LARAMIE — It may not create the same amount of buzz it did last year when NFL personnel flocked to Laramie to watch eventual top-10 pick Josh Allen work out, but Wyoming’s pro day won’t be short on action.
Many of Wyoming’s draft hopefuls will get their shot in front of scouts Thursday at the Cowboys’ Indoor Practice Facility. Wyoming’s top draft prospect, defensive end Carl Granderson (third-degree sexual assault charge), and defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan, a junior who declared for the draft after pleading no contest to misdemeanor harassment in January, won’t attend, but eight seniors off last year’s team will take part in a variety of drills in hopes of impressing enough for a shot at the next level.
On-field workouts begin at 10 a.m. Here’s what — and who — to watch for heading into the event.
Can Wingard improve?
This will be the latest chance to test in front of NFL personnel for former safety Andrew Wingard, who played in the East-West Shrine Game in January before going through the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis earlier this week.
Wingard posted solid numbers at the combine, including a 4.56-second 40-yard dash — a good time for a safety. But Wingard said before the combine he’d hoped to run faster than that and possibly clock in the high 4.4s.
With speed and agility being the biggest concerns for teams at the next level regarding Wingard’s game, it’s perhaps the most important part of Wingard’s testing during the pre-draft process. The Mountain West’s co-leader in career tackles didn’t do anything to hurt his draft stock in Indianapolis, but a faster time Thursday could certainly help it.
What will Evans do?
Nico Evans was a virtual unknown in college football before last season, making him an ultimate sleeper leading up to the draft.
Evans waited four years to become the Cowboys’ primary running back before exploding onto the scene as a fifth-year senior, leading the MW in rushing (1,325 yards) and finishing fourth nationally in yards per game (132.5). Evans played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl but sparingly.
But these are the kind of events where unknown quantities can become known in a hurry with a good showing. For Evans, it could be the difference in possibly sneaking into the later rounds of the draft or having to go the free-agent route. Evans is a compact runner at 5-foot-9 and 211 pounds, and he’ll get a chance to display the explosiveness that helped him average more than 40 yards on his touchdown runs this past season.
Epps gets his shot
While Wingard got most of the pub on the back end of Wyoming’s defense the last four years, Marcus Epps turned in a career that wasn’t too shabby. The Cowboys’ other safety started alongside Wingard for the duration of that time and finished with 325 career tackles, nine interceptions and 31 pass breakups.
Epps has a high football IQ, which always seemed to have him in the right place at the right time and rarely out of position. But Epps didn’t participate in any postseason all-star games nor was he invited to the combine, so this will be his first chance to show league personnel his physical skill set in a workout setting. Epps may have to go the free-agent route, but similar to Evans, strong numbers Thursday could get the 6-0, 206-pounder some looks in the later rounds of the draft.
Under the radar
The high-profile names get most of the attention heading into pro day, but this event always seems to produce a player or two flying under the radar that suddenly gets people talking with numbers that nobody saw coming.
One candidate this year is Gillette native Austin Fort, who began his career with the Cowboys as a quarterback before leaving and returning as a tight end. A knee injury rendered Fort largely ineffective in the passing game for much of his senior season, but if he’s healthy, the 6-4, 245-pounder could turn some heads with his athleticism.
Fellow tight end Tyree Mayfield (team-best 16.2 yards per catch) could do the same while defensive tackle Sidney Malauula, at 6-3 and 306 pounds, has the size NFL teams look for at that position. Defensive end Kevin Prosser and defensive back Chavez Pownell Jr. will also participate.