Some of the Houston Cougars' strongest talents have a prime opportunity to boost draft stock and set up NFL connections this Thursday as UH hosts its pro day. Every player has something to gain from a good performance, but certain players could take considerable steps towards the 2016 NFL draft.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how important this event will be to standout wide receiver Demarcus Ayers. Ayers has dealt with a broken hand this offseason, leading to a poor NFL combine showing, and now needs to reaffirm the potential we saw during the season.
And while Ayers will certainly be one of the most anticipated members of Thursday's combine, there are a few others who will be looking at the combine as a springboard or a validation of their talents.
William Jackson III, CB
William Jackson III will be the strongest NFL talent at the pro day other than Ayers, and for good reason. Besides having solid size (6'0", 189) and an aggressive style of play, Jackson has shown progression in both production and maturity.
Jackson brought down five picks in 2015, giving him a total of eight over three seasons at Houston, three of which that were brought back for TDs. But his big-play ability has been matched by consistent and dominant play, shown in his 23 passes defended this season.
Jackson doesn't have to do much in terms of the technical aspect of the game, but he has to prove he's taken steps to get physically prepared for the NFL. He's got the right frame for the NFL, but the athletic prowess of even an average NFL receiver will be better than Jackson's competition in 2015.
Elandon Roberts, ILB
Elandon Roberts quickly made a name for himself in 2015, after not seeing consistent play and appearances in his first three years in Houston. The 6'0", 230-pound linebacker racked up 88 solo tackles in 2015, along with six sacks and an interception.
Roberts became an integral part of the Cougars defense, primarily thanks to his variety of skills. A tenacious tackler and ball-seeker, Roberts also proved to be adept in coverage with five passes defended to go with his single interception.
Roberts' short but incredible rise is the most impactful detractor from his draft stock, but Thursday will be a chance to reaffirm his athleticism to pair with a very impressive season. Roberts' draft stock is on the fringe of the last couple rounds, but it is trending upward and performing well will only catalyze that movement.
Kenneth Farrow, RB
Kenneth Farrow looks to the NFL after four years of production for the Houston offense, which saw him total 1995 yards, 26 touchdowns and a 5.4 average per carry as a lead back in 2014 and 2015. Farrow has matured into a well-rounded back with stout power and quick feet.
Farrow was able to put up impressive numbers in 2015 despite suffering multiple injuries. Farrow is likely on the outside-looking-in in terms of the 2016 NFL draft, but he can possibly convince a team or two to use a seventh-round pick on him with an excellent pro day.
And even if that doesn't happen, Farrow is likely to be a promising undrafted free-agent signing. Executing well and getting in touch with scouts will help Farrow set up his NFL future, even if it doesn't include a draft selection.