Oklahoma State held their Pro Day on Tuesday at the Cowboy practice facility with 15 players taking part in the action (though Justice Hill and Sione Finefeuiaki did not work out).
With it now behind them, there were a few thoughts that crossed my mind in regards to what went down in the Sherman E. Smith Center Tuesday morning.
All 32 teams in town
Yes, most were scouts, but it says something about the reputation of Oklahoma State and Mike Gundy that every NFL team felt the need to have someone in attendance. Maybe that’s commonplace, but I highly doubt it. Maybe there were no other Pro Days going on so it was easy to send everyone. Possible.
We should probably mention that OU is holding their pro day on Wednesday, so having scouts already in the state a day early makes some sense. They’re already headed that way, why not make a stop in Stillwater and check things out.
Or maybe, despite the lack of players drafted (14 since 2011) or the number of them that make it in the league long-term, teams have come to appreciate the kind of players Oklahoma State produces. For every Justin Blackmon, there’s a Vincent Taylor and Chris Carson. For every Justin Gilbert, there’s a Blake Jarwin and a Lane Taylor.
Oklahoma State isn’t Alabama, they’re not producing multiple first round picks each year, let alone one a year, but they’re producing quality players that teams want to, at worse, get a closer look at.
Justice Hill to Cincinnati?
Last year, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was in Stillwater for the Oklahoma State’s Pro Day. He spent time talking with quarterback Mason Rudolph, and even had dinner with James Washington, before eventually drafting both players into the NFL the following May.
Coaches traveling to pro day isn’t unusual, but it does mean more than just sending a Scout, which leads us to Justice Hill.
Current Cincinnati running backs coach, and former OSU running backs coach, Jamal Singleton made the trip to Stillwater for Pro Day. Not to leap to conclusions, but with Hill the only running back in attendance on Tuesday, you’d have to think he was in town to meet with the Cowboy ball carrier.
The Bengals could be on the market for a running back. They have former Sooner Joe Mixon who put up 1,168 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 4.9 yards-per-carry. But, he’s backed up by seven year veteran Giovani Bernard who, while still solid, is on the downward trend. Third stringer Mark Walton’s future is up in the air after a battery charge earlier this year.
All that said, the Benglas have other needs bigger than running back, including linebacker, offensive tackle, and quarterback.
Obviously it’s all speculative, and Singleton may be evaluating other players, but after Hill’s impressive performance at the NFL Combine, he would make a nice addition to the Cincinnati roster and a nice replacement from Bernard in a season or two.
Or the Bengals are just checking on a guy their division rival could be interested in.
Taylor Cornelius Makes the Most of His Day
This is going to shock the Cornelius haters, but the Cowboy quarterback had a nice pro day, showing off some real athleticism.
TC reportedly ran a 40-time around 4.6, which would have in the top five at the NFL combine. Throw in a 38-inch vertical — which would have been tops at the combine —, a 9-foot, 11-inch broad jump — which would have ranked 3rd — and the passes he tossed around, and Cornelius made the most of his opportunity to try and impress the NFL scouts in attendance.
“I think it shows my athleticism,” Cornelius said of his Pro Day to GoPokes.com. “That’s something a lot of people didn’t know that I had. I want to prove everything that I can. (I went) for a couple weeks I went out to San Diego and worked with Todd Durkin. Then I came back here and worked with Coach Glass and he’s been getting me where I need to be.”
Cornelius is unlikely to be drafted unless some team decides to take a chance on him late. That said, I can see him getting a camp invite to a team afterwards. What he does with it, will be up to him.
Tyron Johnson is Getting Drafted
No one had as impressive a showing at OSU’s Pro Day as wide receiver Tyron Johnson, who put up some really good numbers.
- A 40-time in the 4.3s (Top 10 at Combine)
- 16 bench reps (Top 15 at Combine)
- And according to Michael Doutey, he “looked great running routes and catching passes.”
Multiple pro scouts took opportunities to speak with Johnson, but one team in particular showed some real interest; Kansas City.
Tyron Johnson is running some drills orchestrated by a KC Chiefs scout. Raiders, Lions, Chargers, Colts, Packers & 49ers scouts are observing. pic.twitter.com/pvvq8DZQtw— Michael Doutey (@mike_doutey) March 12, 2019
Heck, his performance was enough to catch the attention of at least one fantasy football writer.
I’ve always thought Johnson would get drafted. Now, I’m all but sure of it. It may be Day 3, but that’s fine. Johnson has the athleticism, skills, and speed to make it on an NFL team, especially one with a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes, and other weapons around him.
Although, how rough would it be to watch Johnson and Tyreek Hill, OSU’s two most under-utilized weapons of the Gundy era, lining up opposite each other for the Chiefs, tearing up the league.
The Other Guys Get Their Shot
In multiple interviews, I’ve had guys who cover the NFL tell me the same thing; don’t take Pro Days too seriously. Everyone is better at their Pro Day. They run faster, jump higher, lift more.
But for guys who don’t get an NFL combine invite, like 13 of the 15 Cowboys in attendance, this was their one big chance to show just what they could do.
For guys like offensive guard Larry Williams, it was another shot to impress scouts. Williams took part in Pro Day last year before he knew the NCAA would grant him a sixth season. He didn’t disappoint, improving on last season’s performance and putting up the best bench press of the day with 25 reps of 225 pounds.
“It was very nerve-wracking just a little, but I felt more comfortable compared to last year because my ankle felt better,” Williams told the Stillwater News Press. “I feel like I prepared better to take on this day. It obviously showed. I had some better numbers and lower weight. I feel like it was pretty good.”
Most of the other guys, like Williams, Justin Phillips, Shane Richards, and Enoch Smith Jr., probably won’t hear their names called during the draft. But that doesn’t mean they won’t get a call. Scouts aren’t just looking for draftees, they’re looking for camp invitees, guys who they want a chance to bring in and get another look at, test the waters with.
There are former OSU players one NFL rosters right now, like Lenzy Pipkens and Jarwin, who are on NFL rosters despite not being drafted.
So now, Pro Days may not make a major difference on whether or not a team drafts you. But for non-combine invitees, it’s the opportunity to make a lasting impression that could be the difference between an NFL career, or not.