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Auburn Pro Day: a recap

Sign No. 1,931 that the thirst for college football coverage in the state of Alabama knows no bounds: yesterday’s Auburn Pro Day was a big deal. Every writer on the Auburn beat was there, Tweeting and writing and snapping photos and shooting video.

Nevermind that Pro Day amounts to nothing more than “departed Auburn players go through drills,” nevermind that it has nothing to do with Auburn’s actual, you know, team; it’s college football, kind of, and with the Winter Olympics just behind us and the annual March college hoops assault in full swing, even kind-of college football is something we need, dammit.

So here’s a recap and links galore from yesterday’s festivities:

— With Ben Tate ignoring most drills–even declining to have his height measured–and Antonio Coleman having gotten at least a half-shot at impressing the pro scouts at the NFL Combine, I’d say that of Auburn’s three legitimate draft prospects Pro Day was most important to Walt McFadden.

Little wonder, then, he seemed to have the best Pro Day amongst any of the Auburn athletes there. Achievements unlocked included:

1. A 4.39 40-yard dash that would have placed him first amongst all defensive backs at the combine, ahead of freaks like Taylor Mays, Eric Berry, the two Alabama cornerbacks, etc.

2. Measuring at 5-11 and just over 180 pounds. Apparently that’s bigger than McFadden had previously been listed at.

3. A performance in the “three-cone drill” that left scouts visibly impressed.

Projections have McFadden going as high as the third round, but last year’s Pro Day helped vault Jerraud Powers past even the most optimistic projections into the third round. McFadden was never quite as dominant as Powers was pre-injury in the early 2008 season, but after yesterday, maybe he can hope for a similar vault up someone’s draft board. (That Powers was so successful as a rookie has to help, you’d think.)

— Looking over the stories out of the Pro Day, Coleman may have been happy with how he performed, but it’s also pretty clear that his quad injury is still bugging him. That he’s dropped several pounds from his already on-the-slim-side-for-a-DE playing weight tells me he’s looking to catch on as an outside linebacker in someone’s 3-4 … as does the fact he mentioned precisely how many NFL teams (16) are running the 3-4 these days.

With McFadden stealing the show on the results sheet and Gabe McKenzie allegedly winning the “eyeball test,” Coleman might have been a bit overshadowed yesterday, which can’t help his stock. But when he says this:

“I’m just looking for an opportunity,” Coleman said. “Whatever opportunity presents itself — first, fourth, seventh — all I need is an opportunity. I know I’m a hard worker, and I know I’ll make the team.”

I have to think he’s right. Still: the higher up the draft ladder you go, the more embarrassing it is for a team to have to let you go after one training camp. Hopefully the scouts take a harder look at what he accomplished the second half of last year on the football field than in these workouts.

— The other headline story from yesterday was, as mentioned, Gabe McKenzie showing up having been chiseled out of granite. It wasn’t just looks, though: he tied with Brad Lester (!) for most bench press reps, finished second behind Lester in the vertical jump, and second behind Montez Billings in the broad jump.

What this means for his professional future, I have no idea. Maybe it’s enough for a free-agent invite. But it kind of begs the question once again: why did two straight coaching staffs have so much of a problem finding a way to get this guy involved as something more than a backup DE?

— Pretty cool that former Auburn track star and Jamaican decathlon Olympic representative Maurice Smith gave it a go, but it’s hard to see NFL teams taking a shot at a guy who’s never played football and only put up so-so numbers.

— Oh, Jake Ricks and Robert Johnson, getting beaten by Chris Todd in a 40-yard dash cannot be good.

— Here’s to hoping some NFL team gives Lester a free-agent shot. If he’s healthy and as in as good of shape as his numbers from yesterday seem to indicate, he’s got be worth a roster spot to someone. His ability was never the problem, was it?

— Pretty cool photo gallery at the bottom of this post, the highlight of which is definitely Todd performing the vertical jump. Lots of good quotes in the Evan Woodbery story here.

Sly Croom sighting! Wonder if his presence is an omen that the Rams might be interested in Tate.

Photo by Van Emst.

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