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Playing professionally (UT pro day recap by Mike Roach)

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submitted Today, 10:03 AM in Texas Longhorns Football By Mike Roach
 

The Texas football program reached a new low when no Longhorn player was selected during the 2014 NFL Draft. Looking to get back on the board in 2015, UT hosted it’s annual pro timing day event on Tuesday.

Pro days have become a big event within the evolution of the draft, and represent the last milestone on the calendar for prospective athletes to make their mark before the NFL draft. Pro days can be a make or break event when it comes to draft position, and most of the Longhorns made Tuesday’s event work in their favor.

The Headliners

Malcom Brown – Defensive Tackle
Texas fans knew Brown was destined to be selected high after he rampaged through an All-American level junior year at Texas. Brown participated in the NFL scouting combine in February where he helped himself, and he understandably chose to stand on his testing results from that event. However, Brown participated in positional drills on Tuesday, being put to work by coaches from various teams. The Detroit Lions are said to be high on Brown following the departure Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, but there are questions whether Brown will still be available when the Lions pick in the first round (23).

 

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Measurables:

  • 6’2, 319 pounds
  • 5.05 40-yard dash
  • 26 repetitions on bench press (225 lbs)
  • 29.5” vertical jump
  • 7.84 3 cone drill
  • 4.59 20-yard shuttle

What scouts are saying:
Scouts noted improvement from his sophomore to junior year. His strengths are considered to be quickness, athleticism, strength, hands, and instincts. As for weaknesses, scouts complain that he is not always physical at the point of attack and only has average power in his lower body – as a result he struggles against double teams. Scouts would like to see Brown improve his pass rush technique.
Bottom Line: Penetrating big man who took a huge step forward as an NFL prospect in 2014. Brown has hand quickness and uses hands like an NFL starter. His instincts and feel off the snap help him to get into the backfield quickly. Some personnel men believe Brown can play multiple spots along the line in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, which could put him in play for a high number of teams – NFL.com

Stock: High to mid 1st Round Pick

Jordan Hicks – Outside Linebacker
Hicks came to Texas a highly touted prospect that struggled to reach his potential as he fought through injuries and trouble off the field. Hicks flourished under the new coaching staff, having a strong senior season and performing well at the NFL Scouting Combine. Like Brow, Hicks chose to stand on his testing numbers from that event. The Texas ‘backer performed well in drills on Tuesday, showing off his athleticism and versatility.

 

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Measurables:

  • 6’1, 236 pounds
  • 4.68 40-yard dash
  • 20 repetitions on bench press (225 lbs)
  • 38’ vertical jump (combine best)
  • 6.78 3 cone drill (combine best)
  • 4.15 20-yard shuttle

What scouts are saying:
Great looking frame with the right size and speed. Smart and passionate player who works hard in the weight room and on the field. The Texas staff reported to scouts that he has tremendous football character and understands how to prepare. He is a good tackler who doesn’t miss often, and can play outside of the box. Field discipline improved under Charlie Strong. Scouts point out that while he puts a lot of work into preparation, they question his field instincts and ability to freelance outside of a system. His play recognition is slower than you would like and they question his strength at the point of attack along with his injury history.

"He'll probably be a coach after he's done with football. He loves it that much. His problem is that it's hard to project the player fitting into his traits because he struggles to make plays outside of the scheme." -- AFC area scout

"Hicks needed the discipline that Charlie Strong brought with him. I saw enough improvement this year to give him a much higher grade than I had on him back in September." -- NFC East scout

Stock: Late 3rd-6th round pick

Quandre Diggs – Defensive Back
Diggs was a big presence in his four years at Texas, even if that presence was packed into a small package. A four-year starter for the Longhorns who competed at the scouting combine, Diggs also chose to stand on his testing numbers. Diggs is thought of as a nickel back at the professional level that can cover in the slot and be used on special teams.

 

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Measurables:

  • 5’9, 196 pounds
  • 4.56 40-yard dash
  • 17 repetitions on bench press (225 lbs)
  • 35.5” vertical jump
  • 7.22 3 cone drill
  • 4.15 20-yard shuttle

What Scouts are saying: 
Intelligent player who possesses plus instincts. Attacks the pass and is fearless in coverage. Good fluidity and a willing tackler. Strong player who rarely leaves the field and has versatility to play inside or outside. His weaknesses include body size and a lack of top end speed. He struggles in short area quickness and to shed blocks at the point of attack.

