Penn State football: Nittany Lions use pro day to bolster their NFL stock

tjohnson@centredaily.comApril 8, 2014 

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Penn State’s Allen Robinson improved on his numbers from the February’s NFL Combine during the Nittany Lions’ Pro Day on Tuesday at Holuba Hall.

ABBY DREY — CDT file photo Buy Photo

— NFL scouts from 26 teams came and went, in and out of the doors to Penn State’s Holuba Hall on Tuesday.

Inside, former Penn State players spent the morning auditioning for them — some for the second time. Vaunted receiver Allen Robinson was one of them whose aim was to improve his stock before May’s NFL Draft.

“It’s everybody’s dream and I would love to go in the first round,” Robinson said. “But I can’t control that. So wherever I end up going, God has blessed me with being picked by a team once draft weekend happens. So all I can do is stay prepared, stay ready and once my name is called, just try to go there and show those guys what I can do and try to earn a spot on the field.”

Robinson turned in middle-of-the-pack results at February’s NFL Scouting Combine but stepped on the Holuba Hall turf and drew NFL eyes his way on Tuesday. He improved his 40-yard dash time by two tenths of a second and posted impressive numbers in the vertical and broad jumps.

With Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin looking on, Robinson turned in a 4.47 40-yard dash — he ran a 4.6 in February — and improved his vertical jump from 39 to 42 inches and his broad jump from 10 ½ feet to 11 feet.

Although he weighed in at a reported 220 pounds at the combine, Robinson was down to a lean 208 before Penn State’s Pro Day began. In addition to his workouts, Robinson ran routes and caught passes from his cousin, former Canadian Football League quarterback Kevin Glenn.

Since finishing back-to-back record-breaking seasons in 2012 and 2013, Robinson has been training at The Performance Compound in Tampa Bay. He returned there after the Combine and focused most of his efforts to nutrition and improving his 40-yard dash technique.

Scouts have mentioned Robinson’s lack of speed relative to other players who will make up a deep receiver class as his primary knock.

A handful of other wideouts — including Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans — are projected to be taken before Robinson in several mock drafts. But the Penn State receiver, who still had a year of eligibility left when he declared for the draft, said he doesn’t regret forgoing his final year at Penn State.

“I think I made the right decision,” Robinson said. “I would say I’ve seen a lot of improvement in myself as a player and kind of starting to handle things on my own as well. I think I made the best decision I could’ve made and I’m real comfortable with that.”

Robinson was joined by former teammates offensive lineman John Urschel and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, who also participated at the Combine.

Jones has spent the last few weeks in Pensacola, Fla. at EXOS Athletes’ Performance. He weighed in for scouts at 324 pounds and said he’s also dialed in his training to focus on performing in individual drills.

“It’s a little bit different,” said Jones, who ran a 5.25 40 and did a few defensive line drills. “You’ve got to take care of your body more. You have to be smart in your lifts. You’re not lifting real heavy. Just to stay in shape. And you’re more working on agility stuff more in the weight room, working on long conditioning and short stuff. It’s not too bad.”

Meanwhile, a handful of other players made their first expanded debuts for NFL teams.

Linebacker Glenn Carson, defensive backs Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, offensive linemen Garry Gilliam and Adam Gress, tight end Matt Lehman and punter Alex Butterworth also worked out.

“I definitely came in today with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder,” Carson a four-year letterman, said. “I kind of felt as though I should’ve got a Combine invite. And that’s why I had to go out here and impress people today. I just felt like I was a little under appreciated but all you can do is just put your head down and work and that’s what I did for these past three months.”

Carson trained for two months at EXOS with Jones then relocated to New Jersey before spending the last two weeks in State College. He left Holuba Hall feeling confident in his workouts.

A handful of NFL scouts approached him, Carson said after he put up 30 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, the same number completed by the Combine’s best finishers — Michigan State’s Max Bullough and California’s Khairi Fortt.

Carson ran a 4.7 in the 40 and a 4.25 in the shuttle run, both of which would’ve put him in the top 10 linebackers at the Combine.

“I couldn’t put a number on it but I definitely feel like I got noticed today,” Carson said. “I think a lot of scouts were impressed with what I did and I got noticed and that’s what Pro Day’s all about. I would love to be a part of this draft, man. It would be awesome to get drafted. I just hope I will be able to have that honor being in the draft this year.”

Meanwhile, Gilliam likes his chances. The former tight end-turned offensive tackle checked in at just over 300 pounds and said he felt like he impressed scouts, too.

Like Robinson, Gilliam decided to leave Penn State with a year of eligibility remaining. He moved in with his nutritionist in Los Angeles and has been training on the West Coast since the season ended.

Gilliam wasn’t sure what his numbers were although he did do every workout.

“(I was) pushing tight end numbers as an offensive tackle, so pretty good,” Gilliam said.

Although he decided to leave Penn State early, Gilliam hinted that he had second thoughts after the season ended. He declared for the NFL Draft later than he originally planned and said scouts were unaware he would work out on Tuesday.

When they saw the nimble, 6-foot-6 Gilliam, they were interested. Gilliam mentioned the Denver Broncos, New York Jets and New Orleans Saints as teams that have expressed desires to work him out.

“It was huge to come out here and be able to show them what I could do on the field,” Gilliam said. “I think a lot of them know that I’m a raw player and they want to develop me. But I think they’ll take a shot to do it.”

Follow Travis Johnson on Twitter @bytravisjohnson

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