PULLMAN – It’s a small group of graduating seniors for Washington State in 2013 and the question looms: Are there NFL-caliber prospects among them? If WSU’s NFL Pro Day proved anything Thursday, it’s that some Cougs will, at the least, be wild cards come draft day next month. Indeed, from this chair, the event was a raging success.
Coug footballers put up some gaudy, downright extraordinary numbers, showcasing their talents to roughly a dozen NFL scouts. The teams in attendance were the Giants, Chiefs, Texans, Cardinals, Raiders, Cowboys, Patriots, Bears, Bills and Buccaneers.
The most exceptional examples you ask? Quarterback Jeff Tuel posted a 4.55 time in the 40-yard dash, while offensive lineman Wade Jacobson posted a 38-inch vertical jump.
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Tuel’s time, though unofficial, would not only top every other quarterback’s time at the NFL combine, it would also beat out West Virginia’s Geno Smith, widely regarded the most athletic quarterback in this year’s draft. (A 4.55 time would tie for second with Russell Wilson behind Robert Griffin III at last year's NFL combine.)
Jacobson’s 38-inch vertical ranks in the top five for offensive lineman in the country, a goal he put forth this offseason.
Not to be outdone, seldom-used running back/linebacker hybrid reserve Philip Brandt bench-pressed 225 pounds 39 times.
Not only is that three more reps than any other linebacker or running back at the combine, it’s more than any other player hoisted period.
Tuel was joined by a bevy of targets, including three wide receivers from Eastern Washington, one being 6-5, 216 pound wideout Brandon Kaufman. Tuel looked as sharp as ever, missing just one throw out of the 25-30 he threw on the afternoon. Tuel said he believes the day improved his draft stock.
Based on the observed reaction of NFL scouts in attendance, he’d be correct in that assumption.
“Most important, I think I threw the ball well,” Tuel said. “Once scout said he only needed to see one route.”
Tuel said one of his primary goals was to prove to scouts he could run an offense from under center, noting that working from the shotgun in the Air Raid offense doesn’t expose NFL pundits to his “pro-style” abilities.
Tuel also added he has a meeting set up with the Buffalo Bills in the coming weeks.
“I just want to get on someone’s board,” Tuel said. “I need to get a team to fall in love with me.”
As for Jacobson, his newfangled ‘sculpted’ body served him well Thursday.
Jacobson posted some impressive numbers for a man of his size, (6-6, 300) including the aforementioned 38-inch vertical. Scouts tend to keep the numbers secret upon pain of death but from the vantage point, a time of 5.06 was overheard for Jacobson in the 40-yard dash, though that is obviously unofficial.
The Hollister, Calif. Native said he hopes he opened some eyes Thursday, adding his offseason of workouts certainly helped his performance.
“The only tough part is when you’re working out at a facility, you get four or five takes at everything,” Jacobson said. “Here, you only get one shot.”
Jacobson said his agent is working on getting him visits with some different teams, but until the official numbers from scouts are digested from today’s pro day, it’s difficult to make anything concrete.
Joining Tuel, Jacobson and Brandt were running backs Logwone Mitz and Carl Winston, wide receivers Isiah Barton and Andrei Lintz, defensive lineman Adam Coerper, and defensive backs Daniel Simmons and Tyree Toomer. Eastern wideouts Brandon Kaufman and Greg Hurd both worked out with Tuel in passing drills as well.
Some other notable performances: Andrei Lintz had a nice day in all of the lateral agility drills, really thriving in the 3-cone drill and the shuttle run.
Daniel Simmons had a very good day as well. Simmons had a vertical over 40 inches, and looked to run a very strong 40-yard dash, though no numbers were released to the media.
Isiah Barton looked fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered at the latter end of the 2011 season, and participated fully.
Travis Long was in attendance for the Pro Day, but did not participate in any drills. Long suffered a knee injury late in the 2012 season, and hasn’t seen the field or talked with media since. Attempts to gain comment from him at the Pro Day were unsuccessful. "Nah, I'm going to Jimmy John's," said Long.
Gino Simone looked on but was not a participant. If he’s starting his post-football chapters, his last grab in the Apple Cup win was a pretty good one to go out on.
For the Cougfan.com twitter feed of Pro Day as it happened, click here