STATE COLLEGE – Nine Penn State draft hopefuls planned to flash their skills last week during Penn State’s pro day ahead of April’s NFL draft.
They never had the chance. The NCAA-wide cancellation of all sports-related activity shuttered Penn State’s draft showcase.
That hasn’t stopped some players from taking to social media to promote their draft stock.
Penn State senior safety Garrett Taylor over the weekend posted a two-minute video on Twitter of him bench pressing 21 reps of 225 pounds. Taylor’s video generated more than 83,000 views.
“Never thought I’d be in this type of predicament, but I’m not going to let my 2 months of preparing and training for pro day go to waste,” Taylor said in the Tweet.
Nittany Lions senior offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez on Sunday uploaded a nine-second workout video at what appeared to be a high school football field to Twitter.
“4.58 pro agility, told you guys I can move,” Gonzalez said in the tweet.
Two days before, Gonzalez posted a mock pro day clip to Twitter and said he ran a 5.15 40-yard dash and turned in a 1.75 in the 10-yard split.
Fellow Nittany Lions Nick Bowers (tight end), Cam Brown (linebacker), Weston Carr (wide receiver), Dan Chisena (wide receiver), Blake Gillikin (punter), Yetur Gross-Matos (defensive end), KJ Hamler (wide receiver, return specialist), Jan Johnson (linebacker), John Reid (cornerback) and Robert Windsor (defensive tackle) were scheduled to join Taylor and Gonzalez last week at pro day.
Taylor, Brown, Gillikin, Gonzalez, Gross-Matos, Hamler, Johnson, Reid and Windsor started at their respective positions last season.
Brown, Hamler, Windsor, Gross-Matos and Reid participated in the NFL combine.
Gross-Matos received a 6.50 grade at the combine, while Hamler graded out at a 6.40. Reid graded at 5.98, Brown at 5.97 and Windsor at 5.46.
Gross-Matos is widely accepted by draft experts to be a first-round pick, while Hamler is projected to be selected in the first three rounds.
Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Hanson has Gross-Matos listed at No. 32 on his draft board’s top 100 prospects.
“With his length, agility and first step, Gross-Matos has been a productive pass-rusher for Penn State with 17 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss combined over the past two seasons,” Hanson wrote.
Hanson ranks Hamler at No. 58.
Former NFL wide receiver and current NFL Network analyst Steve Smith Sr. included Hamler on his list of instant impact receivers who won’t cost a first-round pick.
“He’s an explosive jitterbug who brings a lot to the table – chairs AND the meal,” Smith wrote. “I know there will be teams that pass on him because he isn’t the right size (5-9, 176 pounds), but they will realize just how foolish that decision was once he gets in the league. Hamler has a ton of upside and will be a troublemaker for NFL defensive coordinators. Don’t let his stature sway you.”
The NFL Draft is scheduled for April 23-25 in Las Vegas, but prospects for a traditional in-person draft ceremony appear to be in jeopardy as league brass look to minimize potential exposure to the coronavirus.
“Planning for the Draft is a good example of how we need to think differently, embrace technology and collaborate,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “We will also use the Draft to help support fans and those people impacted in our communities.
“While there have been changes to the way we work and some of our plans, we have an unwavering commitment to upholding the NFL’s legacy of unifying and lifting the spirit of America, and bringing out the best in our fans and in our communities around the world. You’ll hear more from us in the days and weeks ahead about how we intend to demonstrate that commitment well beyond our fields. And I hope you’ll share your ideas on how we can do that.”