The pro day at Texas A&M certainly didn't lack star power. Between Johnny Manziel, Jake Matthews and Mike Evans, the Aggies had three players who should go in the top half of the first round of the 2014 NFL draft in attendance.
There wasn't much action from them, however.
One key distinction made ahead of time was that Manziel wouldn't throw. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported before the NFL Scouting Combine that the dual-threat quarterback was going to wait three extra weeks to put his arm on display for interested teams.
Agent Erik Burkhardt said Manziel will be fully available to teams at that point:
The allure of the big three is also good news for the other prospects in attendance. Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com reported nine other players were planning to work out, including Derel Walker, Ben Malena and Nate Askew. It's a chance for them to get scouts to take a second look.
In the report, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said the program was expecting every NFL team to have representatives at the pro day:
Ever since we've been here every team shows up, with a couple of different representatives. We had a couple guys who did real well at the combine. Obviously, Mike was here last week and was real pleased with how he did things. I talked to Johnny [on Sunday] night and he'll be back in town. I think it's big when you have those types of marquee players [like them] and Jake. It creates opportunities for other players who weren’t at the combine and I think that’s a big deal.
Even if players like Walker, Malena and Askew don't end up getting selected, their performances during the pro day can be enough to help them get a call when teams start picking up undrafted free agents.
As for the big three, they are all trying to bolster their stock before draft day. Manziel remains in contention for the first overall pick, Matthews is trying to fend off a challenge from Greg Robinson as the top offensive tackle and Evans is battling to edge Marqise Lee as the No. 2 wideout behind Clemson's Sammy Watkins.
James Palmer of CSN captured a picture of the trio hanging out before the workouts:
Manziel is probably the one with the most to prove because there are so many questions about how his style will translate to the next level. Furthermore, teams want to see what he can do when asked to stand tall in the pocket instead of relying too heavily on his scrambling ability.
Mike McCoy of KHRD noted the Heisman trophy winner was looking noticeably stronger in the upper body:
With Manziel, Matthews and Evans looking on, though, other players started to grab attention.
Texas A&M passed along an Instagram video of Walker running the 40-day dash after a strong showing in the vertical jump:
The wide receiver was overshadowed by Evans during a breakout 2013 campaign. He caught 51 passes for 818 yards and five touchdowns as the second option for Manziel in the passing game.
Askew also enjoyed some success in the athletic drills. Texas A&M stated the linebacker, who converted from wide receiver ahead of his senior year, ran unofficially in the 4.4s for his 40-yard dash. TexAgs provided video of his 38-inch vertical, which would have been just outside the top five at the combine:
His lack of an extended track record on the defensive side of the ball could prevent him from getting drafted. That said, the athleticism he showed Wednesday should be enough to generate some buzz among teams and get him a tryout.
While the other Aggies were performing, it quickly became apparent the big three were going to remain absent from just about everything. Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram provided an update on their status:
It's not uncommon for top players to avoid workouts leading up to the draft. But with all three of Texas A&M stars in battles for draft position, there is also some risk that comes with passing on an opportunity as it provides an chance for players elsewhere in the country to shine.
As for the players who were working out, Malena also had a solid day. He's a fringe prospect who could eventually work his way into a niche third-down running back role at the next level. The Aggies passed along his effort in the three-cone drill:
Matthews then took to the practice field for some positional work, as expected. A potential top-five pick, the lineman went through the basics, including some lateral movement work as shown in a Vine provided by Khan:
Ultimately, the pro day would have obviously generated a lot more attention if Manziel, Matthews and Evans were full participants. Now they still have some questions to answer either on March 27 when Manziel throws or during individual workouts with teams.
The players that did take part took advantage of the spotlight. Walker, Malena and Askew all did enough during the athletic testing to get another look from teams either at the back end of the draft or, more likely, as free-agent options.
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