Big Ten Football: Former Players Who Need Huge Pro Days
With a record 98 underclassmen headed for the NFL draft, several positions are crowded, leaving players from the Big Ten Conference and across the country battling to keep their stock high.
Some of the Big Ten's top prospects, like Penn State's Allen Robinson, Ohio State's Carlos Hyde and Indiana's Cody Latimer, were able to show off their skills at the NFL combine.
However, all three were left with room to improve during their upcoming pro days.
Additionally, several top players, like Michigan State's Denicos Allen, were left out of the combine altogether.
We'll break down the situation facing those four former Big Ten stars, as well as a few others.
WR Allen Robinson, Penn State
Penn State Pro Day: April 8
Allen Robinson was able to distinguish himself as one of the top college receivers on the field last year for Penn State.
He was a Biletnikoff Award finalist after finishing No. 3 in the nation with 119.3 yards per game last season. He now has to distinguish himself from another crowd, however: the deep class of receivers in the NFL draft.
The Nittany Lion standout ran just a 4.60-second 40-yard dash, leaving scouts wondering if he has the speed to be a consistently effective receiver at the next level, as Audrey Snyder of PennLive.com wrote:
Two of the focal points with Robinson involve his speed and his hand. Does Robinson have elite-level speed and enough of it to create separation at the next level? Can he consistently catch the ball away from his body?
He will have a second workout at Penn State’s pro day to try and improve upon his 40-yard dash, but given Robinson’s build a 4.60-second dash isn’t that surprising. However, that’s also not high-end speed, which certainly hurts his case to slip into the end of the first round.
He'll have to show that he's faster than advertised if he wants to boost his stock.
RB Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Ohio State Pro Day: March 7
Like Allen Robinson's conundrum at receiver, Ohio State's Carlos Hyde is stuck amongst a deep class of running backs with a slow 40-yard dash holding him back.
Hyde recorded a 4.66-second 40 time, leaving him far off the pace of many other rushers in his class.
While Hyde is predominately a power back at 6'0", 230 pounds, it was his perceived straight-line speed that made him one of the class' best backs—though he failed to show it in Indy.
The 5-foot-11 Hyde weighed in at 230 pounds, slightly lower than his listed weight at Ohio State. He is known as a power runner, but he hopes his often-underrated speed could be enough of a plus to get him into the first round.
He said he expects to run a 40-yard dash in the “4.4 range” today.
“I feel like if I run a low 4.4, I can definitely get into the first round,” he said.
If he can hit that at his pro day, he's bound to rocket up the draft boards of some teams.
LB Denicos Allen, Michigan State
Michigan State Pro Day: March 11
Michigan State linebacker Denicos Allen was regarded as one of the biggest snubs from the NFL combine.
He led the Spartans, perhaps the most dominant defense in the nation, with 98 tackles, including 16.5 for a loss and 5.5 sacks—but he wasn't even invited to the combine.
As Mike Griffith of MLive.com reported, that snub will serve as a source of motivation before the pro day:
The chip on the shoulder of the former Michigan State linebacker is sure to grow wider and deeper as he watches the combine workouts on television (NFL Network), thinking to himself he's better than many of the players who were invited ahead of him.
"I've already seen the list, and honestly, I can't help but think that,'' Allen said on Thursday. "Once I found out I wasn't invited to the combine, that motivated me even more to prove to people that what you see on film of me is what you will get.
"I don't know what people are thinking. I guess I'll just have to show them again.''
If he can back that talk up during MSU's pro day, the combine snub will be all but forgotten.
WR Cody Latimer, Indiana
Indiana Pro Day: March 26
Indiana's Cody Latimer was impressive at the combine—but he only participated in one event: the bench press.
He led all receivers with 23 reps and, while that is a great number, he wasn't able to partake in any running drills, which are most important for players of his position. He wasn't able to run because of foot surgery on January 19, as Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star detailed.
According to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, Latimer is expected to be at 100 percent and be able to run during the Hoosiers' pro day.
If he performs well, he could shoot up draft boards. If he doesn't, it'll nullify the buzz generated by a nice combine.
CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
Nebraska Pro Day: March 6
Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste has been likened to the Seattle Seahawks' All-Pro corner Richard Sherman because of his physical prowess.
He carried those expectations into the combine and measured at 6'3", 218 pounds, but he didn't quite show the speed necessary to be an elite corner with his 4.61-second 40-yard dash.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com opined that his slow 40 could have him sent back to safety in the pros:
The big, athletic cover man has been touted as a potential hidden gem by observers around the league, but his disappointing 40 time (4.61 seconds) could make him a hard sell to teams looking for speedy cornerbacks. Although his impressive vertical (41.5 inches, best among defensive backs and tied for second overall) and broad (10-8) jumps suggest he is an explosive athlete, Jean-Baptiste lacks the quick-twitch ability that coaches covet in corners. He could be destined for a move to safety at the next level.
If he wants to play corner, he may have to show more speed at his pro day.
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michigan
Michigan Pro Day: March 12
Michigan's Fitzgerald Toussaint could find himself on the outside looking in at a strong and deep running back class on draft day.
He'll have an opportunity to change that destiny at the Wolverines' pro day.
Toussaint had a strong career at UM but ended with an underwhelming senior season. He galloped for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore but failed to crack that milestone again over the next two years.
He tallied just 648 as a senior.
If he can show the skills that led him to a strong 2010 season at his pro day, he could at the very least garner a free agency look after the draft.
LB Glenn Carson, Penn State
Penn State Pro Day: April 8
Penn State's Glenn Carson was one of the most productive linebackers in the nation last year but he didn't garner an invite to the NFL combine.
He led the Nittany Lions with 90 tackles as a senior but hasn't had the opportunity to show of his skills in front of scouts.
At 6'3", 235 pounds, Carson has the size to play at the next level and ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. named him the No. 8 inside linebacker prospect in this year's class.
If he can show some decent speed and agility at the pro day, he could draw enough attention to slide into the back of the draft.