In front of 55 NFL scouts, eight former University of Memphis football players participated in Memphis’ Pro Day on March 28 to showcase their skills and better their chances of being added to an NFL roster.
Much of the attention was centered on running backs Tony Pollard and Darrell Henderson, but there were other standouts who grabbed the scouts’ focus. One of them being linebacker Curtis Akins who was the Tigers’ leading tackler last season with 100 on the year.
He didn’t receive an invitation to the Scouting Combine, which meant this was his first real opportunity to showcase what he could do in front of NFL teams. When asked by the media, he told them he felt his workout went fairly well.
“I think my performance was great,” Akins said. “I came out here and hit what I was supposed to hit. I think what topped it off to make it a good day was doing 26 reps on the bench press and running a 4.46, 40 time.”
Now the 40-yard dash times weren’t confirmed at the conclusion of workouts, but Akins’ time would have placed him fourth among the 22 linebackers who participated in the drill at the Combine.
When asked what teams he’d been getting attention from, Akins highlighted one playoff team he’d gotten very familiar with.
“The Indianapolis Colts have shown me a lot of interest,” Akins said after working with their coaches during much of Wednesday’s drills. “Their linebackers’ coach said I’d be a great fit in their room and that they brought four of their people down to come and watch me.”
Offensive lineman Trevon Tate also got his first chance to show scouts what he could do on the field. He was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine but was unable to participate because of medical limitations.
When asked by the media how he thought his workout stacked up against the other offensive linemen of the class, he seemed confident in what he showed.
“I feel like I gave the scouts something to come out and see,” Tate said. “I did a lot better than I expected. With my 40, I wanted to run a 4.8, but I ended up running about a 4.9 which I’m satisfied with at 306 pounds. I feel like every drill that I did would have been at least in the top-10 among all the lineman who participated in the Combine.”
Pollard and Henderson were the last prospects to work out and participated in a series of drills to test their running, receiving and special teams abilities.
Pollard produced better testing numbers at Wednesday’s event than he did at the Combine. He explained to the media that he placed more value on his individualized workout.
“I took today as my Combine,” Pollard said. “At the Combine, I was sick with food poisoning as soon as I got there, so all of my numbers were lower than what I had been doing. I wasn’t able to be at 100 percent, but I still wanted to go out there and compete. So today I was able to come out here and really show what I could do.”
Henderson was the last player to speak with the media but has been the one to generate the most draft buzz. He’s currently projected to go anywhere from the second to the fourth round.
“I’ve been hearing that I’m one of the best backs besides (Josh) Jacobs,” Henderson said. “I believe that I’m one of the top backs in the draft, and I’ve been hearing it too.
Henderson also told the media he had frequent meetings with the Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles. Coincidentally, one of the coaches who was running his drills was Eagles’ running back coach Duce Staley.
These prospects and more will know their fates April 25 when the first round of the NFL Draft begins. The draft last from April 25 to 27 and will be hosted in Nashville, Tennessee.