Crimson Tide football players strive to impress NFL scouts and coaches at Pro Day
The previous seasons for college and NFL have long since passed, the highly anticipated signing day for incoming college freshmen came and went, and now it’s time to prepare for the NFL draft coming in a few weeks. Several schools around the country host a pro day where the schools eligible players have a change to impress NFL scouts and coaches. Today The University of Alabama held its annual pro day with 13 draft-eligible Crimson Tide players participating. All 32 NFL teams were represented in the Hank-Crisp Indoor practice facility and in attendance were some big names in the industry such as head coaches Sean Payton (Saints), Marvin Lewis (Bengals) and Chip Kelly (Eagles) along with general managers Mickey Loomis (Saints), Jerry Reese (Giants) and Rick Spielman (Vikings).
“We feel like when it comes to development of players to play football, a lot of guys really want the opportunity to play in the National Football League,” Saban said. “To get this interest and representation from the league to give our players are opportunity is certainly what we would like for each one of our players to have.
Draft-eligible Crimson Tide athletes that participated were: Kenny Bell, Deion Belue, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Cade Foster, John Fulton, Adrian Hubbard, Cyrus Kouandjio, Cody Mandell, AJ McCarron, C.J. Mosley, Kevin Norwood, Tana Patrick and Ed Stinson.
Most of Alabama’s NFL hopefuls ran at the Scouting Combine last month at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, but there were a few that wanted another chance to demonstrate their abilities and possibly increase their draft stock. There were a couple that primarily participated in an effort to locked up their first round status such as C.J. Mosely, and HaHa Clinton-Dix, but there were others such as Kenny Bell, and Kevin Norwood and AJ McCarron that wanted another shot to impress.
Scott Cochran was on hand to scream and yell and do what he does best to motivate the NFL draftees and maybe that is what Kenny Bell needed as he had the fastest 40-yard dash of the day with an unofficial 4:48 followed by Deion Belue with a 4:49. C.J. Mosley and Tana Patrick both came in a time of 4:70.
Cyrus Kouandjio worked on position drills as he demonstrated quick foot work, and technique trying to secure a spot in the draft while keeping the steady stream of Alabama offensive lineman to the NFL intact. “My plan for this Pro Day was to do field work and my foot work to show what I can do on the field, and then on the 8th [of April] I’ll do the running stuff. My goal is to show a dramatic increase from the last time I got timed.” Kouandjio said.
Head Coach Nick Saban defended Kouandjio when asked about recent comments regarding his knees. Saban quickly retorted that he “I’m not a doctor but Cyrus played every game here since he came back (from the knee injury). It wouldn’t be a concern for me because I’ve watched the guy perform after his injury very effectively”. He then went on to say that “The teams we talked to, I can’t find anybody that failed the guy on the physical” Cyrus Kouandjio followed up later in the day with comments stating “There’s nothing wrong with my knee”.
Kenny Bell seemed to have had a good day with a screaming 40-yard dash, catching the deep ball and crossing routes from McCarron and doing very well in the agility drills. He didn’t seem to get winded or tired in the position and agility drills and looked to be in amazing shape. Going into today, Bell may have had the most to prove to the NFL scouts and coaches, but he also had the most to gain from an impressive day. After the blazing time, good foot work, and over-all a very good day, he may have done just that.
Towards the end of the day former quarterback AJ McCarron went through his position drills in front of the coaches and scouts. He, along with Bell seemed to have the largest chip on their shoulder and wanted to prove to everyone that they had what it takes to play at the next level. McCarron went through his progressions with ease, made several “out” passes, and deep ball throws which is what he wanted to prove that he could do. He also wanted to show that he could be mobile in the pocket and roll out while making a long pass down the sidelines. “It felt great – from hearing [concerns] about arm strength and deep outs and comebacks, I felt like today should silence all that. I threw it deep early on in the workout and I threw it deep later on so it was a good day.” McCarron said.
With so many eyes trained on the individual player it’s easy to get nervous. But ultimately this is their job interview, to demonstrate what they can do when it matters and make an organization want them on their roster. McCarron summed up what his Pro Day experience was after his drills but his comments can probably apply to most players in his situation “I’ve been playing football since I was three years old…This was my chance to make it all count and to fulfill a dream I’ve had since I was three”.
The NFL Draft will be held May 8-10, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City
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