Less than a month removed from the NFL Scouting Combine, a host of former Tigers are preparing to yet again separate themselves at LSU’s Pro Day on Monday.
Beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET, the likes of Jerald Hawkins, Vadal Alexander, Jalen Mills and Deion Jones will participate in numerous drills, including bench press, the 40-yard dash and individual position workouts, in front of an array of NFL teams and scouts.
With the NFL Draft set for the end of April, this will be the final chance for these former LSU standouts to impress prospective teams on the field.
Here are four things to watch:
Can Alexander improve his 40 time?
Alexander, a projected top-three offensive guard in this year’s draft, showed up to Indianapolis, Ind., 10 pounds lighter than his playing weight.
However, that didn’t translate to a faster time in the 40.
Alexander ran an unimpressive 5.57-second 40 and appears slow in agility drills. Of course, how quickly an offensive lineman can run a 40 isn’t going to determine how well he translates to the NFL, but it does give scouts and prospective teams an idea of how he’s keeping in shape during the offseason.
Alexander surrendered only one sack last season at LSU. At 6-foot-5 and 326 pounds with a 35 1/4-inch arms, he has the size and length coveted to play guard or perhaps tackle at the next level.
Running a faster 40 would discount some of the questions about his physical skills and possibly solidify his chances of being one of the first two or three linemen to hear their name called.
Will Jones continue to bolster his stock?
Arguably one of the biggest risers in this year’s draft class, Jones is in the process of putting the finishing touches on one of the biggest unknown-to-star stories.
A career special teamer for much of career at LSU, Jones earned a starting role prior to the 2015 season and is now on his way to potentially being drafted in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-1, 222-pound New Orleans native led the Tigers in tackles last season (100), including 13.5 for loss, to go along with five sacks, two interceptions, three pass breakups, six quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
Jones furthered that production with an outstanding outing at the combine by running the fourth-fastest 40 time among linebackers (4.59).
By maintaining all of his measurables on Monday, Jones should keep his stock afloat as one of the top backers in this year’s crop.
Hawkins needs to capitalize on his best trait
A potential second- or third-round selection, Hawkins’ stock could have been higher had he returned to Baton Rouge, La., for another season.
Instead, the fourth-year junior opted to test the waters and enter the NFL Draft despite receiving a not-so positive grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board.
Nonetheless, Hawkins has entered his name in the hat and is a likely second-day pick.
So, what’s there to do?
Last season, the left tackle powered through a bit of a down year with a banged-up foot and ankle. The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder didn’t use it as an excuse, but NFL teams may be able to read in between the lines that the healthy version of Hawkins could have an even higher ceiling.
At the combine last month, Hawkins clocked in a 5.23-second 40, which was good for 12th out of 22 tackles. He put up 23 bench reps, posted a 4.89-second 20-yard shuttle and finished the cone drill in 8.19 seconds.
More than just improving on those measurables, Hawkins just needs to further explain his injury-plagued 2015 season and show what he’s capable of doing at 100 percent. He has elite size and power, not to mention experience at the most important position along the offensive line.
He may just wind up being quite the steal.
If Mills is to play cornerback, he needs a faster 40
One of Mills’ most desirable traits is that he can play either the slot or safety in the NFL.
But if he believes he can be be a true NFL cornerback, then the former LSU star will need to improve his 40 time on Monday.
Mills clocked in a 4.61 40 at the NFL Combine, but teams that view him as a potential cornerback may be scared off by that time.
Instead, Mills has intrigued other teams as a safety that could also spend some snaps in the slot.
Among safeties, Mills finished in the top three in the short shuttle (4.0), three-cone drill (6.86) and 60-yard shuttle (11.53). He also recorded one of the better high jump numbers for his position with a 37-inch vertical jump, good for fifth.
With a bit of uncertainty with regard to Mills’ future position, he’s considered a second-round selection. A faster 40 gives him the versatility to be either a cornerback or a safety, which makes me a more viable option for more NFL teams and could naturally increase his draft stock.