“He's got draftable qualities and he showed great improvement this year. I'm just not sure what to do with him because he's too small to play outside, and teams in our division are good at slot corners. He's short and slow and that makes him matchup-deficient." -- NFC South area scout

Diggs has started 80 percent of his games during his four years at Texas. He's battle-tested against some of the most explosive wide receivers in the country and has developed into a mentally tough player. Diggs will have to be a slot cornerback and will need to keep his weight down in order to match up with the speed he will see from the slot. Diggs is a Day 3 (Rounds 4-7) draft candidate who can help himself by running well in pre-draft drills. –NFL.com

Stock: Late Round pick

Malcolm Brown – Running Back
Brown came to Texas as a superstar runner, and was projected to make an impact the moment he reached campus. Plagued by injuries early in his career, then by a struggling offensive system later in his tenure, Brown never reached the heights that were projected for him. Brown was a four year contributor who played hard and was has a spotless reputation off the field. He competed at the combine but chose to run again on Tuesday, turning in good results.

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Measurables:

  • 5’11, 224 pounds
  • 4.62 40-yard dash (combine)
  • 4.44 40-yard dash (pro day)
  • 19 repetitions on bench press (225 lbs)
  • 34.5” vertical jump
  • 6.86 3 cone drill (combine best)
  • 4.15 20-yard shuttle

What Scouts are saying:
Strong finisher who delivers contact, can break arm tackles and falls forward at the end of runs. Plus blocker and capable pass receiver. No hesitation as a runner with a strong work ethic and high character. Weaknesses include a lack of top end speed and a resulting lack of explosive plays. He lacks creativity in the open field and rounds off cuts. Scouts doubt his ability to run outside and think he will make his living as an inside power back.

"I was really down on Brown because so much was expected of him when he came to Texas. The more I'm around him and the more I watch him on tape, the more I think that he can be a quality backup in the NFL who can step in and do a serviceable job if called on to start." -- AFC South scout

Stock: Rising as a 4th-6th round pick

Potential to play professionally

John Harris – Wide Receiver
Harris enjoyed a breakout senior season after being a non-factor for the majority of his career. Undoubtedly the best playmaker on the field for an anemic Longhorn offense this season, Harris saw his draft stock go up as a result. Harris did not receive an invitation to the combine and will have to deal with criticisms of being a one year wonder. Harris performed well at Tuesday’s Pro day, with a very strong workout that included a 4.50 40 yard dash. With his 6’3” frame, Harris tested well enough and has the production to sneak into the back end of the draft.

Stock: Rising – 6th-7th round pick

Jaxon Shipley – Wide Receiver
Shipley was expected to be everything his brother was in Austin, and though he struggled through injuries, the four-year starter played his heart out for the Longhorns. Shipley ran well at Pro Day, turning in a reported 4.45 40 yard dash, but only had nine repetitions on the bench press. As expected he performed well in passing drills and could possibly get selected in a late round if scouts see something they really like.

Stock: Slightly rising – Late round pick or UDFA

Cedric Reed – Defensive End
A torn meniscus came at the worst time for Reed, who passed on a chance at the NFL to return to Texas for his senior season. While he was a force at times for the Longhorn defense, a senior year hampered by injuries is costing him in terms of draft buzz and interest from teams. Reed’s injury prevented him from running in the combine or at pro day but he did post 22 reps on the bench press. At this point Reed is being underrated in scouts’ eyes, but other than game tape, Reed is viewed as an unknown.

Stock: Falling – Late round pick or UDFA

Nate Boyer – Deep Snapper
The former Green Beret has a chance to make it into camp as a long snapper and special teams coverage player if he can find the right situation. Boyer interviews incredibly well, but that won’t be enough to earn him more than a camp invitation.

Geoff Swaim – Tight End
The physical blocker turned in a better than expected 40 time (4.62) and tested well in most of the athletic events. His pro day was good enough to make an NFL camp for a shot to hang on. More than any other player, Swaim used Pro Day to his advantage – simply put, Swaim made it difficult for teams not to notice him.

Mykkelle Thompson – Defensive back
The inconsistent defender turned in stellar testing results, as expected, and could get an invite with the chance to hang on as a special teams player. Like Swaim, Thompson used Tuesday’s platform to his advantage.

Steve Edmond – Middle Linebacker
Edmond had a productive senior season, but turned in a 40 time of 4.94 at Pro Day, and struggled with flexibility in positional drills. His playing style is quickly being phased out in a passing league. Edmond will likely receive a camp invitation, but is going to have to prove his worth as a special teams player before having an opportunity at linebacker. 

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