Coming down the final stretch of the NFL Draft season, we now hit the Pro Day portion. Universities will now host their own mini versions of the NFL combine for the schools’ top prospects. Each week I will be taking a look at the top 10 NFL prospects that improved their draft stock due to their recent postseason performances.
Vernon Gholston- Defensive End, Ohio State
Gholston not only blitzed the combine with a stellar performance in all categories, but showed up at his pro day and ran in the 4.5 range in the forty and posted an incredible 42-inch vertical. For a man that measures in at 6’3 and 265 pounds, Gholston’s combination of strength and speed looks to be catapulting him into the top five range.
Branden Albert- Offensive Tackle, Virginia
Albert displayed some of the most flexible and fluid hips of any guard to show up at the combine in the last five years. He has the feet and athleticism to dominate at left guard in the NFL, and the more scouts watch tape on this guy, the higher his stock continues to rise. He will be one of, if not the safest pick in this year’s draft.
Jerod Mayo- Linebacker, Tennessee
A run and hit linebacker who showed up at the combine weighing in at 238 pounds and ran a very respectable 4.53, Mayo also was a top 10 performer in the vertical jump (32 inches) and the short shuttle (4.29) and looks to be ascending into the second round area as the possible third linebacker off the board, behind Dan Connor and Keith Rivers.
Dustin Keller- Tight End, Purdue
An ultra athletic tight end with good burst out of his stance and is a real natural receiver in the passing game, Keller put on one of the best performances at the combine this year with a 4.55 forty time, 26 reps on the bench and a top five performance in nearly every other event. With fellow tight ends John Carlson and Fred Davis really struggling at the combine, Keller now moves up as the possible first tight end off the board.
Duane Brown- Offensive Tackle, Virginia Tech
A bit of an afterthought in this year’s very talented tackle class, Brown is nonetheless continuing to build on a very strong senior year. He ran as well as any tackle at the combine with a 5.04 time in the forty and looked very flexible and quick in position drills. Even in this year’s deep tackle class Brown looks like a mid to late first day pick.
Tavares Gooden- Linebacker, Miami
Gooden stole the show at the Miami pro day, a versatile linebacker who played all three linebacker positions at Miami. He clocked in the 4.4 range in the forty-yard dash and showed off good explosion and fluidity during position drills. He really did a nice job answering questions about a hip injury he got at the senior bowl. Plus a 39.5-inch vertical doesn’t hurt his cause either.
Tyrell Johnson- Safety, Arkansas State
The small school safety ran like a corner and lifted like a lineman at the combine last month. His 4.41 forty time was second best among the safeties and his 27 reps on the bench was the top mark. He’s done nothing but move up the draft boards with strong postseason showings, and now looks like the draft’s top strong safety.
Antwaun Molden- Cornerback, Eastern Kentucky
Molden is a physical press corner who has shown good balance and recovery speed throughout all of his postseason performances. He ran a better-than-expected forty time at the combine (4.40) and led all corners with 23 reps on the bench. His quick feet and explosive vertical leap (37.5 inches) didn’t hurt his cause either. A seventh round/free agent type coming into the year now has his sights set on day one.
Kirk Barton- Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
We knew about Barton’s strength and technique from game tape, but after posting a very impressive 34 reps on the bench, scouts really started to take notice. However, a sub-5.0 forty time at Ohio State’s pro day really got Barton flying up NFL draft boards. The four-year starter looks like a really intriguing pick as an early second day guy.
Brian Johnson-Defensive End, Gardner-Webb
Johnson entered the year as one of the top small school prospects with a shot at the late rounds. But after a stellar performance at the Hula bowl, showcasing his first step and closing speed, Johnson has made yet another rise up the draft boards. Measuring at 6’5, 275 pounds, at his pro day he ran an excellent forty time of 4.66 with a 10-yard split of 1.51, a very important time to see the first step speed of a defensive end. To put that time in perspective, 1.51 was the same 10-yard split that Darren McFadden had at the combine in February.
Wes Bunting has been mentored by some of the brightest minds in NFL scouting, names such as GMJR President and former Cleveland Browns scout Russ Lande, former Coordinator of the Year Marc Trestman, 31-year NFL and college football scout Joe Butler and Sports Xchange President and longtime NFL scout Frank Cooney.