Blog Entry

30 teams represented at limited Alabama Pro Day

Posted on: March 7, 2012 6:55 pm
 
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Something was missing. Or was it someone?

Somehow, there wasn't much of a buzz Wednesday at Alabama's Pro Day.

Running back Trent Richardson wasn't there. Neither were two former Alabama teammates: safety Mark Barron and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

All but two of the 32 teams were represented at an event at which 14 members of the Crimson Tide's 2011 national championship team performed, but head coaches and all but three general managers stayed away. The Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams were the teams not represented.

The Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers sent their general managers. One of the few recognizable faces was former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, now the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator.

A bigger and better crowd is expected on March 29, when Richardson, Barron and Upshaw are scheduled to perform along with some of the players who participated Wednesday.

Richardson, NFLDraftScout.com's top-ranked running back and a projected first-round pick, still is recovering from minor postseason knee surgery.

Barron, the top-ranked safety by NFLDraftScout.com, is recovering from double-hernia surgery.

Upshaw, ranked second behind South Carolina's Melvin Ingram among outside linebackers, has been plagued by tendinitis in a knee, Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday.

Alabama center William Vlachos, who wasn't among the nine former Alabama players invited to the recent NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, did his best to impress NFL scouts Wednesday, but he stopped short of performing in the event that is his strength: the bench press.

He will wait until March 29 to show how many times he can lift 225 pounds.

"The high-profile guys will be participating in the events then," Vlachos said.

One or two players projected as first-round draft choices were among the players who performed Wednesday. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, ranked 15th overall by NFLDraftScout.com, and inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower (28th) were among six Alabama players who had been to the combine but wanted to show off their skills again.

One player whose stock might have fallen at the combine might have improved his status slightly Wednesday.
Cornerback DeQuan Menzie ran the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds at Indianapolis. He improved that time to 4.66 seconds Wednesday.

"At the combine, I wasn't relaxed," Menzie said. "I was feeling so much pressure. Here, it was like I was at home, and I could release the pressure and run my best 40."

Menzie came out of the combine rated the 20th best cornerback available in the draft and was projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. Some teams might consider him as a free safety.

"I play it all," Menzie said. "I played safety in the Senior Bowl. I played safety in high school. I played corner here. I played in the nickel spot. There's really nothing that I can't handle. Saban put me through that."

Menzie has been training with Kirkpatrick and Hightower. What have they been telling Menzie?

"We've just got to get that money," Menzie said. "That's what Dont'a and Kirk say all the time. 'Go get that money. You've got to have the money on your mind.'"

Vlachos admitted he was disappointed. 

"If you look at the top-five consensus defensive tackles in the draft, I blocked all of them and blocked them well," Vlachos said.
In particular, he was referring to Penn State's Devon Still, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy and Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox and Michael Brockers of LSU.

"I can play with all of those guys," Vlachos said. "I think I proved that on film for three years. If these guys are top 15 picks, yes, I think I should have been invited to the Combine."

As a three-year starter, Vlachos said he played most of his college career at 295 pounds. Sensitive to being called small, the 6-foot-1 lineman has worked at gaining weight. He weighed in Wednesday at 319 pounds.

"I put on some weight, and I was able to run very well carrying it," said Vlachos, who ran the 40 in 5.27 seconds. "My arm length and height are not ideal. I also don't want to be light. Being able to run at that weight has got to be a positive for me."

Hightower has been listed at 6-4 throughout his college career. He has been listed as 6-2 by the NFL, but he was measured at 6-0 on Wednesday. Who measured him?"I don't know," Hightower said. "I know I'm 6-3. I'm telling all of y'all: I'm 6-3. I don't know what they're talking about."

He noted that former Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain was measured at 6-2 two years ago.

"They're going to measure me at 6-foot?" Hightower said. "I'm not even taking that. I'm 6-3. For everybody, I'm 6-3."

Neither Hightower, Kirkpatrick nor wide receiver Marquis Maze ran the 40-yard dash Wednesday. Maze and wide receiver Darius Hanks were among the Alabama players who went to Indianapolis. Hanks ran the 40-yard dash in 4.66 seconds then and in 4.69 seconds Wednesday.

Other participants Wednesday and their 40-yard dash times: cornerback Phelon Jones (4.65), tight end Brad Smelley (4.78), outside linebacker Alex Watkins (4.78), outside linebacker Jerrell Harris (4.81), offensive lineman Alfred McCullough (4.82), offensive lineman John Michael Boswell (5.35) and nose guard Nick Gentry (5.66).

Nose guard Josh Chapman, who came to Indianapolis but did not participate in any drills because he is recovering from mid-January knee surgery, participated in the bench press on Wednesday. Lifting for the first time since before the Jan. 9 BCS Championship game, Chapman lifted 225 pounds 29 times.
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