2014 Pro Days: Dezmen Southward the story at Wisconsin workout
Scouts may have arrived in Madison to watch linebacker Chris Borland or wideout Jared Abbrederis but it was the athleticism of safety Dezmen Southward that stole the show.
Nearly two-thirds of the NFL teams traveled to Madison to take in the Wisconsin Badgers' Pro Day.
While star wide receiver Jared Abbrederis largely chose to sit on his results from the Combine, free safety Dezmen Southward took advantage of the large audience to post eye-popping numbers that would have ranked among the elite at his position in Indianapolis.
Southward (6-foot-1, 212 pounds) was twice clocked in the low 4.4s according to the hand-held times of a scout on hand for the workout. He also posted a 42" vertical jump and a 10'4" broad jump. The Badgers' official Twitter account reported Southward's 40-yard dash time at 4.35 seconds.
Only five safeties tested in Indianapolis this year recorded a 40-yard dash under 4.50 seconds. Of the group, only Washington State's Deone Bucannon recorded a similar time (4.49) while possessing a similar frame (6-foot-1, 211 pounds).
Southward, a 52-game starter for the Badgers, was invited to the Combine but was notified just before his workout that he'd been red-flagged due to a medical issue. The issue, reportedly a fracture to the C-5 vertebrae in his back, was later challenged by Dr. Bob Watkins, the same man who worked with Peyton Manning.
Individual teams will have to make their own determination as to Southward's medical. Scouts attending Wednesday's practice couldn't help but be impressed by his overall athleticism.
"It was an impressive workout," the scout said, speaking on the condition on anonymity. "You can see the athleticism on tape but to put it all together in this environment after the disappointment of not getting to participate [at the Combine], speaks to [Southward's] determination."
Southward currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 9 strong safety and 7th round pick. While his potential medical concerns must be taken into consideratio, Southward's stock could be significantly impacted by his performance Wednesday. He was known more for his reliable tackling rather than his ball-hawking skills for the Badgers, collecting 152 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss over his career but only intercepted two passes.
While Abbrederis elected to stick with his Combine numbers for the measured tests, he did run routes and catch the ball fluidly in positional drills.
Linebacker Chris Borland also participated in Wednesday's workout. His 40-yard dash times were "similar" to the 4.83 he was credited with running at the Combine, though he did showed improved explosion in the vertical jump, measuring in at 35" Wednesday after recording a 31" vertical in Indianapolis.
Among the NFL teams present for Wednesday's workout were the Chiefs, Colts, Eagles, Giants, Patriots, Ravens, Saints and Steelers.
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