10 FCS players facing important pro days
(STATS) - The major all-star games and NFL Combine passed last year without involving the likes of Princeton tight end Seth DeValve and linebackers Kamu Grugier-Hall of Eastern Illinois and Trevor Bates of Maine.
Yet all three players were selected in the NFL Draft following their impressive performance at a pro day.
DeValve, who produced numbers that were comparable to tight ends at the Combine, was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round. Grugier-Hall went to the New England Patriots in the sixth round following his monster pro day. The Indianapolis Colts liked enough of what they saw in Bates that they kept him after Maine's pro day to run him through more drills.
A pro day is one of the final opportunities for a player to impress teams before the draft, which this year will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia. It can lead to a draft selection or to an undrafted free agent contract.
FCS players usually have to prove themselves more than FBS prospects. Here are 10 hopefuls who face important pro days:
Keionta Davis, DE, Chattanooga - It was possible Davis wasn't 100 percent healthy at the NFL Combine because he skipped the workouts. His big lower body doesn't translate to exceptional speed or fluidity, so a 40-yard dash in the 4.8-second range is important. Chattanooga pro day: March 30
Anthony Firkser, TE, Harvard - With the Crimson having become a production line of NFL-level tight ends (Kyle Juszczyk, Cameron Brate and Ben Braunecker), Firkser hopes to show his athleticism for a variety of possibilities (tight end, fullback, H-back). His strength will be monitored as he gradually adds bulk to his 2016 playing weight (230 pounds). Harvard pro day: March 13
Brady Gustafson, QB, Montana - Gustafson never was the "next Carson Wentz" despite some of the early comparisons, so scouts want to get an up-close look at his skill set. The 6-foot-5½ Gustafson will want to display improved foot work and a quicker, crisper ball release. Montana pro day: March 13
Lorenzo Jerome, S, Saint Francis - The Red Flash haven't had an NFL Draft selection since 1945. Jerome had a strong postseason at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and Reese's Senior Bowl, but he disappointed at the NFL Combine with a slow time of 4.70 seconds. He will want to lower it. Saint Francis pro day: March 16
Landon Lechler, OT, North Dakota State - Lechler has been overshadowed on the Bison's excellent offensive line, including by its other prospect, guard Zack Johnson. But the three-year starter's 6-7, 306-pound size is undeniable, and he's played in many big games in a pro-style system. His speed and strength will be sized up at pro day. North Dakota State pro day: March 29
Ezra Robinson, CB, Tennessee State - Invites to the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine bode well for a corner coming off an excellent senior season. But he's borderline draftable in a deep class of defensive backs, so he'll want to impress beyond his ball skills and speed. Tennessee State pro day: March 17
Karter Schult, DE, Northern Iowa - At 6-2½, 263 pounds, the 2016 STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award winner is a bit of a tweener for an NFL defensive lineman, so testing well will boost what may not be a draftable grade at this point. He made some nice plays, including a sack, at the East-West Shrine Game. Northern Iowa pro day: March 28
Alek Torgersen, QB, Penn - There was buzz surrounding the All-Ivy League signal caller at the Shrine Game practices, but he didn't stand out in the defense-dominated affair as his throws were thought to lack zip. As a quarterback, he'll continue to get a longer look from NFL teams. Penn pro day: March 9
Jerry Ugokwe, OT, William & Mary, OT, 6-7, 321 - While Ugokwe (ew-GO-kway) oozes potential with his NFL size (6-7, 321) and length, he posted pedestrian numbers at the NFL Combine. Having not picked up the sport until his junior year of high school, he's still developing his skill set. William & Mary pro day: March 16
Chad Williams, WR, Grambling State - Williams sparked enough interest at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl that he earned an invite to the Senior Bowl the next week. He separates well from defenders and attacks the ball, but in a draft with many wide receiver candidates, he's still trying to work into the later rounds. Grambling State pro day: March 21