2014 Pro Days: Combine-snub Ben Gardner surprise star at Stanford
All 32 NFL teams were represented in Palo Alto Thursday to see arguably the most talented class in Stanford history work out. No one performed better on the big stage than the 6-4, 262 pound Gardner, though several others stood out.
All 32 NFL teams were represented at Stanford's Pro Day on Thursday, a testament to a Cardinal draft class that could prove the richest in school history.
While the 2014 class may not boast a blue chip prospect like Andrew Luck, NFLDraftScout.com currently lists 10 players as potentially draft-worthy. Many of them worked out Thursday, with several high-ranking prospects improving upon their Combine efforts.
Stanford's Trent Murphy, who led the nation with 15 sacks as a senior, shaved over a tenth of a second off of his 40-yard dash time on Thursday, recording a 4.72-4.75 according to a source at the workout. The 6-foot-6, 250 pound Murphy had been clocked at 4.86 seconds in Indianapolis. Following the timed drills, Murphy was asked to perform in defensive linemen and linebacker drills, where I'm told he impressed with his underrated athleticism.
Some believe that Murphy is a 'tweener who will struggle to find a role in the NFL. I see a versatile defender capable of lining up in the two or three point stance who has consistently demonstrated a knack for making big plays.
While lacking his teammate's recognition, Josh Mauro is a classic 5-technique defensive end who also helped his cause in Thursday's workout. The well-built Mauro showed off his commitment, adding nine pounds and eight reps in the bench press Thursday from his Combine showing. On Thursday he measured in at 6-foot-6, 280 pounds and lifted the bar 29 times. Mauro tweeked his hamstring during shuttle drills but gutted out the rest of his positional workout, turning heads along the way. Mauro strength and toughness could make him a "surprise" top 64 candidate.
With solid performances at the Combine, Murphy and Mauro's efforts on Thursday were helpful but not necessarily critical to their grades. Three-year starting defensive end (and shocking Combine omission) Ben Gardner, however, took full advantage of his opportunity to work out for scouts, recording a 39.5" vertical and a 10-2" broad jump - numbers that would've ranked second and tied for fifth, respectively, among defensive linemen tested in Indianapolis.
The 6-foot-4, 262 pound Gardner also was clocked in at 6.78 seconds in the 3-cone drill and 4.83 seconds in the 40-yard dash. These explosive numbers provide quantitative evidence of the athleticism Gardner demonstrates on tape. Like Murphy, Gardner is viewed by some as a 'tweener but he's shown the grit to handle remaining on the defensive line as well as enough fluidity and instincts to operate as a linebacker.
Safety Ed Reynolds impressed with his straight-line explosiveness, twice running the 40-yard dash in the low 4.4s and recording a 38" vertical but looked stiff in positional drills.
On the offensive side of the ball, junior guard David Yankey enjoyed a strong positional workout, showing off his athleticism and flexibility. Tackle Cameron Fleming, another early entry wasn't quite as fluid, I'm told.
Prior to the workout, scouts received word that one of Stanford's most well-known defenders - passionate inside linebacker Shayne Skov - would not be participating. He pulled a hamstring on Monday in preparation for the workout. He'll hold a personal Pro Day on April 21.
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