Former Rebels showcased their size, speed and skills in front of scouts from almost all 32 NFL franchises during Ole Miss Pro Day on Friday.
The 17 athletes participated in the bench press, various speed and agility drills and position drills, much like they did in the NFL Scouting Combine 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 ahead of the NFL Draft. The players who were invited could also improve their pre-draft grades in a more comfortable environment.
All eyes were on 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, which is understandable considering their impressive times at the combine. All three receivers agreed 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 three-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle on Friday. A.J. Brown posted a 6.89 in the three-cone and a 4.26 in the 20-yard shuttle, while D.K. Metcalf ran a 7.25 in the three-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 time in the 40-yard dash 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 out of Ole Miss. The former walk-on quarterback didn’t have great production on Phil Longo’s offense last season, but he is still undoubtedly one the more impressive physical athletes in this draft class. Knox refrained from drills in the NFL Scouting 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 and 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 came after 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 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 at dropping back from under center, something he rarely did at Ole Miss.
“I see myself developing no matter what offense I get into,” Ta’amu said. “I’m really coachable. I love learning.”
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 who were getting a feel for the process for the future.
“It was special,” 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.