LARAMIE — Nico Evans and Marcus Epps finally got the shot they’ve both been waiting for at Wyoming’s Pro Day on Thursday.
Neither of them disappointed.
Evans and Epps turned in strong performances in their lone opportunity to work out in front of NFL personnel before this year’s draft, which will be held April 25-27 in Nashville, Tennessee. Scouts representing 29 of the league’s 32 teams gathered inside Wyoming’s Indoor Practice Facility to watch eight former Cowboys go through on-field drills and workouts for roughly two hours.
Safety Andrew Wingard, tight ends Austin Fort and Tyree Mayfield, defensive end Kevin Prosser, nose tackle Sidney Malauulu and defensive back Chavez Pownell Jr. also worked out, but Evans and Epps led the pack.
Epps, a four-year starter at safety, was clocked at 4.52 seconds and 4.54 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Epps, who shook off cramps in between attempts, said one scout in attendance clocked him at 4.46.
They’re all average or above-average times for a safety, though Epps put far more than his speed on display. He recorded a 38.5-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 10 feet, 4 inches while also turning in times of 4.06 in the 20-yard shuttle and 6.79 in the three-cone drill.
Epps also flashed athleticism and fluidity in his position drills, stretching out to make an acrobatic over-the-shoulder catch during one of them. Epps played three different positions in the secondary (free safety, strong safety, nickel) during his time with the Cowboys and is hopeful his versatility combined with his numbers attracts more NFL attention.
“I feel like I proved I can run, and I have all the athletic ability that maybe most people thought I didn’t have,” Epps said. “I thought I proved I’m very fluid in my position drills and I can play any position back there.”
Evans kept pace with Epps’ numbers, clocking in the mid-to-low 4.5s in the 40 while turning in a 37.5-inch vertical. He also had a 10-1 broad jump and recorded 22 reps on the bench press.
“I thought I did a really good job today,” Evans said. “I hit my expectations, which is really hard to do because I usually have high expectations for myself.”
Evans led the Mountain West in rushing last season despite missing nearly three full games because of injury and ranked fourth nationally in yards per game (132.5), but he wasn’t invited to the NFL scouting combine. Neither was Epps, though both of them put up numbers that compared favorably to players at their respective positions who did work out in Indianapolis.
Evans’ bench and broad jump would’ve ranked in the top 10 among running backs who participated in the combine while his vertical would’ve been the fourth-highest. Epps’ broad jump would’ve ranked eighth, his vertical would’ve ranked fifth, his 20-yard shuttle time would’ve ranked third, and his time in the three-cone drill would’ve been second among safeties.
“I just wanted come out and make my numbers eye-popping so that they’ll go back and watch film from the last two years and kind of be like, ‘Who is this?’” Epps said. “I feel like I did that today.”
Thursday’s performance was even more important for Evans considering there isn’t nearly as much tape on the 5-foot-9, 211-pounder. Evans, who waited four years before becoming the Cowboys’ featured running back, had just 36 career carries before his breakout senior season — one in which he averaged 6.5 yards per carry and more than 40 yards on his eight touchdown runs.
“(I wanted to show) that my film from this year wasn’t just a fluke,” Evans said. “I have the film from just one year, but if they come out and see me in person, they can see that I can actually ball.
Epps finished his career with 325 tackles, nine interceptions and 31 passes defended after arriving in Laramie four years ago as a walk-on. Despite their production, both are sleeper prospects who know they may have to take the free-agent route to reach the next level.
“A lot of people went the undrafted route and they’re great players,” Epps said. “It doesn’t matter too much to me where I go. It doesn’t matter how I get there. It just matters what I do when I get there just like my journey here.”
But both gave NFL teams a little more to ponder between now and when the draft starts April 25.
“I just had my opportunity, and I took advantage of it,” Evans said. “That’s all I can really do.”