up or down?
(Nick broke into a wide grin.) Ahh… I think it went up a bit.
And for what reason?
I think I performed better than I thought I would and that I opened some eyes up.
Did any of the scouts actually say anything to you about what you did well or where you excelled today?
No … the coaches came up and said you did well or didn't do well or one of the scouts told me this about you … Plus I've been looking at the internet seeing what other linebackers are doing
So do you have any individual workouts right now?
Yeah I have about 3 or 4 visits set up in April.
How did it go today?
It went great for me today and I think it did well for Nick (Speegle) and Fola (Fashola) as well. We've been training hard for the past 3 months so I'm glad everything went well.
How tough was today?
It was a full workout because you have to work your butt off if you want to get to the next level.
Are you nervous about this?
No, I'm not nervous. I've been praying every day and my mother has been praying with me and as long as you have faith and believe in yourself then you can make it.
How have you prepared for this experience.
I've been putting in three to four hours of work everyday and you can't take a day off. We worked out 6 days a week and came in early in the morning to get our workouts done… and now the hard work pays off.
Did Brandon Payne's stock go up today?
It should have gone up. I don't really know but deep down inside it should have gone up. I think I showed the scouts today that I can run. Last spring they told me I was a 4.7 guy but today I proved that I could run faster then that.
Anyone want to see you again?
I don't know anything yet, but I believe the phone calls will be coming in to my agent now that they get my numbers.
While all the players may have felt today may have been a make or break type of day for their future scout Larry Bryan disagrees.
"It's just another piece to the puzzle. What we want to see is how they perform the game of football. This is just another part of the whole makeup of a player. You want to see their athletic profile… how fast they run, how high they jump. It doesn't mean that equates to a better football player… it gives you a little indicator of deficiencies in certain areas as you watch them play on tape. It isn't a make or break thing by any means."
Ethan Waugh of the San Francisco 49ers agrees somewhat:
For some people yes or no…(Is it a make or break day for these players) You want to make sure that he runs and changes direction like you think he does after watching him on tape. When it really comes down to it… we want to find out if he is a football player and there weren't any pads out there today. So those decisions are made on Saturday.
It was interesting talking to the scouts as most were very noncommittal about individual players. They would talk to individual players as we saw with the Oakland Raider scout checking out Wes Zunker, Cleveland Browns scout talking with Nick Speegle, and the cell phones were buzzing back and forth with number crunching and opinions going back and forth but this is business and with your competitor next door many scouts were very quite about what they had to say. When we asked Ethan Waugh of the 49ers about any players that may have raised their stock today he said, "There were quite a few good football players. All the guys that worked out did well today." Yeah Mr. Waugh we know that, but anyone raise any eyebrows…
We've seen all the guys out there today on tape through the course of the season and their past 4 seasons, so we had a pretty good idea about each player going into it… today's workout kind of cemented that.
Larry Bryan added
Yeah… yeah… there is a lot of cat and mouse in this thing. Sometimes you say something like "gee… I wish he would have run faster," knowing full well he ran fast enough so you yeah you try to keep them off guard a little bit. (laughing)
So is one of today's participants the hidden gem? Guess we will find out the weekend of April 23rd when the NFL draft is held.
Good luck Lobos!
I want to thank Scott Stiegler for all his help with today's interviews. Scott is a true professional and was great to work with. That being said, he better be careful. Hanging out with The Red Menace guys leads to making great friends and weight gain!