Offensive linemen lead the way at Vols’ pro day

The University of Tennessee held it’s NFL Pro Day this morning at the Robert White Indoor Practice field in the Anderson Training Center. Scouts from all 32 NFL teams were in attendance to see what skills the Vols had to offer for the next level this year. Most attention was on the offensive lineman, as Tennessee has five prospects who could possibly be drafted this year.

Antonio Richardson speaks with reporters following his Pro Day workouts. Richardson predicts as a first round pick in April's NFL Draft. Photo by Jordan Dajani.

Antonio Richardson speaks with reporters following his Pro Day workouts. Richardson predicts as a first round pick in May’s NFL Draft. Photo by Jordan Dajani.

The day began with measurements of the players and an analysis of their athletic ability and strength represented through their performances in the bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, and their 40-yard dash time. The players then moved on to other drills like the 20-yard and 60-yard shuttle and the three-cone drill before they entered the all-important position drills, where players are allowed to be worked by scouts or coaches from different NFL teams.

Kicker Michael Palardy was the first to perform individually for those in attendance. He punted the ball and kicked field goals from different angles and distances. “The workout was rushed, it was fast-paced.” he said. “Scouts come in and their attention span for specialists is very small.” Regardless of the quick drills Palardy completed, all scouts watched him kick and he definitely has a chance to play at the next level.

On the defensive end, a lot of eyes were on defensive tackle Daniel McCullers and his large 6’7 frame. He has the right body for the next level, but has caught a good amount of criticism for his lack of quickness and good movement. Dontavis Sapp and Jacques Smith were also looked at and they both stated that they wanted to do anything to help an NFL team improve.

Rajion Neal had a good pro day and may have improved his draft stock. He ran a 4.53 40-yard dash time and really stood out in the receiving and running back drills. Originally projected to be drafted in the sixth or seventh round, Neal may have helped himself move up a little on team’s draft boards.

Most of the attention during pro day was on Antonio Richardson, Ja’Wuan James, James Stone, Zach Fulton and Alex Bullard who made up the Volunteers’ offensive line last year. All have the possibility of being drafted this year especially Antonio Richardson, who is projected to go in the first or second round while Ja’Wuan James has the possibility of going in the second round. Richardson made a few mental errors in the position drills and he was pushed harder by the scouts than any other player. Richardson said that there are about 16 teams that have contacted him.

Regardless, he did show why he is projected to go so high in this year’s draft in his performance. “I tried to show the scouts that I was healthy and that I have my explosiveness back.” Richardson said. “You don’t really know anything until draft day though, it’s hard to see who’s showing me more interest than others.” Ja’Wuan James agreed with Richardson in that you have no idea what the scouts could be thinking. “It’s weird not getting feedback from coaches right away. I came out to show that I can fit any scheme and that I’m a versatile lineman.”

Scouts circle up and jot down notes during Tennessee's Pro Day. Photo by Jordan Dajani.

Scouts circle up and jot down notes during Tennessee’s Pro Day. Photo by Jordan Dajani.

Offensive line coaches Tom Cable from the Seattle Seahawks and George Yarno from the Jacksonville Jaguars worked the offensive lineman hard, putting them through multiple tough drills and were obviously thinking hard about drafting one of the five. All eyes were on the lineman today, but after almost an hour, only representatives from the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets were left watching and talking to the lineman at the end of their workout.

The NFL Draft begins on May 8.

Edited by Zach Dennis

About Jordan Dajani

Jordan is an aspiring sports journalist from Raleigh, NC majoring in Journalism/Electronic Media and minoring in Business at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. If Jordan isn't watching Sportscenter, then he's playing ball somewhere in K-town. Follow him on twitter at @JDnumba3.

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