Representatives of 12 NFL teams were on the TCU campus Monday to watch the Pro Day workout of former Horned Frog running back Ed Wesley.
Wesley is one of eight former college players who the NFL has granted special eligibility for inclusion in Thursday's Supplemental Draft. He, along with Baylor wideout Josh Gordon and Carson Newman inside linebacker Larry Lumpkin, is considered one of the front runners to be selected. Only Gordon (whose Pro Day will take place Tuesday) is viewed as a shoo-in to be drafted.
While Gordon has dominated the hype preceding Thursday's draft, Wesley's workout likely assured that he'll be signed as an undrafted free agent if he isn't selected outright.
According to Wesley's agent, Jordan Woy, in addition to the 12 teams that were on hand for the Pro Day, another six teams requested the back's results by Monday evening.
Wesley measured in slightly smaller than expected at 5-08 (and 3/8) and 196 pounds and was clocked at a relatively pedestrian 4.67-4.75 seconds on his two runnings of the 40-yard dash.
While these times aren't as fast as scouts would have hoped, one scout speaking on condition of anonymity, expressed surprise when he learned of the negative reaction in the media to Wesley's numbers.
"Look, he wasn't in tip-top shape. And the forty time is slower than you'd like, especially for a back of that size. But we could see on tape that he wasn't a burner.
The reality is it isn't fair to compare this guy who has had a couple of weeks to prepare for his Pro Day to guys drafted in April who had three times as long before their workouts."
The scout brings up an excellent point (and it, of course, was echoed by Woy).
Still, in this business, comparing athlete's numbers is part of the deal. So, to put Wesley's 40-yard dash time in perspective, consider that of the seven running backs tested this past year in Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine who were clocked with an equal or slower time than Wesley's 4.67, none were under 219 pounds.
Straight-line speed, however, is far from the only way of determining a running back's talent. Some believe, in fact, that the speed demonstrated by running in shorts in a direct line may be the most overrated element in grading backs. Vision, lateral agility, balance and burst are four traits I personally value more than a 40-yard dash time when it comes to grading potential NFL ball-carriers.
Which is why Wesley's numbers in the "other" events of his Pro Day are perhaps a better indication of his athleticism. Below are Wesley's results (based on the conversation with Woy as well as with multiple league sources). In parenthesis next to each result is where Wesley's marks would have ranked among the 28 running backs tested this past year in Indianapolis.
As you'll see, Wesley's workout wasn't nearly as poor as some have suggested.
Three Cone Drill: 6.91-6.93 seconds (4th among 28 backs at the 2012 Combine, notably faster than David Wilson -- 7.09 or Isaiah Pead -- 6.95)
Short Shuttle: 4.18-4.21 seconds (tied for 9th among 28 backs tested at 2012 Combine)
Long Shuttle: 11.68-11.73 seconds (would have ranked 6th among the nine who tested in this event at the Combine)
Bench Press: 19 repetitions of 225 pounds (tied for 11th)
Broad Jump: 9'6 (tied for 10th)
Vertical Jump: 34" (tied for 9th)
Wesley's Pro Day workout demonstrated that he has the athleticism to compete at the NFL level. He rushed for 2,442 yards and 21 touchdowns over his career, earning First Team Mountain West accolades in 2010. The fact that he's undersized, lacks elite speed and has struggled a bit with injuries (including a shoulder injury last season that kept him out of three games) is likely to be enough to keep an NFL team from investing a draft pick in him Thursday.
However, considering the interest teams have shown in him already, don't be surprised if Wesley signs on with a club if he, indeed, goes undrafted.