MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State held its annual Pro Day on Tuesday, and NFL scouts arrived in force to observe the workout at the school’s indoor football training facility.
More than an estimated 30 personnel from the Giants, Steelers, Ravens, Jaguars, Redskins, Bengals, Panthers, Lions, Falcons, Colts, Buccaneers, Bears, Seahawks, Saints, Eagles, Texans, Patriots, Broncos, Chargers, Titans and Chiefs were on hand. A majority of the teams present were confirmed by sight as they departed the workout area, others confirmed by sources.
The Chiefs, in particular, sent three representatives to observe K-State’s draft prospects, including wide receiver Tyler Lockett, center B.J. Finney and defensive end/linebacker Ryan Mueller.
But perhaps the Chiefs were also present to follow-up after meeting with a high-profile wide receiver prospect at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
“I talked to the Chiefs in a formal interview,” Lockett told ChiefsDigest.com after his Pro Day workout. “I got a chance to meet all of the coaches. We sat down, we watched film.”
That the Chiefs spoke to Lockett, whom CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com project as a second- or third-round pick, in a formal setting in Indianapolis carries some significance.
NFL teams are allowed a maximum of 60 interviews in 15-minute segments at the Combine, in accordance with league rules. And teams are often selective with whom they’ll formally interview when considering more than 300 draft prospects are present.
The 5-10, 182-pound Lockett said his experience with the Chiefs coaching staff in Indianapolis left a good impression.
“Overall, it was a great process,” Lockett said. “They were going over good plays that I did, bad plays that I did. Sometimes it’s good to talk about the bad that you did because everybody can talk about the good.”
In the meantime, Lockett appeared pleased with the results of his Pro Day workout. But he chose to not run the 40-yard dash after posting a 4.4 time at the Combine.
“I could have run a lot faster than I did at the Combine,” Lockett said. “I was running a lot faster when I was training on laser times, but at the same time that was faster than a lot of people thought I was going to run. Even though I wasn’t satisfied with it, I was just satisfied with it because it still spoke volumes to a lot of coaches.”
FINNEY HANDLES CURVEBALL
Pre-Combine training facilities are designed to train prospects on what to expect in Indianapolis, and many draft prospects take advantage of the workouts to spend weeks preparing for specific drills.
But scouts had a surprise waiting for center B.J. Finney by putting him through a few he didn’t previously perform.
“That’s to be expected,” Finney said with a chuckle. “They want to see how you’re going to react. We did some drills we did at the Combine, and then we did two or three drills that we didn’t just to see what was what.”
Finney, whom CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com project as a third- or fourth-round pick, took it in stride and enjoyed the entire Pro Day experience.
“It was fun getting to see old teammates,” Finney said, “the coaches actually getting to see stuff, some interesting drills I’ve never done before – didn’t even know we were going to do before. It was a lot of fun.”
Finney said he measured 6-4, 313 pounds before the workout, and there are lingering questions surrounding the position he’ll play at the next level.
Either way, he is ready for whatever an NFL team throws his way.
“Right now my feel is that I’ll be staying at center,” Finney said. “But the versatility that I have to play guard is not hurting me. It just depends on what they want.”
MUELLER GIVES HIS ALL
To hear defensive end Ryan Mueller went full bore during his Pro Day workout shouldn’t surprise.
The 2014 first-team All-Big 12 selection has a reputation for being all over the field on defense, and apparently the scouts were prepared to test him at various positions.
“I did everything,” Mueller said. “They had me at defensive end, they had me at outside linebacker, they had me at fullback, did a ton of reps at fullback. I was able to show off my athleticism and show them what a great athlete I am, how good of a football player I am. It was great. I couldn’t ask for a better Pro Day.”
The 6-2, 245-pound Mueller posted unofficial times of 4.85 and 4.83 in the 40-yard dash, according to a source. He also recorded unofficial times of 4.13 in the 5-10-5 Shuttle and 6.90 and 6.94 in the 3-cone drill, the source said.
Mueller, who is making the switch from defensive end to linebacker for the NFL, said he stayed behind after the workout to talk to scouts for one-on-one sessions. While he declined to name the represented teams, Mueller said he received positive feedback.
“A lot of them said they pictured me as a guy that fits well on their team,” Mueller said, “and certainly want to have me at their camp and give me another opportunity to prove myself.”
Whether he is drafted or signs with a team as an undrafted free agent, he has one mission between now and the NFL Draft to make his dream of playing at the professional level a reality.
“Bust my freaking butt off and do whatever it takes,” Mueller emphatically said.