Auburn Football: What We Learned from Tigers' 2014 Pro Day

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2014

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 07:  Dee Ford #30 of the Auburn Tigers reacts after making a big defensive stop in the first quarter against the Missouri Tigers during the SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 7, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Five Auburn players traveled to the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, but only two, offensive tackle Greg Robinson and running back Tre Mason, took part in complete testing.

Of the other three, one was punter Steven Clark, whose score in the three-cone drill, broad jump, etc. wouldn't really affect his draft stock. His game tape and numbers matter more than his measurable scores.

The other two, however, were defensive end Dee Ford and cornerback Chris Davis, who were both advised not to work out for medical reasons.

Ford was flagged because of a herniated disc from a procedure done in 2011 and Davis tweaked a hamstring in preparation for the event.

Neither injury was serious, though, which put Ford and Davis in the spotlight during Auburn's pro day on Tuesday—an event which, according to ESPN 106.5's The Drive, was attended by every NFL team.

Alongside those main attractions, a number of other, lesser-known Tigers got to flash their stuff for professional scouts, as did Robinson (who only weighed in and did position drills) and Mason (who stood on his combine score for everything but the three-cone drill) once again.

Let's take a look at what we learned.


Dee Ford Would Have Been a "Winner of the Week" in Indy

FAIRHOPE, AL - JANUARY 20:  Dee Ford #30 of the South team works against Morgan Moses #78 during a Senior Bowl practice session at Fairhope Stadium on January 20, 2014 in Fairhope, Alabama.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Despite being forced to miss workouts in Indianapolis, Ford was a already a riser in the postseason draft process. After his performance at the Senior Bowl, his stock was in high demand, but scouts still wanted to see how he tested athletically—just to make sure.

On Tuesday, Ford passed those tests with ease. He didn't just meet the benchmark scouts were looking for—didn't just prove athletic enough to select based on the dominance of his senior-year game-tape—he exceeded it and showed himself to be one of the finest physical specimens in the draft.

Here are his unofficial numbers from pro day, courtesy of ESPN 106.5's The Drive (via Eric Galko):

Ford's second unofficial 40-yard dash was even better than his first (cited above), clocking in at 4.53 seconds. That would tie him with Jadeveon Clowney—the defensive lineman whom (a) scouts were smitten with after watching him run, and (b)Ford called out and said he was better than during the combine—for the best time among defensive linemen.

Meanwhile, Ford's three-cone score of 6.8 would have given him the single highest score among defensive linemen at the combine, while the 29 bench press reps, 35.5'' vertical jump and 10'3'' vertical jump would have all placed him squarely inside the top 10.

The numbers Ford posted across the board on Tuesdayespecially in the 40-yard dash and three-cone drillwere imperative to his draft stock in terms of health and scheme versatility, as duly noted by Chase Goodbread of

It was the sort of validation Ford needed to not only establish himself as one of the draft's elite athletes, but as well to quell any concerns about the back surgery he underwent in 2011, which prompted his absence from combine workouts. At 252 pounds, he is considered light to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, but could be ideal as a pass-rushing linebacker in a 3-4. Ford said at his combine news conference that teams that showed the most interest in him operated 3-4 defenses.

Some in the scouting community use "tweener" as a pejorative term, but Ford is a "tweener" in a good way. He could be the next Trent Cole playing with his hand down in a 4-3 scheme, or he could be the next Bruce Irvin standing up and playing Leo.

Either way, as he proved on Tuesday, he should become a useful, do-it-all member of an NFL defense.


Chris Davis Is an NFL Athlete

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 30:  Chris Davis #11 of the Auburn Tigers returns a missed field goal for the winning touchdown in their 34 to 28 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. C
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Davis, the hero of the Iron Bowl win over Alabama, has taken some heat in the couple of months that have followed.

His tape revealed what Auburn fans already knew—i.e., he is inconsistent at best in man coverage—and he was repeatedly burnt by Florida State receivers in the national title game.

However, these are things that NFL coaches, whether through experience or conceit (or both), believe they can hammer out of a guy in practice. As long as he wasn't a train wreck on film, an NFL athlete will be drafted and given a shot to succeed.

On Tuesday, Davis proved that he is an NFL athlete. His vertical jump of 40.5'' would have tied for second-best among cornerbacks and fifth-best overall at the combine, which left professional scouts smiling:

With a respectable 40-yard dash time of 4.51 and a broad jump of 10'4'', Davis showed more of the straight-line speed and explosion from the legs that scouts love to see.

Even standing just 5'9'', he earned himself a definite spot in the draft.


Jay Prosch Is Bane

David Goldman/Associated Press

Alright. Maybe Auburn fans didn't learn this at Tuesday's pro day. Most had known it all along, seen it in action every Saturday in the fall.

They still had it reinforced.

Starting in the pre-pro-day lineups, folks on Twitter—and ostensibly those in attendance—were in awe over the size of Jay Prosch's arms, pictured here in the back left corner here:

And here during his 27 bench press reps:

And here , courtesy of's Brandon Marcello, in video form:

Prosch had a good day on the stat sheet, too. Especially in posting a 40-yard dash time of 4.72 seconds, which is quite fast for a fullback. He looked and moved like someone who deserves a shot in an NFL training camp.

...Even if he's not actually drafted.


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