All 32 NFL teams scout UB's Pro Day

Bulls take advantage of Mack-supplied spotlight

By BEN TARHAN
On March 4, 2014

  • Standout linebacker Khalil Mack was on hand, sporting his NFL Combine gear, to participate in the 40-yard dash and skill drills. Ben Tarhan, The Spectrum
  • Wide receiver Alex Neutz displayed his 33-inch vertical Tuesday. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum
  • Running back Branden Oliver leapt 33.5 inches. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum
  • Oliver, UB's all-time leading rusher, has a chance to be selected late in the NFL Draft. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum
  • Defensive end Colby Way had five sacks in 2013. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum

Representatives from every NFL team and several CFL teams visited the Buffalo Bills' Fieldhouse Tuesday to watch a group of 20 players showcase their athleticism - lifting weights, sprinting, jumping and lunging in hopes of impressing professional scouts.

The UB football program hosted its annual Pro Day, at which 16 Buffalo seniors (as well as four athletes from other local colleges) put their skills on display for NFL teams. Linebacker Khalil Mack was the clear center of attention as he ran the 40-yard dash and participated in skill drills.

"It was important for me and my confidence to go back out and try to get under 4.6, which I know I am capable of doing," said Mack, who ran a 4.65 at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Though scouts gravitated toward Mack -all eyes were on him whenever he stepped onto the turf, whether he was performing or just lacing up his cleats - other players took advantage of the spotlight with strong performances.

Buffalo's all-time rushing leader, Branden Oliver, put up 26 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. He also ran an unofficial time of 4.6 in the 40-yard dash.

Cornerback Najja Johnson was able to rep 11 times on the bench press and also reached 30.5 inches in the high jump. His unofficial 40-yard dash time was 4.29.

All-time receiving touchdown leader Alex Neutz reached 33 inches on the high jump, and he bench-pressed 14 reps. Neutz's unofficial 40-yard dash time was 4.6. After Neutz's third 40-yard dash attempt, he pulled up and grabbed his right hamstring. He did not participate in any drills after that.

"It's frustrating to spend that much time working so hard to perfect all these crafts that we're doing here today and then ... pull up a little limp and have to call it a day," Neutz said. "It definitely was a little frustrating, but I'm not down about it."

Wide receivers Fred Lee and Natey Adjei, running back Brandon Murie, tight ends Jimmy Gordon and Ed Harof, defensive backs Derek Brim, Carlos Lammons, Tomarris Bell and Okoye Houston, defensive linemen Colby Way and Beau Bachtelle and offensive lineman Jasen Carlson were the other Bulls who worked out.

Tuesday had a different feel from past Pro Days with so many NFL scouts in the building. The previous high for NFL franchises represented at Bulls Pro Day was 17 in 2013.

Neutz, who participated in the NFLPA Collegiate Game Jan. 18 in Carson, Calif., said it was unexpected to see so many scouts there and called it a great day for the program. He also called Mack an ambassador between UB football and the NFL.

Despite reaching the end of his playing days in the Bulls uniform, Mack still feels a strong connection to his teammates.

"I don't feel like I'm anywhere yet," Mack said. "I'm still working hard and I want to continue to help [my teammates] work hard to get to where they want to be as well."

Mack is expected to come off the board early in May's NFL Draft, with some outlets predicting him to be one of the top five picks. Although prominent mock drafts do not currently have any other Bulls being drafted, it is likely that a handful will get the opportunity to compete for an NFL roster spot as undrafted free agents.

"All this is a bonus," Neutz said. "I never really saw myself getting this far in my career. So, really, if I just get a tryout with a team and get a chance to go prove myself at the next level, I'll be happy."

The first round of the NFL Draft will take place May 8, and the draft will continue on May 9 and 10.

 


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