Late-round prospects impress at Texas Pro Day

Texas probably won't have a player drafted in an early round, but plenty of players may have worked their way into the draft because of their performances during the team's pro day.

The Minnesota Vikings were one of the 31 teams represented at the Texas Pro Day on Wednesday – the only team not represented was the Cincinnati Bengals. Scouts who showed up to this pro day were reportedly not expecting too much, but likely left being impressed by what they saw.

There were plenty of players participating in this pro day whom the Vikings could find interest in, most of which were represented on the defensive side of the ball. There was the defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway, defensive end Shiro Davis, cornerback Duke Thomas and wide receiver Marcus Johnson

The depth of the defensive line in this year’s draft has been well-documented and it was on display at the Texas Pro Day, too. Ridgeway was originally projected to be a fourth- or fifth-round pick, but during his workouts he proved that he could go higher. 

He measured in at 6-foot-3, 307 pounds and recorded a 20-yard shuttle time of 4.69 seconds and a three-cone drill time of 7.33 seconds, which is a great time for a player his size. Not only did Ridgeway post good times in the workouts he participated in, but he also reportedly impressed with his strength during the positional drills.

The biggest concern surrounding Ridgeland heading into the draft is his conditioning. Teams could be worried that he will not be motivated to keep a healthy weight, but if he is able to do that some team could be getting a steal in the middle of the draft. 

Davis was another defensive lineman participating at the pro day that the Vikings could have found interest in. Heading into this offseason he was believed to be on the border of being a drafted player and an undrafted free agent. A lot of it just depended on how his offseason workouts would go.

At 6-3, 267 pounds he has good size, and on his game tape he will make plays that cause observers to think he should be going a lot higher than projected. The biggest problem with Davis is that his play is very inconsistent and he often times disappeared on the field for long stretches.

His workout during his pro day, however, may have earned him a selection in this year’s draft. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.75 and 4.76 seconds, the 20-yard short shuttle in 4.46 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.26 seconds. He also recorded a 34½-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-5 broad jump and 29 reps of the 225-pound bench press.

Davis also participated in positional drills, where he looked very smooth and really impressed some scouts. Like his teammate Ridgeway, Davis could end up being a steal for a team if he finds a way to be more consistent on the field.  

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer loves his defensive backs. He has been working with that position since he entered the league and even now it is a position he continues to take pride in developing. For than reason, Thomas could possibly be a player that the Vikings take interest in.

He measures in at 5-10, 184 pounds, not all that impressive for a player coming out of college. But even though he is small in stature, he is a tough-minded, physical player who is not afraid to step up and deliver a hit. He is also a very versatile player as he can play both cornerback and safety. Those are both traits that Zimmer loves to see in players and they are traits that could end up helping him get drafted in a later round.  

Thomas ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 and 4.46 seconds during his pro day, while also recording times of 4.21 in the short shuttle and 6.72 in the three-cone drill. He also had a 34½-inch vertical, 10-foot-1 broad jump and 17 reps on the bench press.

He also performed well in the positional drills, showing off his field speed. 

Most positions on the Vikings roster are already filled or have been addressed in free agency this offseason already. The one position on the Vikings roster that continues to be a question mark is wide receiver. All signs seem to be pointing towards them taking a player early in the draft, but it is possible that they also select some in later rounds.

Both Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman have made it clear that they want to create competition at every position, and that is exactly how a player such as Johnson could find his way onto the team’s roster. 

Johnson measures in at 6-1, 204 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 and 4.38 seconds during his pro day, while also recording times of 4.39 seconds in the short shuttle and 7.26 in the three-cone drill. He also recorded a 37-inch vertical jump and an 11-foot-3 broad jump. However, possibly the most impressive part of his workout was when he did 22 reps of the bench press – the most reps done at the combine by a wide receiver was 20.

While Johnson may not be the most agile wide receiver, he proved that he is fast and has plenty of strength. His workout could have given teams enough to see to prove he is a draftable player, but he may need to work his way onto an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent. 

There is not a single player on the Texas roster that is guaranteed to be selected in this year’s draft. But after the pro day performances that these players put on it is likely that at least one, possibly more, will be selected at some point.


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