Scouts from almost all 32 NFL franchises traveled to Oxford for the Ole Miss Pro Day, where 17 former Rebels showcased their size, speed and skills ahead of the NFL Draft.
The athletes participated in the bench press, various speed and agility drills as well as position drills, much like the scouting combine that took place earlier this month in Indianapolis. Friday was an opportunity for the players who weren’t invited to the combine to show out for the scouts. The players who were invited could also improve their pre-draft grades in a more comfortable environment.
All eyes were on the Jordan Ta’amu, D.K. Metcalf and the rest of the receiving corps as they took the field together for the last time in red and blue. Several scouts remarked that they’d be hard-pressed to find a better group of pass-catchers all from one school.
Metcalf, A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge did not participate in most of the speed and agility drills like the 40-yard dash, understandably, considering their impressive times at the combine. All three receivers stated their belief that those drills aren’t effective tools when measuring a football player.
“That’s not football. I mean I don’t care about that. I was just trying to handle business,” Brown said. “In my opinion, the 40-yard dashes, and stuff like that, that doesn’t tell you if you’re a good football player. The film speaks to that.”
Brown and Metcalf, however, did run the 3-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle on Friday. A.J. Brown posted a 6.89 in the 3-cone and a 4.26 in the 20-yard shuttle while D.K. Metcalf ran a 7.25 in the 3-cone drill, a slight improvement from the 7.38 that raised some red flags at the combine. Either way, teams might decide to overlook Metcalf’s lack of lateral speed when they see the 4.33 40-yard dash time from the 6-foot-3-inch, 229 pound wideout.
“I try to model my game after Julio [Jones] and Calvin Johnson, big receivers that can run fast,” Metcalf said.
Tight End Dawson Knox continues to be one of the most intriguing prospects coming out of Ole Miss. The former walk-on quarterback didn’t have great production Phil Longo’s offense last season, but is still undoubtedly one the more impressive physical athletes in this draft class. Knox refrained from drills in the NFL Combine, but was a full participant on Friday.
Knox posted a 4.57 and a 4.51 in his two 40-yard dashes, both of which were followed by applause from teammates and amazed expressions from scouts. Knox could be a steal in the middle to late rounds of the draft.
“I’m actually pretty pleased with the feedback I’ve gotten. They love the way I can run and create separation,” Knox said. “They know that there’s a lot out there that I can do that I haven’t been able to do yet.”
Position drills soon followed the agility drills. As head coach Matt Luke watched Greg Little, Jordan Sims and Javon Patterson perform lineman drills, the main event was taking place on the other side of the practice field in the Manning Center.
Jordan Ta’amu delivered pass after pass on target to the NWO as the receivers lived up to their famous name. The wideouts showcased their development since the end of the season, running more intricate route patterns than what we’ve seen on tape. Ta’amu also worked more dropping back from under center, something he rarely did at Ole Miss.
“I see myself developing no matter what offense I get into. I’m really coachable. I love learning,” Ta’amu said.
Floyd Allen and Alex Weber also flashed some skills, with a few one-handed and toe-dragging grabs in the endzone.
NFL Rebels like Donte Moncrief, Mike Hilton and Laremy Tunsil were in attendance alongside current players getting a feel for the process for the future.
“It was special,” DaMarkus Lodge said. “We knew it was our last time. We prayed about it and you know we had fun with it. You can’t get these times back so you make the most out of it.”
The NFL Draft will take place April 25-27 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.