It's the darnedest thing with Kenny Vaccaro.
Kenny Vaccaro didn't blow scouts away on Tuesday, but he remains the lone Longhorn projected to be taken in the first round of April's NFL Draft.
The former Longhorn All-American safety hasn't blown anyone away with his pre-draft workouts, including Texas' pro day on Tuesday, but his draft stock continues to be sky high. Sources close to Vaccaro told Hookem.com recently that the Detroit Lions, who hold the fifth pick in next month's NFL Draft, have expressed interest in Vaccaro - he could also be headed to the Miami Dolphins (12th) or the St. Louis Rams (16th).
Vaccaro measured in a 6-feet, 217 pounds on Tuesday. That's three pounds heavier than he was during the NFL scouting combine. He didn't run or jump on Tuesday citing a hip flexor injury he suffered training before a recent workout with the Dallas Cowboys on top of slight cramping that occurred right before the start of pro day.
So Vaccaro, who ran a 4.63 40 at the combine to go with a 38-inch vertical leap, 15 reps on the bench press, a 4.06 5-10-5 shuttle and a 6.78 L-cone time will have those marks carry him into the draft. It's a draft where is primary goal is to follow former Longhorn Michael Huff (2006) and be the first safety to come off of the board in his respective draft class.
“I just want to be the first safety off of the board,” Vaccaro said. “I don't care if it's first or second round. I just want to be the first safety off of the board.”
Right now Vaccaro is the only Longhorn draft hopeful firmly projected to go in the first round. He went through individual workouts by himself on Tuesday that were led by Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
Vaccaro was praised by scouts present for pushing through the workout even though he was injured. Scouts wanted to see if he's capable of being a three-down player at the next level, and Vaccaro feels like Tuesday's workout showed those in attendance what they needed to see.
“[The scouts wanted to] see me playing the deep half because I covered the slot so much,” Vaccaro said. “I think I proved that covering a dynamic slot receiver is a lot tougher than playing a Cover 2.”
Vaccaro said he's met with all 32 NFL teams already to this point. He's excited about the draft process that will end when he makes his way to New York on Thursday, April 25 as a guest of the league on the first night of the draft.
The biggest question with Alex Okafor remains if he can be a 3-4 conversion end at the next level.
“This whole process has been fun,” Vaccaro said. “It's kind of like going through recruiting all over again.”
Okafor shows versatility
Alex Okafor looked like a million bucks physically on Tuesday. He came in officially at 6-4.5 and a chiseled 262 pounds with a wingspan just over 6-feet-6-inches.
However, in his quest to be a 3-4 conversion end who can play standing up and rush the passer Okafor's workout left a little bit to be desired. He didn't release his official numbers but Hookem.com was told that his official 40 times were around 4.88 and 4.81, respectively. His 31-inch vertical leap matched 317-pound defensive tackle Brandon Moore and his 21 bench press reps from the combine would have tied him with teammate Barrett Matthews on Tuesday.
He looked fluid and explosive in bag drills, but needing a huge pro day to cement himself in first round Okafor will now need to wow teams in private workouts to be one of the first 32 players selected.
“If you look at my film I got a lot of sacks coming out of a two-point stance coming off of the edge,” Okafor said. “People might look at the film and see that I had a lot of rush sacks. I've had so much time to prepare for the 3-4. I think I'm prepared for the 3-4.”
Okafor felt like he was fluid and showed loose hips in position drills. He was also praised by team reps in attendance for pushing himself through the hardest pro day workout of any Longhorn yesterday.
He did that in part because he said consistency and his desire for the game are two questions that have come up when he's talked to teams.
Marquise Goodwin's elite speed was evident while catching passes from Vince Young on Tuesday.
“I've been grinding my whole life for football,” Okafor said. “We've had two-a-days, we've had camp. Even if you look at the '09 class, we had a lot of dropouts. For me to still be here and to be in the position I'm in proves that I love the game and I shouldn't even have to answer that question.”
