Though it was an achingly beautiful day in the mighty city of Jonesboro, the Red Wolves held its NFL Pro-Day at its sparkling new indoor facility (The Big SAC). There were many feats of strength and acrobatics on display for the scouts representing fourteen NFL franchises: New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, and the Washington Redskins.
With the usual weight-lifting and speed drills came a couple of surprises.
Quarterback Fredi Knighten is now Wide Receiver Fredi Knighten
There were rumors that Knighten would shift positions to improve his NFL stock, and those rumors proved correct as Fredi was seen hauling in tosses from former Southern Miss & UAB quarterback Arsenio Favor.
Fredi Knighten is stronger than he looks
At the bench press, Knighten lifted 225lbs seventeen times, which matched anyone in the building, including 6'5" 265lb TE Darion Griswold (also 17 reps). It's possible that Fredi is auditioning for a role as Captain America as well as a position with an NFL team.
A surprise Austin Copeland sighting!
The 200lb linebacker wasn't included on the original participation list, but Copeland was on hand to run and jump for scouts. Also on hand: defensive specialists Sterling Young and Kyle Coleman.
It was the Rocky Hayes Show
The slick DB didn't terrorize opposing offenses this year with flowers and chocolates. Rocky's six INTs came courtesy of some mad skills he was glad to showcase for NFL thought-leaders.
@Rocky_Hayes with a 38" vertical and 10' 11" broad jump, which would of ranked in top 5 at the combine in both categories for CB's!— J.C. (@JC_RWRC) April 5, 2016
Darion Griswold proved he belongs
At A-State Pro Day, Big Gris measured well against the invited NFL Combine athletes. His 17 reps of 225 pounds would have ranked him tied for eighth among tight ends (with Jake McGee of Florida and Nick Vannett of Ohio State.) His 31.5 inch vertical would have placed 8th, and his 4.78 40-yd dash* would have ranked 7th fastest. Why the Reese's Pro Bowl invitee was excluded from the NFL Combine remains a mystery.
J.D. McKissic didn't hurt (or dramatically help) his draft stock
J.D. is country-strong, posting 17 reps of 225lbs on the bench, good for 5th place among WRs competing at the NFL Combine. He also recorded the fastest 40 at A-State Pro-Day (4.59). It's a good time, but it's not elite. Of course, a 40 time doesn't tell McKissic's story. His versatility and toughness as a Red Wolves multi-purpose wideout does. Let's hope the scouts are watching tape, too.
JD McKissic is actually a pretty interesting slot target to monitor. Could be a Lucky Whitehead or something— Mario Puig (@NFLDraft_RW) April 5, 2016
Tres Houston's performance was...puzzling.
Tres, he of the acrobatic end zone catches, recorded the same vertical leap as the infinitely heavier Darion Griswold (31.5 inches). His 40 time (4.6) was a blink quicker than Knighten's (4.69) but slower than McKissic's (4.59). Tres Houston caught the most TD passes in the Sun Belt in 2015, which should weigh more than his vertical.
The NFL Draft starts April 28th. The Red Wolves enjoyed eight straight years of professional draft picks until the streak was broken in 2015. For additional coverage and analysis of A-State Pro Day, check in here and here and here, too.
* 40 times were measured by each scout in attendance and are not official times