A plethora of NFL scouts and some front office personnel descended on FIU Stadium on Thursday afternoon to watch FIU Pro Day featuring several Panthers that could be working on Sundays this fall at an NFL stadium nearby.
All 32 NFL teams were represented, some with multiple scouts, including six Miami Dolphins scouts and general manager Jeff Ireland. Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter and Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall also were in attendance.
You kind of had an idea whom most scouts were here to see when the NFL folks gathered around FIU safety Johnathan Cyprien throughout the weight room portion of pro day. And later on how several scouts pulled Tourek Williams aside to ask him to play coverage in pass defense. Upon one Dolphins scout's arrival, he immediately asked me where Williams was. FOX Sports also was at FIU Pro Day. CLICK HERE for a story.
The times and numbers in this blog are from what some of the scouts I spoke to gave me. The majority of the scouts on Thursday did not want to talk about their numbers, but some spoke about the FIU players on the condition of anonymity. I will have photos of Pro Day on Friday right here.
Several Panthers dropped weight or got stronger for today's pro day. Although he looked bigger and stronger than the last time he was on the field at FIU, Williams said he lost seven pounds from the 260 pounds he weighed in at the NFL Combine last month so that he would be able to run faster. Each player ran the 40 twice. Williams clocked in at 4.6 both times.
I'll get to more 40 times in a bit, but back to the weight room where former FIU offensive lineman Andy Leavine, who is a sculpted 310 pounds, bench pressed 225 pounds 37 times to lead all players. Leavine has been wrestling professionally in Puerto Rico for the past six months and is looking to get back into football.
FIU linebackers Jordan Hunt (23 times) and Winston Fraser (22 times) also did well on the bench press. Defensive back Jose Cheeseborough, one of the leaders in the offseason training program in his time at FIU, also did 22 reps. Cyprien had 18 reps.
It was great to see former FIU football players come out to support today. Antwan Barnes, Anthony Gaitor, Nick Turnbull, James Knapp, Greg Moss and T.Y. Hilton all were at Pro Day. Nick Taylor, a former FIU basketball guard, was also at Pro Day. Taylor had an impressive Pro Day last year that earned him a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Taylor is still with the Vikings.
The fastest of all the Panthers today were a pair of defensive backs. Junior Mertile ran a 4.34 and a 4.36. The Dolphins took an interest in Mertile as they pulled him aside and had him take a Wonderlic test. Cheeseborough ran two 4.4s and receiver Jacob Younger ran a 4.39 on one of his 40s. Younger was at 4.42 in the other.
Cyprien ran two 4.5s and then showed some good hands in the pass catching drills. On one pass Cyprien went up near the back of the end zone to make the catch. An NFC scout said he could see Cyprien being a late first-rounder or second round pick, but more likely in the third round. He added that Cyprien "is an NFL safety".
Running back Darian Mallary and receiver Wayne Times each also did well in the pass catching drills. Both Mallary and Times ran 4.5s as their top time.
Back to Williams in pass coverage. I found it interesting that among the defensive linemen/linebackers, it was Williams who was singled out by scouts to show how he can cover the pass. Williams held his own. At 6-4, 253 pounds, he is an athletic defender and moves well for his size. Williams is being looked at as a linebacker in the NFL. On Thursday, when talking to Williams several scouts used the phrase, "As a linebacker". Two AFC scouts asked Williams to run the L drill a third time in order to see his athleticism.
A couple of FIU offensive linemen had a good day according to scouts I spoke to. Caylin Hauptmann did well in the agility drills. One NFC scout mentioned Hauptmann moves well for a big man, has "good hips" was the phrase the scout used.
Rupert Bryan is making the transition from right tackle to fullback and is down to 244 pounds. For the last eight weeks, Bryan said he has been working as a fullback at a training academy. Bryan said he has never played the position, but we saw he is athletic from his touchdown catch at Florida Atlantic this past year.
Bryan did not disappoint Thursday catching four of the five passes thrown at him. Bryan ran one short route, two intermediate routes and two deeper routes (about 35 yards). The only pass he dropped was on one of the 35-yard routes where the ball was thrown to the wrong side. An experienced receiver makes that catch, but again Bryan has been at this for eight weeks.
Kicker Jack Griffin matched his FIU career long field goal by hitting several 50-yard field goals.