Wednesday was Purdue's Pro Day and the Boilers had 14 players in attendance as they worked out indoors on the FieldTurf at Mollenkopf Athletic Center in West Lafayette. At the pro day, players that weren't invited or able to attend last month's NFL Combine, or players that want to improve on their previous combine showings to further impress the NFL scouts, are able to go through similar drills and some limited positional workouts in preparation for the 2015 NFL Draft coming up in April.
Although defensive end Ryan Russell participated and even excelled at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium last month, he was able to improve his 40 time from 4.75 to 4.69. On his second attempt, he strained his hamstring and couldn't continue the running drills, although he did later participate in some limited positional workouts at both defensive end and linebacker.
Russell started all four of his years at Purdue but saw some significant regression over his last two seasons. The 6'5", 275 lb. Texas native has been projected to go somewhere between the 5th and 7th rounds in the draft next month. A lot of people believe that Russell could be a possible sleeper in the draft and will be picked up based more off of his potential and physical attributes than anything else. Next up on his schedule is an individual workout with the Carolina Panthers where he hopes to continue to impress and improve his chances to land a spot somewhere for next season.
According to Gil Brandt of nfl.com, the best showing of the day for Purdue was by running back Akeem Hunt. The 5'10" Hunt ran an impressive 4.40 and a 4.38 in the 40 while achieving a personal best 14 reps at 225 lbs. on the bench, but the scouts were most impressed with his work in the positional drills. He proved he has outstanding abilities in the backfield as well as a receiver. Hunt has a pretty solid chance of being a legitimate triple-threat athlete for some team down the road as he also excels at returning kicks and punts. Some scouts think he could be a potential steal in the late rounds or land somewhere as a free agent with his versatility and agility.
The other standout performer of the day was the reigning fastest man in the Big 10, Raheem Mostert. As a shock to absolutely no one, the 5'11" running back clocked an amazing 40 time of 4.32 seconds, which would have been good enough to beat the fastest time at last month's NFL Combine by a full tenth of a second. Mostert also turned some heads by excelling in some of the power events. He was able to complete 20 reps on the bench at 225 pounds and also completed an 11 foot broad jump.
Both running backs, Mostert and Hunt, would have placed near the top of all running backs at the Combine last month in the 40 had they been able to attend. This news must have come as somewhat of a disappointment to former Purdue QB Joey Elliott ('09) as he challenged the duo to beat his 2009 official time of 4.6 seconds.
Other Boilermakers in attendance at the pro day included tight ends Gabe Holmes and Justin Sinz, safety Landon Feichter, and linebacker Sean Robinson, among others. Beyond the physical drills and workouts, players also get a chance to meet and talk with some position coaches and scouts from 15 different NFL teams to further test their football knowledge as well as give them more of a feel for their personality and demeanor.
The NFL Draft is still about 8 weeks away and I believe that Purdue will have two players drafted (Russell and Hunt) with a few others potentially landing somewhere eventually as a free agent - probably a specialist like the speedy Mostert and maybe a guy like Feichter, who was named the team's defensive MVP in 2014.