So getting up at five in the morning isn't something I do very often anymore, which has hurt my surfing patterns, but improved the level of grumpy, for which my family is grateful.
However, the opportunity to hit a Pro Day is always welcome, and as I am two hours away from San Jose and the workouts started at 8 AM—well sacrifices were made.
Somehow I am still awake. Or this could be a dream.
It was an incredibly smooth running day, as well as an early one. Just a handful of years ago, San Jose State was fighting to keep the football program alive, and now it's cranking out pro level players. If Coye Francies and Chris Owens pan out, some people were joking the school would get the nickname "Cornerback U."
I'm awaiting confirmation on the exact number of personnel and teams, but there were easily between 20-25 teams represented, 30+ people, and two head Coaches—Carolina's John Fox and new Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan. More on both is a bit.
The three biggest focal points were the aforementioned Francies and Owens, as well as defensive end Jarron Gilbert.
Francies was hot after the Senior Bowl, but since then, Owens has started to overtake him, and today may have locked that down. That isn't to say Francies won't make a fine corner in the NFL—he probably will—but Owens is hot.
Owens was faster overall, running a pair of 4.40's in the 40, while Francies was clocked between a 4.59 and a 4.65.
Side note—when it comes to timing, here's how it goes at a Pro Day. We (that is to say, media and scouts), all have our own stop watches and do our own timing. Often right after a run, we'll all double check the time with people around us. After all the speed drills are done, the scouts convene in a separate location and get a consensus time or range of times.
Francies' was a wide range. I don't know how or why, but the range on his runs was wider than I've seen in the year and a half I've been there. For what that's worth.
Regardless of how wacky those numbers were, Owens was faster by a margin.
Of course, straight-line speed isn't everything to a cornerback. Both corners worked out well in the position drills and looked good. Both tracked the balls well and looked good overall. Francies looked good flipping his hips and turning to move upfield. Owens looked great tracking the ball and very fluid.
I will say that Jets' Coach Ryan (told you we'd touch on him again), made a point to chat with Owens and it was clear they had talked before. He might have done the same with Coye, but I didn't see it.
But Ryan definitely looked interested in Owens, and given that he likes current Jet and former Spartan Dwight Lowery, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Jets go to that well again. (I realize he didn't make that pick, but GM Mike Tannenbaum, did and I'm sure he chatted it up to Ryan.)
I wonder how the Jets might get Owens, as it's hard to know where he might go, and it's possible he won't be there with the Jets' second round pick.
Will the Jets move up like they did for Dustin Keller last year?
They certainly might.
But the guy who seemed to be Ryan's biggest focus was Gilbert. When it was time for the D-line drills, Ryan stepped in and led them. While he spent plenty of time with the other two Spartan DEs there (Marcus Keli and Jeff Schweiger, who I will talk about in a minute), he worked with Gilbert the most and definitely was focused on testing and probing him.
I walked away thinking that the Jets have to be thinking Gilbert is a high priority. Like Owens, you have to wonder how they would pick him up. He's slotted on many sites to be a guy who could go somewhere in the second or third (I lean towards second) so again, the Jets might have to make a move to get him.
By the way, many sites have him listed as a defensive tackle, but he can play tackle or end, specifically end as a five technique in a 3-4, which could fit what the Jets are looking at.
I call him an end, because that's what he was in school.
Whatever you call him, he too looked solid in drills and is definitely more than a YouTube video and some stats. Gilbert ran a 4.76/4.83 40 with a good 10 yard time of 1.66. Not the fastest bloke, but quick enough.
When guys like Gilbert, Francies, and Owens attract a spotlight, sometimes it splashes on some other players as well. One player I am looking more into is defensive end Jeff Schweiger.
Schweiger was a transfer from USC and had an OK, though not spectacular, season in 2008. He had a very good workout today, including a 4.71/4.74 40 time, with a quick 4.56 short shuttle which looked pretty solid. Add to it a 35 1/2 vert and a 10 foot broad jump and he's an intriguing guy who isn't on many radars.
I'm not saying he's a first round pick. I'm saying he may have gotten himself enough notice to have a good shot at being a rookie street free agent, if not a late second day pick.
It only takes one team to fall in love to make that happen. He's already worked out for the Atlanta Falcons.
I'll be looking at his film this week and am curious to see how he looks.
Finally, I wanted to touch on the bonus portion of the day's program—the workout by players from Cal-Poly, Sacramento State and other small schools.
This took place after the San Jose State day, and a bunch of scouts stuck around. It was a long day by the time it was done—from 8 AM to after 1 PM.
Of course, the teams who stayed (including John Fox) were there to see Cal-Poly wideout Ramses Barden do his thing.
I think Carolina has to be looking at him given that they have nobody behind Smith, and Dwayne Jarrett hasn't worked out. Barden is a big guy, like Jarrett is, and as he learns to use his size and hands to beat corners high, he could be a great complement to anyone, Smith included.
Among the other teams remaining were the Giants, Rams, Panthers, Pats, Dolphins, and Packers. The Panthers had two other men there along with Coach Fox, who busted me up more than once with little side comments.
There's a guy I dearly want to have a beer with. He strikes me as a fellow who could make an evening fairly entertaining.
Back at the workout, Barden smoked his Combine 40 time, which was listed as a 4.58, with his first run timed at a speedy 4.51. His second run was a 4.55, closer to the Combine time, but still solid. By the way, I clocked his first run at a 4.48. Barden told me he liked that time best and who am I to argue?
Barden was good in his workout as well, and between the Combine and today, helped himself quite a bit. His 39 arm length, 10'2" broad jump and 7.1 three cone drill helped also.
One other guy I am looking into after watching him in the second half of the day is Montana State Running Back Demetrius Williams. Williams had speedy 40 times of 4.44 and 4.45 (although one scout had him at 4.39) and overall had a good workout.
Like Schweiger, Williams may benefit from the teams who stuck around to watch Barden and get himself some workouts. I'm curious to look more closely at his game and examine if he might be able to catch onto a practice squad or on a special teams unit.
Sometimes it's not just the big guys who leave you fascinated.