Goodwin jumps out of the building
He at least gave it his best shot. Marquise Goodwin let his 4.27 40-yard dash from the combine stand on its own. He had a 44-inch vertical jump taken away because of excessive foot movement before the attempt, but he'll live with a 42-inch vertical that was the highlight of the indoor testing.
Goodwin ran routes with Vince Young delivering the ball and said he's been working with Young and Colt McCoy to prepare him for his private workouts for teams over the next few weeks. Goodwin also fielded punts on Tuesday in his attempt to show that he's dead serious about a long career in the NFL.
“Just because I have the Olympic rings on my arm [a tattoo on the inside of his left forearm] doesn't mean I'm just a track guy,” Goodwin said. “I'm a football player who just so happens to jump far. I can run fast – yeah, so what. A lot of guys can run fast.”
Other pro day notes
The three running backs who worked out Tuesday had good days. Jeremy Hills (5-10 ¼, 203) posted a 4.42 40-yard dash, a 35.5-inch vertical, a 9-7 standing broad jump while throwing up 20 reps on the bench press.
The production, combined with the fact that he looked fully recovered from his broken leg suffered in the home finale against TCU, and his fluidity running route positioned him to make a training camp roster maybe more so than any of the other likely priority free agents.
Ryan Roberson is working hard to find a spot on an NFL team's special teams unit.
Ryan Roberson (5-11.5, 240) led all Longhorns with 26 reps on the bench press while clocking a 4.79 40. Roberson said he knows he'll have be a dynamic special teams player to have a chance to make it in the league.
“The fullback position is almost extinct and I know that,” Roberson said. “Special teams is going to have be my golden ticket if I'm going to make it.”
There were so many discrepancies with D.J. Monroe's 40 time that even he didn't know what he ran officially. He said his first run was in the mid-to-low 4.3s while he assured the media he broke 4.3 on his second run (my sources told me either 4.33 or 4.34 was the most accurate time).
That said, Monroe said scouts have told him he's fast. He knows he'll have to be able to play receiver if he hopes to stick, and while he wasn't pleased with his route running on Tuesday he'll go back to and work as hard as he has been.
“I've been busting my butt 24/7 on routes,” Monroe said. “Everybody knows I can do stuff out of the backfield. I just want to show them I can run from the slot and do some things that way.”
The decision of Brandon Moore (6-5 ¼, 317) to enter the draft looked even more questionable after his workout Tuesday. He ran a 5.1 40 and posted a 31-inch vertical, but he suffered a hip flexor injury running the 40. He registered 22 reps on the bench press but looked less than stellar in footwork drills where he lacked coordination and explosiveness.
Moore said that it wasn't grades, financial restraints, or anything else that promoted him to enter the draft.
“I watch the NFL a lot on TV,” Moore said. “I figured I go out there and do what those guys do.”
D.J. Grant (6-1 ¼, 236) ran a respectable 4.7 40 to go along with a 35.5-inch vertical, a 9-11 broad jump and 13 reps on the bench press. Grant said teams have expressed interest in him as both an in-line and flex tight end.
“A lot of people want to see me block and get my weight up,” Grant said. “I think I've shown I can block, but it's all about getting an opportunity and being able to showcase that again.”
Barrett Matthews (6-0 ¾, 235) put up 21 reps on the bench press and posted a 31-inch vertical. He said he's talked to a few clubs about a role as a possible H-back/fullback hybrid player.
DeSean Hales (5-9.5, 180) posted a 32-inch vertical leap and a 9-11 broad jump. He had a couple of nice grabs from Vince Young where he laid out to make a diving snag.
Luke Poehlmann (6-6.5, 290) did bag drills with the linemen, ran routes with the tight ends and snapped. He went 30.5 inches on the vertical and posted 20 reps on the bench press.
John Chiles (6-0.5, 210) looked fluid and explosive catching the football and was said to have run in the low 4.4s. Alex King (6-0.5, 210) only punted to allow Goodwin and Monroe to work on fielding kicks and did not go through any of the testing.