FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Colorado State held its annual Pro Day on Wednesday, giving 15 former Rams the opportunity to work out in front of NFL scouts from across the country. In total, 27 scouts and four coaches were on CSU’s campus, representing 29 NFL teams and one from the CFL.
Draft-eligible players who participated were OL Sam Carlson, TE Kivon Cartwright, DL Martavius Foster, RB Jesse Haas, DL Justin Hansen, WR Joe Hansley, WR Rashard Higgins, DL Terry Jackson, LB Cory James, LB SteveO Michel, RB Jasen Oden, Jr., S Kevin Pierre-Louis and TE Steven Walker. Safety Trent Matthews, who had ACL surgery in December, was on hand and participated in the bench press and measurements, while defensive back DeAndre Elliott was measured and met with scouts but chose to use his times from last month’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind. Elliott had a vertical jump of 41 inches and a 20-yard shuttle time of 3.94 seconds, which both ranked second among more than 30 defensive backs at the Combine.
“I feel like we put our best feet forward and came out with a bang today,” Higgins said of the performance of he and his teammates. “Personally, I think I got better today, which is what matters.”
Players began the morning in the weight room where their height, weight, wingspan and bench press were recorded. Foster led all participants with 24 reps on the bench press, while Carlson and Walker each totaled 23. James had 19 reps, Cartwright had 18 and Matthews recorded 16.
From there, the morning transitioned to the Indoor Practice Facility, allowing players to test their vertical and standing board jumps, 40-yard dash, pro shuttle, and three-cone drill. One of the most impressive showings was by James, who had a standing board jump of 10 feet, 7 inches, a vertical of 35 inches and a reported 40-yard dash time of 4.57.
“As a pass-rusher you have to have speed, and I showed that today, which I think will help me down the road,” James said. “I feel like I’m a hard worker and a person who can play anywhere, and that’s what makes me attractive to NFL teams.”
Higgins was also pleased with his performance, posting a reported 40-yard dash time of 4.55 – nine-hundredths of a second quicker than what he ran at the Combine last month in Indianapolis.
“I improved my 40 and my two jumps today,” Higgins said. “More than that, though, I got to show my route-running ability. I take pride in running routes, and where I’m not as fast my route running picks up, which I think gives me an edge.”
Higgins and other players closed the day by participating in individual position-specific drills. Carlson worked with Cincinnati Bengals OL/assistant head coach Paul Alexander on blocking while former Rams superstar and four-time NFL Pro Bowler Joey Porter – now the outside linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers – ran James and the other linebackers through a variety of pass-rushing drills. CSU’s receivers, tight ends and running backs also ran routes and caught passes from quarterback Keith Price, a former standout at the University of Washington.
For many, putting Wednesday behind them was a relief. Now they can focus on continuing to train, talking with NFL teams and waiting for the NFL Draft, which will be held April 28-30 in Chicago, Ill.
- Several current Rams and recent grads were on hand to support their former teammates, as were a couple CSU legends. In addition to Porter, former head coach Sonny Lubick and NFL tight end Joel Dreessen were also in attendance.
- Joe Hansley led all players with a standing vertical jump of 36.5 inches, just ahead of Pierre-Louis (35.5), James (35), Cartwright (34) and Higgins (32.5).
- In addition to Higgins’ 4.55 reported 40, several other Rams showed their speed, including Hansley (4.57), James (4.57), Pierre-Louis (4.60) and Cartwright (4.64).
- CSU is one of 15 schools nationally to have two players selected in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft each of the past two seasons.
(on working out with Joey Porter, who was a CSU graduate assistant during James’ sophomore season)
“He was giving us confidence and good motivation. It was fun having him there.”
(on the advantage of playing multiple positions in 2015)
“I really appreciate Coach (Tyson) Summers for moving me to the middle so I could get those reps this year. I feel like I can play anywhere.”
(on speed as a linebacker)
“As a pass-rusher, speed is important, but more than that, you have to be a smart football player and get quick reads. People like Shaq (Barrett), Aaron (Davis) and Max (Morgan) showed that. They weren’t the fastest, but they were great players because they were smart.”
(on talking with former Rams about what to expect during this experience)
“I’ve talked to a lot of guys who have been at the next level, guys like Shaq (Barrett) and Joey (Porter) and Bernard Blake. The biggest thing they’ve told me is to learn the playbook once you’re on a team.”
(on the Pro Day experience)
“It goes by pretty fast. Just like that, in the snap of a finger, it’s done. It was pretty nerve-wracking, but going to the College Gridiron Showcase helped me a lot and prepared me for today.”
(on what an NFL team would get in him)
“They’re getting a playmaker who can make the catch in tough situations. Third down, you can always go to me and know that I’ll catch the ball.”
(on route running being a strength of his)
“I give credit to Coach (Jim) McElwain. Coming in my freshman year, we ran about every route. Knowing that and taking that to the NFL, I think that can take me a long way and put me a step ahead of other receivers.”
(on his experience at the NFL Combine)
“It was a great experience. They work you hard, so it was good to know what teams in the NFL expect of you. I talked to about 15 teams at the Combine – formal and informal meetings – and they kept telling me to be who I am.”
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