LSU’s Pro Day came and went on Monday, giving a host of former Tigers standouts one last opportunity to work out in front of NFL scouts and prospective NFL teams before April’s draft.
Four of the ex-Tigers that participated in the NFL combine were on hand, as were some of their former teammates that did not receive an invitation to last month’s event in Indianapolis.
The stage was set for both projected early- and late-round draft picks, as well as potential free agents, to turn some heads.
Here were three former LSU players that did just that and improved their draft stock during the Pro Day:
There was no bigger story on Monday than Jones’ blazing speed during the 40-yard dash.
The former LSU linebacker and one of the draft’s biggest risers in recent weeks posted a time of 4.38 after clocking in a 4.5 last month at the combine.
“Did a breeze go through?” Jones asked with an obvious smile afterwards.
Jones, a probable second- or third-round selection, may have solidified his second-round status and could even have teams chomping at the bit toward the end of the first round with this kind of performance.
A 6-foot-1, 221-pounder with just one year of starting experience under his belt, Jones was considered one of the bigger uncertainties heading into the 2015 LSU football season. Now, he’s being looked at perhaps one of the most coveted linebackers in the 2016 draft class.
Of course, NFL teams will be keying in on more than just a 40 time. But Jones’ physical traits speak for themselves, as did his play on the field last season.
Already Mills was one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2016 draft class, but the former LSU defensive back followed in the footsteps — (literally) — of his former teammates Jones and improved upon his 40 time.
Mills clocked in a 4.48 40 after running a 4.61 last month at the combine, which likely improved his short-term outlook in the NFL.
Previously, the 6-foot, 193-pounder was considered either a safety or a nickelback. But with an improved 40
time, more NFL teams could show interest in Mills, who looks to also be a fit at cornerback with that kind of speed.
“A lot of guys say they can play all the positions, and then they run slow,” Mills said. “That was a big emphasis for me to run faster in my 40. A lot of guys that say, ‘he’s just a safety or just a nickel.’ Now they know I can play cornerback or in the middle of the field from hash to hash.”
Mills was the lone defensive back working out for LSU on Monday, but impressed nonetheless.
His versatility should be intriguing for NFL teams, and his performance at Pro Day cleared up any lingering doubt that he is still dealing with a hangover effect from the broken fibula he suffered last preseason.
The former LSU linebacker did not get a chance to work out at the NFL combine last month, so Louis maintained that the Tigers’ Pro Day was his “once in a lifetime” sort of opportunity.
Louis, who has trimmed down to 224 pounds, worked out at his natural position of linebacker. However, it was an informal way for scouts on hand to also get a look at him as both a running back and a safety.
The Seattle Seahawks, who should be in the market for a Marshawn Lynch successor, are interested in Louis as part of their new-look backfield. The Minnesota Vikings are keen on Louis staying on the defensive side of the ball, but as a safety.
“I almost worked out at running back today actually,” Louis said. “The Seahawks are a team that see me at running back, but they said they’d see my ball skills during my the linebacker drills. I know I’ll be working at running back down the road.
“I got a call from the Vikings, who wanted to see my mobility, if I could run. At 223, 224 pounds, I could lose weight if I had to or I could gain weight if I had to.”
Louis was recruited to LSU as both a linebacker and running back, but opted to play the former because then-Tigers defensive coordinator John Chavis was his primary recruiter. When he arrived, he considered a switch to safety, but LSU was already deep at the position.
Louis put up a personal-best 26 repetitions on the bench press at the Pro Day and is open to playing linebacker, safety or running back, so long that he has an opportunity to compete in the NFL.
He should be considered a mid- to late-round selection, or at the very least one of the most highly sought-after undrafted free agents.