It’s quite the change for the 2013 Arizona Wildcats’ and Arizona State Sun Devils’ Pro Days this year, and it started Thursday for the Arizona Wildcats.
Thirty-one of 32 NFL franchises made the trip down to Tucson (New Orleans was the only team not there) to see the Wildcats workout, and while running back Ka’Deem Carey was the main attraction, there are a couple of others who could hear their name called on draft weekend.
Marquise Flowers, the two-year starter at linebacker, turned heads in positional work, reportedly clocking in 40 yard dash in the 4.4s and was fluid in drills.
Flowers’ combination of size and speed, and his comfort level playing in coverage could make for teams looking for the Kam Chancellor-type linebacker turned safety.
Cornerback Shaquille Richardson continued his solid off season, also running in the 4.4s, and tipping the scale at just under 200 pounds.
In doing so, he’s given himself the chance to hear his name called late in the draft.
While most scouts were there to see if Carey could improve his less than stellar 4.7 40-yard dash turned in at the combine.
It didn’t come to fruition as Carey turned in a slightly improved 4.66 40, but he did improve his vertical an impressive six inches to 38.5 inches, showing a little more explosion than what he had at the combine.
Carey’s impressive on-field game will keep him as one of the top running backs in the draft, but he will continue to be a conundrum because his times aren’t nearly as good as what shows up on tape.
At Arizona State, things have changed quite a bit.
Last year the Sun Devils had no one drafted, NOT ONE PLAYER.
This year, the Devils look like a lock to have three players drafted within the first five rounds, and two of them could be gone by day two.
Will Sutton is the biggest name from ASU, but he may not be the first player drafted.
Sutton added way too much bad weight for his senior season, but that still resulted in the Sun Devil wrapping up his second consecutive Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award.
Scouts will be looking at Sutton’s weight, wanting to see if he continues to drop it, and if he improves his explosiveness.
The Sun Devil that could be drafted first in this year’s draft is Carl Bradford.
The junior pass rusher is an intriguing fit in a plethora of 3-4 alignments, and though he isn’t as explosive as teams would like, his movement numbers are eerily similar to all-time Arizona Cardinals draft bust Cody Brown (2nd round, 2009).
Teams will want to see if Bradford can improve his short area quickness and explosiveness from his times in Indy, but he is a guy that teams like.
Running back Marion Grice has a lot of questions to answer, but may not be able to if he can’t test.
Grice is liked by numerous online draft analysts, and has the size and build to be in play as an every down-type of runner at the next level, but his inability to stay healthy is something that worries teams. Grice suffered a broken leg in ASU’s Pac-12 South-clincing win at UCLA in November and hasn’t done much since.
The name to watch and one that could creep up draft boards is Alden Darby.
Teams like his aggressive nature and the way he attacks the ball, but he lacks the ideal build of an NFL strong safety, and doesn’t show the range to be a free safety.
He could find a role at the NFL level as a nickel or dime corner that is also a special teams ace, and will really intrigue teams if he can show that short area burst.
Chris Coyle is another guy who could find himself on teams’ radars after a solid pro day.
The undersized moving tight end is a prime candidate to fit with a team looking for an H-back, and will make himself some money if he can show off impressive upper body strength to go along with his smooth feet.
The talent in the state of Arizona is growing year after year, and the 31 teams going to see a pro day of a team with one “draftable” player shows how much things have changed since 2013.