Herm Edwards’ NFL connections evident at ASU Pro Day

Mar 27, 2019, 4:26 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2019, 5:35 pm
(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)...
(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — This is what Herm Edwards envisions when he talks about Arizona State’s new ”pro model.” And it’s what Ray Anderson was anticipating when he hired him in the first place.

The Sun Devils hosted their Pro Day in Tempe on Wednesday, with representatives from 27 of the 32 NFL teams – plus people from the CFL and AAF – in attendance. Among the headliners were Broncos GM John Elway and 49ers GM John Lynch.

That’s the most NFL clubs that have shown up for an ASU Pro Day in awhile. In fact, some were speculating it was among the Devils’ most well-attended days since back when Terrell Suggs was getting ready for the draft. That was 16 years ago.

A lot of the attention is due to the presence of N’Keal Harry, of course. The gifted receiver is expected to be one of the first players off the board at his position in next month’s draft, perhaps going as early as the first round. He ran patterns for Manny Wilkins, before fielding punts and doing a few cone drills for some scouts off to the side at the end of the day.

Now feels like a good time to note that the Arizona Cardinals were one of the teams in attendance.

For the most part, however, Harry was a bystander. After a pretty strong showing at the NFL combine last month, there was really no need for him to take part in the bench press, run the 40 or do any of the jumps. He’s in a good spot right now, and his play on the field over his three seasons in Tempe speaks for itself.

“It’s great,” Harry said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life. I’ve been waiting to see my face on Madden. So I’m extremely excited about that. I’m really just truly enjoying everything that’s going on in my life, just thanking God for being here.”

So yes, scouts were there to see N’Keal. But it wasn’t the only reason. Everyone knew he wasn’t taking part in most of the drills ahead of time anyway, so some of the increased NFL presence was simply due to Herm and his connections around the league.

“It is about relationships,” Edwards acknowledged. “What I told the guys in there today – all the scouts and GMs – I said ‘look guys, I was in that league for 30 years and the one thing I’ve taken away from it is this: it’s no one’s right to coach and play in the league. It’s actually an honor. This is big for me, when you guys come out here and look at our program. Because it says something about what we’re trying to do’.”

Granted, the league just held its annual spring meetings up the street in Scottsdale earlier this week. So there were already a lot of NFL people in town anyway. But that wasn’t by accident.

“There’s always a plan to the madness right?” Edwards explained. “Last year I had known that the owners’ meeting was going to be here. So with that being said, I said ‘why don’t we plan our pro day around the owners meeting? I’m pretty sure – I know some people over there – they’ll probably show up’. And they showed up.”

The exposure to more NFL scouts and GMs certainly helps grow the program. And it’s a nice selling point for recruits. As far as players that were taking part on Wednesday though, it’s a lot more beneficial for guys like Manny Wilkins and Jalen Harvey, who are trying to get their name out there, rather than someone like Harry, who is already high on most draft boards.

Wilkins has been fighting his way back from a knee injury at the most pivotal time of year for a college football player trying to make the jump to the pros. Now healthy, this was a big opportunity for him to show decision-makers around the world of football what he can do.

Harvey took advantage of the stage as well, participating in both offensive and defensive drills. After playing both wide receiver and defensive back during his time with the Sun Devils, he’s keeping his options open. And he had a large audience taking notice.

“This is what a pro day is supposed to look like,” Edwards pointed out. “It’s supposed to look like this.”

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