Scouts and coaches from 30 NFL teams converged on Williams-Brice Stadium to take a look at 15 former Gamecocks looking for a shot at a professional contract. Each player had his time to shine, but some were in the spotlight more than others.
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery
The player with the most to show on Wednesday morning was wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who showed up at the NFL Combine a svelte 216 pounds, but elected not to run or participate in receiving drills, which raised a red flag in the eyes of NFL brass. He was going to put all of his eggs in one basket - USC’s Pro Timing Day - and it was his time to show off.
“I’m glad it’s behind me,” Jeffery said. “I went out and gave it my best shot. The results are going to be what they’re going to be.”
Where Jeffery was really questioned entering the day was in regard to his speed. NFL scouting is all about measurables, and the jury was out on how well he would run. Jeffery has never been known to be fleet of foot, but he’s rarely tracked down when he gets behind a defender.
Forty-yard dash times were not electronically timed. Each scout kept their own stopwatch, so Jeffery’s time varied from person to person. Kevin Weidl, an NFL Draft analyst from ESPN, posted to his Twitter account that scouts told him that Jeffery was clocked in the high 4.4s to low 4.5s.
“I felt like I ran fast,” Jeffery said.
Jeffery finished his career as South Carolina’s all-time leading receiver in just three seasons. He caught 183 passes for 3,042 yards and 23 touchdowns in his career, which could finish in a draft selection from anywhere to the first to third round.
“I wasn’t paying attention to all of that,” Jeffery said. “People are going to say whatever they’re going to say. I just want to go out there and prove what I’ve got to do.”
There were two other first-round hopefuls - defensive end/outside linebacker Melvin Ingram and cornerback Stephon Gilmore - on the field Wednesday morning. Many are projecting Ingram as a top 15 pick in April’s draft, but Gilmore is right there on the fringe of the first and second round.
Marty Markett impressing so far. Teammates roared when he hit his 40.5 vertical. Also a 10-10 broad jump. -@GamecockFB
The main reason teams want to see Ingram is to determine where he may fit in their system. A middle linebacker when he arrived at South Carolina, the Hamlet, N.C. native played both end at tackle later in his career. At the next level, Ingram will play either defensive end in a 4-3 scheme or outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
“I just tried to come out here, work hard, and have a productive day,” Ingram said. “I just try to come out here and be prepared and get better every day. I don’t come out here trying to make money. I just go out there and lay it all on the line.”
Ingram has gotten a lot of national air time participating in different all-star events as well as a feature on ESPN’s Sports Science. He said he’s had a great time participating in different events.
“They came to me about it. They went to my agent,” Ingram said. “I like having fun and I like competing. It was a great experience for me.”
Ingram finished his career with 109 total tackles, which includes 30.5 tackles for a loss of yards. He had 21.5 career sacks, a forced fumble and two interceptions.
Every team had their eye on Gilmore. While only about half of the teams at Williams-Brice would have the chance to take Ingram due to his lofty projection, Gilmore could be available late in the first round or in the second round, which would open him up to possibly being drafted by any team in the country.
Gilmore started and played in all 40 games of his college career and totaled 181 tackles. He had seven sacks and 15 total tackles for a losss. He had eight interceptions, four of which came during his junior season, and 17 pass breakups.
Offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins was projected as a late-round pick entering his Pro Day workout. He was pleased with his numbers at the NFL Combine in January, but he wanted to get his weight down. He’s dropped 11 pounds since the Combine and weight 328 pounds.
Offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins
“I felt like I got everything done I needed to do,” Watkins said. “I definitely feel like I helped myself, not just from a performance standpoint, but my weight and my measurables.”
Watkins said that teams have talked to him about playing guard, tackle, and even center. He said that teams like his physicality and the athleticism for his size.
Defensive tackle Travian Robertson didn’t participate in the running drills, choosing to stand on his times from the NFL Combine. He did the defensive line drills after fighting through a bit of a groin injury.
“I felt good about my time (at the Combine),” Robertson said. “I felt healthy enough to come out here, do the drills, and I didn’t want to risk anything.”
Robertson had 123 total tackles over his five seasons at South Carolina. He had 6.5 sacks and 21 total tackles for a loss. He also had five pass breakups and three fumble recoveries.
Safety Antonio Allen has been projected by some as the second player at his position off the board behind Alabama’s Mark Barron. Allen didn’t put forth an effort at the NFL Combine that he was happy with in the 40-yard dash, but he made up for it at USC’s Pro Timing Day.
“I just tried to get out there and show the scouts what they want to see,” Allen said. “It is what it is. I ran a 4.67 at the Combine and ran a 4.55 out here, so that’s a big thing. That was the main thing I was focused on today, so I did what I had to do.”
Allen said that he’s tried to pay as little attention as possible to projections. He’s said that different people project him in so many different rounds that he tries not to think about it.
Allen played four seasons and started for the better part of three years for the Gamecocks. He led the team in tackles his senior season with 88 and totaled 198 for his entire career. He had 3.5 quarterback sacks and 20 tackles for a loss of yards. He also forced six fumbles and had four interceptions, three of which came his senior season.
Other Pro Timing Day attendees included wide receiver Jason Barnes, offensive lineman Terrence Campbell, defensive back Marty Markett, offensive lineman Kyle Nunn, linebacker Rodney Paulk, kicker Joey Scribner-Howard, defensive back C.C. Whitlock, and kicker Jay Wooten.
Former Gamecocks who were in attendance included Travelle Wharton, Jasper Brinkley, Ko Simpson, Johnathan Joseph, Patrick DiMarco, Hutch Eckerson, Weslye Saunders, Terry Cousin, Duce Staley Dion Lecorn, and Jarriel King. Most of the current players were in attendance for at least part of the workout.
Measurables from USC Sports Info
Name Ht. Wt. Vert. (In.) Broad (Ft.-In.) Bench (Reps of 225 lb.)
Antonio Allen 6-1 1/8 206 - - -
Jason Barnes 6-3 3/8 208 34 10-4 14
Terrence Campbell 6-2 5/8 304 29 8-9 1/2 34
Stephen Garcia 6-2 1/8 218 31 9-2 -
Stephon Gilmore 6-0 5/8 189 - - -
Melvin Ingram 6-1 1/2 265 - - -
Alshon Jeffery 6-2 3/4 213 36 1/2 10-2 -
Marty Markett 5-8 5/8 172 40 1/2 10-10 12
Kyle Nunn 6-5 3/8 294 25 8-6 -
Rodney Paulk 5-11 7/8 236 31 8-9 1/2 23
Travian Robertson 6-4 300 26 - -
Joey Scribner-Howard 6-0 1/8 206 - - -
Rokevious Watkins 6-3 5/8 328 26 1/2 - 19
C.C. Whitlock 5-9 1/2 181 38 1/2 9-11 9
Jay Wooten 6-2 7/8 196 35 1/2 - -