Sun Devils work out for NFL scouts at ASU Pro Day

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By Brad Denny By Brad Denny

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The 2014 NFL Draft is still over two months, but the preparations continue for future pro hopefuls.

Last month, Arizona State's Will Sutton, Carl Bradford and Marion Grice took part in the NFL's Scouting Combine, although Grice did not do any on field drills as he continues his recovery from a broken fibula. On Friday, those three were joined by the rest of their draft eligible teammates, plus some ASU alumni and NFL veterans in working out for NFL scouts at Sun Devil Stadium.

The day started in the weight room with the vertical and broad jumps and the bench press.

Among the leaders in the vertical jumps were defensive backs Alden Darby (33.5 inches) and Marlon Pollard (36.5). Defensive lineman Gannon Conway also impressed with a tremendous pair of leaps.

A pair of Sun Devil defensive linemen led the way with impressive showings. Davon Coleman put up 35 reps of 225 pounds, while Conway did 30. Sutton and Bradford did not lift, resting on their Combine totals of 24 for Sutton and 23 for Bradford.

Other bench press totals: tight end Chris Coyle (16), offensive tackle Even Finkenberg (26), linebacker Anthony Jones (16), linebacker Steffon Martin (24), wide receiver Kevin Ozier (10), running back R.J. Robinson (15), tight end Darwin Rogers (23), defensive tackle Jake Sheffield (25), linebacker Grandville Taylor (16), and linebacker Chris Young (15). Darby did not lift as he tweaked his shoulder during training.

The action then moved out to the field for the 40-yard dash and positional drills. 

Bradford improved his Combine 40-yard time of 4.72 seconds with a 4.64. Sutton also lowered his Combine time of 5.36 down to 5.10. Defensive back Robert Nelson led the way with a 4.46, while the 280-pound Conway continued his good day with a time of 4.80. 

Other notable (unofficial) 40-yard times: wide receiver Alozno Agwuenu (4.40), Coleman (5.08), Coyle (4.88), Darby (4.46), cornerback Osahon Irabor (4.48), Martin (4.63), Ozier (4.46), Rogers (4.79), and Young (4.75).

Several former Sun Devil players and NFL veterans also participated in Pro Day. LeQuan Lewis posted the best time of the day with a 4.30 time, while ASU's all-time leading receiver Derek Hagan had a 4.65. Hagan, who has 129 receptions over seven NFL seasons, hopes to continue his career, but is also working on getting into broadcasting.

Many draft hopefuls, like Bradford, felt that they increased their stock as a result of the day's workouts.

"I was satisfied with it," said Bradford. "My 40 improved from the Combine. That was one of the things I wanted to prove, that I was faster than a 4.75. They (NFL scouts) loved the way I moved, loved the way I did my drills, seeing my move my happens and seeing me be coachable. They had all positive things to say."

Bradford's athleticism has long been heralded, and when asked where NFL teams have told him they like him, it provided yet another example.

"I have positions from across the board from rush end to SAM backer, WILL, inside," Bradford said. "I even got a 3-tech (defensive tackle) in passing downs. I even got fullback."

Cornerback Osahon Irabor, who has bulked up to 190 pounds, said that his stock "most definitely" went up after today.

"I had a chance to get out here in front of the scouts so that they could see you in person," Irabor said. "It's always a good opportunity, especially to talk to some of the guys. Overall, it was a good day."

On the other end was Coyle, who felt that some of his measureables, principally his 40-yard time, could have been better, although he did excel in his position drills.

"Today went pretty well," Coyle said. "There were some numbers that I could have done better at. I can out here, did my best, and showed them the type of football player I am, especially in position drills. I knew that was where I was going to do real well. I was able to break down and I caught everything that came my way."

While many draft pundits have thought Coyle would move to fullback in the NFL, the feedback he has received from teams at this point indicates he'll remain at tight end.

"From talking to teams, they really want to use me the same way as they did here as that H-back, that guy who does a little bit of slot receiver, a move tight end," Coyle said. "A guy that can get to the edge and have that advantage on linebackers and edge blocks."

Grice did some position work, and while he says that he is fully recovered from his broken fibula suffered in November against UCLA, he refrained from running and instead will hold his own Pro Day at ASU on April 8.

"I'm feeling fine, I just need some extra time to get myself prepared," Grice said. "Now I know that I can run and everything. That's what I'm excited about. I can run routes and catch the ball. Now I just need to train."

As for his expectations for draft day given his recovery, Grice said that he just wants to find a way into the league.

"I just want to get picked. I just want a job offer."

For players like Darby who weren't invited to the Combine, Pro Day offers them a great chance to make a major impression with scouts. Darby was "pleased" with his performance, and said that he is not worried about being absent from the Combine.

"My path is different. Everything happens for a reason," Darby said about not getting a Combine invite. "I can't sit and be mad. It is what it is, and I'm not going to stress about it."

"A lot of them were telling me 'I can't believe you weren't in the Combine.' It was just funny to hear all of that," said Irabor.

Former ASU punter Josh Hubner worked out for scouts, and had several booming punts. He told me one NFC team is very interested in him, and will participate in an upcoming combine that he feels should get him into a camp. 

Pro Day also marked the last time these players will work out at Sun Devil Stadium, a fact not lost on some of the players.

"I'm going to miss it," said Bradford. "A lot of great years here and a lot of great memories with my teammates and coaches."

Other Notes:

  • Alden Darby is visiting the New England Patriots on March 17th.
  • Davon Coleman's first team visit is on April 16th with the Dallas Cowboys.
  • The Cardinals have been in contact with Bradford about bringing him in for a visit.
  • Former Sun Devils in attendance: Andrew Walter, Rashad Ross, and Deveron Carr.

NFL teams in attendance: Houston, Denver, Buffalo, New Orleans, Washington, Jacksonville, New England, Kansas City, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Arizona, Atlanta, Miami , Chicago, Indianapolis, Carolina, Baltimore, New York Jets, St. Louis, Green Bay, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Oakland.