Auburn’s Dee Ford gets his day before NFL scouts
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Greg Robinson and Tre Mason let their NFL combine numbers stand at Auburn’s pro day. Dee Ford had to work out.
The defensive end, whose stock has risen since the season, wasn’t medically cleared to participate at the combine because of a previous back surgery.
Ford ran the 40 in 4.53 seconds and bench-pressed 225 pounds 29 times at pro day on Tuesday before representatives from all 32 NFL teams.
He tried to make up for the surprise news at the combine.
“I had no clue that I wouldn’t be able (to participate),” Ford said. “It kind of knocked off my training a little bit, because everything is timed when you’re training. I got over the hump. I actually worked out that night when I found out I couldn’t work out at the combine and was able to put up some decent numbers (Tuesday).”
The 6-foot-2, 244-pound Ford had back surgery in 2011 and said he’s been examined by all 32 NFL teams and his health isn’t an issue. He worked on unfamiliar drills requiring him to drop back as a linebacker, where he could wind up playing for some teams.
“That’s something that’s foreign to me, that I didn’t do much in college,” Ford said. “It’s nothing that I can’t do.”
Ford is regarded as a potential first-round pick after turning heads with his performance at the Senior Bowl.
His numbers compared favorably to other defensive ends and linebacker prospects from the combine, including potential No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney.
Ford matched Clowney for the fast 40 among defensive ends and was tied for third on the bench press.
His bench would have led linebackers while his 40 time and broad jump (10 foot, 4 inches) would both have put him in the top four. Ford’s biggest regret was that he fell just short of 30 bench press repetitions. He screamed at the end and then jokingly asked reporters to turn off their cameras.
“I was very upset,” Ford said. “I hope y’all bleeped out what I said.”
Robinson, meanwhile, is projected as one of the top-five picks and potentially challenging Clowney and others for the Houston Texans’ No. 1 overall selection. He said he’s trying not to let such pre-draft talk stress him out, but he isn’t downplaying the significance to him.
“I think it would matter to anybody,” Robinson said. “Just as high as I can go. That’s my goal. I gave it my all. The No. 1 pick, hopefully they’ll take me. I always want the best for myself and I feel I worked for it. Wherever I go, that’s where I’ll go.”
He was mostly a spectator at pro day, but said NFL scouts wanted to see him work out of the three-point stance since he spent so much time as a run blocker for the nation’s top rushing team.
Robinson is scheduled to work out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday.
Mason also participated only in position drills. He figures to be one of the first running backs picked, as a second- or third-rounder.
He had indicated he wasn’t satisfied with his 4.50 40 at the combine, but opted not to run it again.
“Of course I wanted to,” Mason said. “I’m a competitor. I like to come out and compete and when I see other guys competing, I feel like I need to be in that circuit. But today I came out there to do positional drills and show how well I can catch the ball out of the backfield.”
The 5-foot-9, 205-pounder does defend himself as a pass blocker, where he’s drawn some criticism from NFL draft pundits.
“I feel like I shouldn’t be criticized for it,” Mason said. “I haven’t given up many sacks at all the last two years that I played, really. I feel like that’s a strength of mine, but people knock me on that because of my size, because I’m short. But I feel like you don’t block the hole height-wise, you block it with how much heart you have.”
Fifteen players worked out at pro day, including fullback Jay Prosch and cornerback Chris Davis.