2017 NFL Draft: Toledo prospects, Syracuse WR draw attention at pro days
More than 20 NFL teams were in attendance for Toledo’s pro day on Monday, including Lions general manager Bob Quinn, head coach Jim Caldwell and running back coach David Walker.
The main draw was senior running back Kareem Hunt, who ran his 40-yard dash in the high 4.5 range, a better number than his 4.62 at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. He impressed during the positional drills, especially catching the ball out of the backfield.
Hunt, who finished his Toledo career No. 3 on the MAC’s all-time rushing list with 4,945 yards, averaged 6.3 yards per rush over the past four seasons and was one of the better receiving backs as a senior with 41 receptions. He is a smooth athlete with nifty feet for a bigger back to make defenders miss with lateral quickness and patience. Hunt maintains his low pad level and doesn’t make it easy on tacklers with his physical run style.
With his well-rounded abilities as a runner, receiver and blocker, Hunt will be the No. 1 senior running back prospect on many NFL draft boards, projecting in the range between rounds 2-4.
The other popular prospect at the Rockets’ pro day was tight end Michael Roberts, who drew several NFL tight ends coaches to the workout. He ran a 4.86 40-yard dash at the combine and improved on that number on Monday by a tenth of a second, turning in times in the mid-4.7s. Roberts also put up 21 reps on the bench press after not lifting in Indianapolis due to a muscle strain.
Offensive tackle Storm Norton, who wasn’t invited to the combine, also received positive reviews with his performance in the positional drills.
Division-III powerhouse Mount Union, the alma mater of Rockets’ head coach Jason Candle, was represented at Toledo’s pro day by diminutive running back B.J. Mitchell (5-5, 170 pounds). He finished his prolific career No. 3 on the Purple Raiders career rushing list and posted a 4.50 40-yard dash, 36-inch vertical and 9-feet-4 broad jump. Mitchell is a long shot to be drafted, but he did well in front of NFL decision-makers on Monday.
Etta-Tawo helps stock at Syracuse pro day
After his breakout senior season, wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo helped himself at the Senior Bowl and combine. And he kept that trend going at the pro day. Etta-Tawo ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at Lucas Oil Stadium last month and improved upon that number on Monday with times in the 4.39-4.45 range.
The graduate transfer from Maryland, Etta-Tawo set a school record with seven 100-yard receiving games in 2016 (with several different quarterbacks), going from draft long shot to probable draft pick. The only question is, how high? He needs to eliminate the drops and add branches to his route tree, but Etta-Tawo will have a chance to work his way up an NFL depth chart as a rookie.