Four projected top-100 prospects, including possible top-10 pick nose guard Danny Shelton worked out Thursday at the University of Washington Pro Day, with an estimated 50 scouts and coaches from all 32 NFL teams taking note.
The Huskies' top three prospects - Shelton, outside linebacker Shaq Thompson and cornerback Marcus Peters all elected to stand on their Combine numbers. The only exception was Thompson performing in the bench press Thursday as a thumb injury kept him doing so in Indianapolis. Thompson proved that he has the strength to remain at linebacker with 20 repetitions today.
Given that they saved their energy for the positional workouts, not surprisingly, each player looked good in these drills. Peters, however, was especially impressive, showing excellent fluidity and ball skills.
Peters' presence at the workout at all is considered good news. He, of course, was kicked off the team by first-year Washington head coach Chris Peterson on Nov. 6. In an exclusive interview with NFLDraftScout.com prior to the Combine, Peters admitted his fault for the incidents which led to his dismissal from the program and announced that he had met with his former head coach and would be allowed to work out Thursday.
While teams are cognizant of Peters' off-field concerns, they certainly don't seem to be too put off by them. No less than half of the league has either worked Peters out privately or scheduled him for a visit, according to a source close to the projected first round pick. Sixteen visits and workouts is an exceptionally high number but given Peters' talent and questions, perhaps it isn't surprising. Peters spent last night dining with members of the New York Jets and will spend Thursday evening with the New Orleans Saints.
Thompson, the reigning Paul Hornung Award winner as the most versatile player in the country, showed off his all-around game, showing impressive agility and speed in linebacker and defensive back drills. There is still plenty of debate as to where the six foot, 228 pounder fits in best in the NFL but it won't be at running back. He was asked to work out at that position Thursday but declined. Thompson spent last night dining with San Diego Chargers linebackers coach Mike Nolan and is going out tonight with members of the Carolina Panthers.
Thompson has either visited with, worked out privately or is scheduled to with seven other clubs: the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles.
At 6-foot-2, 338 pounds Shelton was quite literally a big draw. Wearing a traditional Polynesian lava lava "skirt" throughout much of his workout, the massive nose guard showed off his impressive combination of mass and athleticism during d-line drills. He said following his workout that he'll be visiting Cleveland over the Easter weekend.
While the Huskies' big three were the big story, edge rusher Hau'oli Kikaha -- who led the nation with 19 sacks a year ago -- had the most on the line after illness kept him from working out at the Scouting Combine.
Kikaha's day didn't start off impressively as he was clocked in the high 4.8s to mid 4.9s after measuring in at 6-2 (1/2) and 248 pounds. He was also clocked at 4.40 in the short shuttle, 12.44 in the long shuttle and 7.16 in the 3 cone drill. That said, he improved as the day went on, looking very good in defensive line drills conducted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers much more comfortable in linebacker drills Thursday than he did a couple of months ago at the Senior Bowl.
While Kikaha's production is off the charts, he isn't viewed as a first round talent due in part to questions about his fit at the next level and the fact that he's twice torn the ACL in his left knee. Kikaha (formely known as Hau'oli Jamora) is at his best rushing the passer, showing impressive initial burst, balance and agility to turn the corner and active, strong hands stemming from his time studying Judo as a youngster.
Inside linebacker John Timu, defensive end Andrew Hudson and wide receiver Kasen Williams also showed enough to warrant late round or at least priority free agent consideration. Thursday's workout was critical for these three as they were not invited to the Combine.
Williams, a former prep All-American, helped reassure scouts that he's recovered from a horrific foot injury two years ago, by clocking in at a respectable 4.62 in the 40-yard dash and posting a 35.5" vertical jump after measuring in at a chiseled 6-foot-1 (and 1/2") and 218 pounds. Williams caught the ball very well during his positional drills, snatching passes from former Washington quarterback Keith Price.
Timu, Kikaha, Thompson and Peters all looked good catching passes during defensive drills. Timu initially turned heads Thursday morning, lifting the bar 33 times after measuring in at 6-foot, 243 pounds and running a solid 4.73 in the 40-yard dash.
The hometown Seattle Seahawks were in full force at the workout with head coach Pete Carroll, general manager John Schneider and new defensive coordinator Kris Richard among a huge contingent from the club. Carroll was the only head coach in attendance, but San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke and Washington general manager Scot McCloughan also attended the workout.