Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson proved at the NFL Scouting Combine there are few things beyond his physical reach. Deemed unfit to complete workouts in his defensive line group in Indianapolis, Tigers teammate Dee Ford proved only that he isn't bashful about breaking down peers.
"Right before the bench ... I'm warming up and they came and got me and said I'm medically excluded from working out. It's a medical precaution," said Ford of being a medical scratch eight days before Auburn's pro day Tuesday.
The back did not seem to bother Ford for the past two seasons and the only notable physical limitation was a knee injury that kept him out of the first two games in 2013.
"There is nothing wrong with Dee and he will show it," Adisa Bakari, Ford's agent, told The Sports Xchange on Monday. "He had a procedure on his back in 2011 and has played a lot of great football since then with no problem whatsoever. We were all surprised he was held out. There was no reason for it."
Ford, rated as a late first round prospect by NFLDraftScout.com, was ascending on most lists after highlighting a productive 2013 season with a great Senior Bowl. The 6-foot-2, 252-pound Ford collected 10.5 sacks for the Tigers last season, second in the SEC only to Missouri's Michael Sam, and had dramatic game-ending tackles against Texas A&M and Georgia.
He followed that by impressing scouts at the Senior Bowl workouts and then earning Defensive MVP honors in the game with two sacks.
Ford also created a tsunami of attention at the combine by calling out South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney as a "blind dog in a meat shop."
"We're not saying the dog can't run, we're saying that dog can't find the meat," Ford said shortly after Clowney, NFLDraftScout.com's top-ranked player and the No. 1 defensive end in the 2014 draft, blistered the Lucas Oil Stadium turf with a 4.53 40 time. "I want everyone to understand it wasn't a personal shot. ... We're laughing about it. I was just speaking matter-of-factly about it."
At 6-2, 252, his build doesn't fit the prototype 4-3 end. He is not trained dropping into coverage and scouts project a steep learning curve if used in a "Joker" pass-rushing role ala Von Miller of the Broncos. As a 3-4 end, he can dodge blockers with lateral burst and straight-ahead speed, and his wingspan is very good for his height.
Ford's workout is vital, as are follow-up private team sessions, to show position coaches and general managers he can develop into an every-down player. It will also go a long way toward showing he's healthy.
Robinson, a redshirt sophomore, is currently No. 2 on the NFLDraftScout.com board. His effort at the combine somehow was underplayed. At 332 pounds, Robinson might run the 40 again just to show he is capable of hitting his target: 4.75 seconds. Scouts do not need to be covinced he could be the second coming of Walter Jones. He ran the 40 in 4.92 seconds in Indianapolis, tossed up 32 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, and had a 28 1/2-inch vertical.
In a draft with three quarterbacks expected to be drafted in the top 10, Robinson might be accurately labeled a value at any point after the second pick and it's not a strain to envision him as the No. 1 overall selection.
After Ford, the Auburn player with the most to gain Tuesday could be cornerback Chris Davis. A 200-pound cornerback/returner (sorry, Tide fans), Davis participated only in the bench press (15 reps) at the combine. He has a fourth-round grade, but could slide either direction depending on what he shows on the field.
NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang compares Davis to Kareem Jackson (apols again, Alabama) for their stout frame and scheme versatility.
Follow Jeff Reynolds on Twitter @ReynoldsJD