Pro Day: 9 Irish NFL hopefuls work out for scouts

Nine former Notre Dame football players participated Tuesday in the school’s annual Pro Day, hoping to improve their draft stock in the eyes of coaches and scouts.

Robert Blanton, Taylor Dever, Darius Fleming, Michael Floyd, Gary Gray, Jonas Gray, Trevor Robinson, David Ruffer and Harrison Smith all participated in the Pro Day.

Receiver Michael Floyd, who set a plethora of Irish records during his four-year career, is expected to be chosen earliest of the Irish hopefuls come the NFL Draft on April 26. Floyd did not run a 40-yard dash or participate in bench press Tuesday, but caught passes from former teammate Jimmy Clausen, a current quarterback for the Carolina Panthers.

“Not a lot of people can say that their friend, a guy in the NFL, is coming back for an old teammate,” Floyd said. “But you know we are good friends and I have known him since I came here and before then being recruited. He is just a good guy that I like a lot and we are good friends."

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock praised Floyd after his sessions. “In my book he is (the best receiver in the Draft). If you take the off-the-field stuff away from Michael Floyd and just watch the tape, I think he compares very, very favorably to Justin Blackmon. In my opinion, I think Jacksonville at [No.] 7 starts his interest. I don’t think he gets past 16 with the Jets. I think there are some teams like Chicago hanging down there at 19 that would love to have Michael Floyd.”

Lovie Smith, head coach of the Chicago Bears, and Marvin Lewis, head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, were on hand presumably to watch Floyd.

"I just want to be picked,” Floyd said. “This is a goal of mine. It has been a dream since I was in third grade when I first started, to play in the NFL. It's a blessing to be here and in this position right now for what I have been through and I am just grateful to be in this position."

Harrison Smith, 2011’s sole team captain, also projects highly in this year’s draft.

"I think there is more and more awareness in Harrison Smith,” Mayock said of the safety. “I’ve loved watching him play football. He is so well coached by Bob Diaco so he understands the game. He gets everybody lined up, but what people didn’t understand till recently is that he a little bit of a freakish athlete.”

Mayock went on to add, “Somebody’s going to get a steal with Harrison Smith.”

"Draft day is so crazy you never know whats going to happen," Smith said after his workout. "I am just doing what I can do, putting my best foot forward and however it shakes out is how it shakes out."

Other notes from Tuesday’s Pro Day:
-Linebacker Darius Felmming caused the biggest stir, running a 40-yard dash in of 4.54 seconds, which would have ranked third among linebackers at the NFL Combine.
-Running back Jonas Gray not only participated, but also ran and cut on the field despite being only months removed from knee surgery.
- Robert Blanton posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.53 seconds. Blanton projects as more of a safety prospect. His 40 time would have put him in the top four among safeties at the Combine.
-Players worked out in front of representatives from 27 of 32 NFL teams. Two general managers, two head coaches, multiple coordinators and position coaches plus several scouts were in attendance.
-To read more notes and view comprehensive results from Notre Dame’s Pro Day, click the document above.


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