There were a total of 76 NFL scouts and representatives from all 32 teams on hand Friday during Ohio State's Pro Day, including two head coaches, the Steelers' Mike Tomlin and the Bengals' Marvin Lewis. Fourteen former Buckeye players showcased their talent in hopes of playing ball at the next level. While only four players were invited to the official NFL Draft Combine last month, this was a chance for the others to show their prospective worth.
Devin Smith and Doran Grant both chose to stick with their combine dash times and forego re-doing the workout. With both Michael Bennett and Jeff Heuerman sitting out of the dash and position drills during last month's combine, this was their chance to show they are healthy enough to join a professional team. Heuerman had a great showing with both runs and his position drills. Bennett's first attempt at the 40 was good, but as he was finishing the second attempt, his hamstring injury flared up leaving him to limp off the practice field.
They may have missed a year in the league, but there were three former Buckeye players who haven't given up on their dream to play professional ball, those include Marcus Hall (OL), Chris Fields (WR), and George Makridis (LS).
Marcus Hall of course lives on in Ohio State folklore as the guy who shared his middle fingers with the entire crowd at Michigan in 2013. He was briefly signed to the Indianapolis Colts as an unrestricted free agency in May 2014, but never had the chance to join the final roster. His workout in Columbus showed that he is as quick and flexible as ever. He can still get down low, eject quickly from a set position and move his feet.
Chris Fields ran an impressive 40-yard dash and was able to show good hand placement and catching ability. Former Ohio State captain and Heisman winning quarterback Troy Smith was in charge of passing for the wide receiver drills. Fields was consistent and had one great catch by his finger tips. His effort made up for any over-thrown passes by Smith.
Both Devin Smith and Evan Spencer performed well in front of the scouts during the receiving drills. Each player had a few missed catches, but Troy Smith's accuracy was a little inconsistent. Devin Smith missed one perfect pass that went straight through his hands, but he noted afterward that NFL scouts liked that he focused on catching the ball with his hands and not his body. You can actually hear his soft hands catch the ball; as it hits the pocket, it makes a noise that sounds like a secure catch. Smith confirmed that he set a meeting with the Cleveland Browns at today's pro day.
Evan Spencer has great hands and a natural catching ability. Quarterback accuracy is one of the things that can impact his game the most. If he lands with an NFL team that isn't consistent behind center, he may struggle with off target passes. He should have made a good impression on the scouts by landing a 10'4 broad jump and having a quick start to the 40-yard dash.
Jeff Heuerman was the only tight end at the workout. His 40-yard dash was good, but more importantly showed strength in his injured ankle. He is only two months into recovery but he already looks healthy enough for NFL teams to give him a second look. He secured every catch-able pass during the receiving drills and was able to land a 10'0 broad jump.
Offensive lineman Darryl Baldwin was able to secure a workout with the Carolina Panthers after his workout at pro day, which included a surprisingly fast 40-yard dash time, an almost 9'0 broad jump and posted 30 reps on the bench press. Baldwin spoke to reporters after his workout and mentioned Chase Farris as the guy most likely to step up into the starting role next season; Farris has the work ethic to be successful.
When asked who he thinks will be the next surprise stars, Baldwin named Terry McLaurin and Sam Hubbard. He followed up on Hubbard (someone who is always mentioned by Urban Meyer and players, but hasn't had much playing time), "He's put on a lot of weight this off-season ... [He has] a motor that doesn't stop."
Steve Miller, defensive lineman, was another player to have a good showing in front of the scouts. He participated in the 40-yard dash, cleared a 9'6 broad jump and showed incredible strength during position drills. During his workouts with the training dummies, he threw them to the ground with such force it drew onlookers attention. His size limits how quick he is on the edge, but he showed that if he can't go around someone, he'll just go through them. When asked how he was able to focus on such an important day, "I treated it like a game, zoned them [media and scouts] out."
Linebacker Curtis Grant setup a meeting with the Minnesota Vikings after running the 40-yard dash and landing a 10'5 broad jump (tying for the best of the day). During the position drills, he showed decent arm strength, but was very agile around the corners; he had good hands during the catching drills and showed off quick feet and good stopping ability.
Doran Grant had his time in the limelight at the combine in Indy, but still participated in a few of the drills at pro day. Smart move by the coveted cornerback, he was able to increase his broad jump by nearly a foot from that at the combine (9'6 versus 10'5). He wants NFL teams to know that he can cover and has a lot of versatility in the backfield. Grant admitted he grew up a Cowboys fan and "likes the star", but he may actually get a chance to play for his favorite team as he announced he's been contacted by the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
- Urban Meyer was talking to Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis who was pointing to and watching Doran Grant during his position drills.
- New GA and former player Jimmy Cordle was talking to reps from his former NFL team the New York Giants.
- Jeff Heuerman was shaking hands with several NFL scouts while other players were doing their position workouts.
- One scout from the Steelers was directly in front of almost each and every position drill.