Indiana University is not generally known as a hotbed for NFL talent. The best NFL player the Hoosiers ever produced was probably wide receiver Pete Pihos, and he played in the '40s.
However, another Indiana wideout is making waves this draft season, and after performing exceptionally well at Indiana's pro day, more than one NFL team is headed back to the film room to check out tape on Cody Latimer.
Granted, it's not like the 6'3", 215-pound junior came from absolutely nowhere. After all, Latimer was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2013 after reeling in over 70 catches and topping 1,000 receiving yards.
As Stephen Holder of The Indianapolis Star reported last month, the NFL Draft Advisory Board gave Latimer a third-round grade after the season, which in turn, spurred his decision to forgo his senior year.
However, draftniks such as Bleacher Report's Ryan McCrystal bemoaned Latimer's "limited speed and overall athleticism," labeling him a third-day pick.
McCrystal was far from alone in that assessment. Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com wrote that Latimer "lacks foot speed to separate vertically," and "has a ceiling as a No. 3" receiver in the NFL.
Apparently, someone forget to tell Latimer.
Latimer was prevented from working out (other than in the bench press) at February's NFL Scouting Combine by January foot surgery, but at Indiana's pro day, he came out of the gate strong.
First, Latimer showed off some impressive hops in the vertical leap:
Then it was time for the drill everyone wanted to see. As Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller tweeted, Latimer's first attempt in the 40-yard dash was good, albeit not great:
4.44 on Cody Latimer's first 40 attempt, per a source at Indiana Pro Day— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 26, 2014
Zach Osterman of The Indianapolis Star then pointed out that Latimer's second attempt was a fair bit better:
Cody Latimer's official 40-yard dash time today: 4.38 seconds. #iufb— ZachOsterman (@ZachOsterman) March 26, 2014
That's a sub-4.4 40-yard-dash, from a 6'3" wide receiver who posted a 39" vertical leap, just two months removed from having foot surgery.
Foot speed, indeed.
Throw in the 23 reps that Latimer put up in the bench press at the combine (which led all wide receivers), and it's no wonder 19 NFL teams were in attendance at the pro day in Bloomington, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com.
Given what those scouts, coaches and front office personnel saw from Latimer, Bleacher Report's Ryan Lownes believes Latimer may have distanced himself from a crowded pack of receivers in the middle rounds of this year's draft:
39" vertical and sub 4.5 times for Cody Latimer should help separate him in a strong class. If you can, check out what he did to Penn State.— Ryan Lownes (@ryanlownes) March 26, 2014
Sigmund Bloom of Football Guys took things even one step farther:
maybe a top 5 WR in this class, no joke RT @Hoosier_Huddle Cody Latimer with a 4.38 40 unofficial.— Sigmund Bloom (@SigmundBloom) March 26, 2014
Yes, that may be looking at the glass as half full, and it's a safe bet to say Latimer's name still isn't going to get called during the first round of the draft on May 8.
May 9, on the other hand? Well, that's another story. Because when teams look at the combination of size, speed and strength that Cody Latimer appears to bring to the table, they should be be impressed.
Well, let's just say there was a lot of nodding in Southern Indiana Wednesday.