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BYU Pro Day Analysis

29 March 2013 Brett Richins
BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree had a good showing at Pro Day.

BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree had a strong showing at Pro Day. BYU PHOTO

The BYU football program hasn’t produced an NFL draft pick in three years.

That is virtually guaranteed to change in four weeks when the NFL Draft kicks off at Radio City Music Hall in New York. In fact, it’s entirely possible that one Cougar could hear his name called fairly early on day one of the draft.

Of course, just about every college and pro football fan has now heard of Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah and his rise from an unkown, inexperienced player from Ghana to the bright lights of fame and fortune awaiting him in the National Football League.

But while Ziggy garnered much of the attention during BYU’s Pro Day on Thursday, there were 10 other NFL hopefuls with BYU ties attempting to catch the eyes of pro scouts. Of those participating, only Ansah and offensive lineman Braden Brown received invites to the NFL combine last month in Indianapolis, making Thursday a very big day for the rest.

Here’s a look at how each Pro Day participant performed and their prospects come draft day.

Ezekiel Ansah

Ziggy performed well in the field drills that he participated in. He was worked hard–nearly to exhaustion–as a representative from the Oakland Raiders appeared to want to see just what he was made of. Following his on field drills he ended up flat on his back as trainers worked on him, stretching him out.

It was disappointing that Ansah did not participate in any of the testing drills, particularly in the 40-yard dash. Many were hoping to see the 6-6, 270-pound defensive lineman break 4.6 in the forty. However, with his impressive performance at the NFL combine, it made sense for Ziggy to play it conservative in Provo.

Ziggy’s camp has had him focusing on developing his position skills, which will become important to him as he makes the rounds in private team workouts over the coming weeks leading up to the draft. He is considered by many to be a Top 10 pick next month and he didn’t do anything to hurt his status on Thursday. The fact that he has been invited to New York for draft day tells you everything you need to know about how high teams are on the Ghanaian.

Uona Kavienga

Not surprisingly, the powerfully-built Kaveinga showed well in the bench press, putting up 225 pounds an impressive 26 times. That number would have placed him sixth among linebackers at the NFL combine.

What was a surprise is how well he did in the some of the tests designed to measure overall athleticism. Uona recorded a vertical jump of 33.5 inches and recorded a very good time of 4.65 in the 40-yard dash. Those numbers would have placed him fifth in the 40 and seventh in the vertical jump at the combine. Because he goes just 5-foot-11, Kaveinga may still be long shot to be taken on draft day. However, he should get a chance to get into a camp following the draft.

Brandon Ogletree

No former Cougar helped himself more on Pro Day than linebacker Brandon Ogletree, who had a fantastic day in front of dozens of NFL scouts. Most impressive was his 4.61 time in the 40. That time would have place him third among linebackers at the combine and would have tied for first among inside linebackers. His time was huge for a player who has battled the reputation of being an athlete that lacks NFL-caliber speed.

Brandon also recorded a vertical jump of 33 inches and did 24 reps on the bench. Given his outstanding performance and his high-level of productivity during his college career, he may well sneak into the draft as a late round selection. He does have a number of teams that have shown significant interest in the McKinney, Texas native. In fact, he was privately worked out on Wednesday by the Kansas City Chiefs, where former BYU offensive lineman Andy Reid was recently named as the head coach.

Reid has taken a number of chances on BYU players over the years as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Preston Hadley

Hadley was another former BYU player who had a good day and appeared to help himself. After recording solid numbers in the forty (4.53) and the broad jump (10-2), Preston also proceed to post an outstanding time of four seconds flat in 20-yard shuttle. His time in the shuttle would have been good enough for third best at the combine this year.

He also performed well when put through various position drills. Getting drafted will still be a long shot, but he is likely to be signed as a free agent following the draft. He has good size, solid ball skills and may well have been the most underrated player on BYU’s No. 3 defense in 2012.

Braden Brown

After Ansah, Brown is the most viable draft prospect coming out of Provo this year. Braden is a very good athlete who played tight end and defensive end in high school. He improved in nearly every area over his performance at the combine.

He has been working on improving his overall athleticism and he certainly looked athletic out on the field on Thursday. He’s not going to be a first day selection on draft day, but it would be surprise if he were to go undrafted. Most likely, he will fall somewhere between the fifth and seventh rounds.

Braden Hansen

Hansen seemed to be laboring just a bit during his the tests and drills on Thursday. He struggled last season with a groin injury that cost him some games. It’s not clear if he re-aggravated the injury, but for whatever reason, he did not appear to move well. He did come out on top in the bench press however, with an event-best 27 reps.

Because of injuries on the offensive line last year, Braden was moved to center–a turn of events that may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Though he may not be drafted, the fact that he has shown that he can play two positions on the interior of the line may open the door for him as an undrafted free agent. The inside word is that the Dolphins have shown quite a bit of interest in Braden recently.

DeQuan Everett

If players were drafted according to the eye-ball test alone, Everett would be a sure-shot selection in April’s draft. He is a physical specimen and was definitely the workout warrior of the day. After putting up an amazing 25 reps in the bench press, he proceeded to record a broad jump of 11-feet-2. Both numbers would have been tops at the NFL combine this year for cornerbacks. His vertical leap of 37.5 inches would have tied him for sixth.

He also ran 4.57 seconds in the forty, a very respectable time for a player that goes 6-3, 215. Unfortunately, DeQuan never got to show much of his athleticism on the field during his time as a Cougar and never really developed into an on-field contributor on the defense.  As a result he doesn’t have much game film to show scouts. No doubt, he turned some heads on Thursday with his eye-popping numbers, but his lack of production at the college level probably makes him a long shot to be invited to an NFL camp. Perhaps he may find a team that will give him a try at safety.

Romney Fuga

Fuga was the lynchpin of BYU’s No. 3 defense in 2012, holding down the middle of Bronco Mendenhall’s 3-4 defense. Romney did 26 reps on in the bench press and ran a 5.1 forty. His time was pretty impressive for a guy that goes 320 pounds, while his bench numbers would have put him in the middle of the pack for defensive linemen at the combine.

Romney is probably the third most likely BYU player to be drafted this year and could go in one of the later rounds. His options may be somewhat limited, depending on if teams see him as a guy who could play defensive tackle in the 4-3, or solely as a two-gap nose tackle in the 3-4.

Whether he is drafted or not, there is little doubt that he will get his chance to make a roster somewhere in the league.

Joe Sampson

Sampson was invited to participate in BYU’s Pro Day despite being suspended from the team and being dismissed from school during last football season. He has been working out in Salt Lake City the past few weeks and turned in a nice overall performance.

He ran an impressive 4.53 forty time and had a vertical jump of 36 inches, second only behind Everett. He won’t be drafted, but he could catch on somewhere in free agency as a nickle back, a position that he excelled at while at BYU. Joe is strong, an underrated athlete and a good tackler in space.

Special Teams

Neither punter Riley Stephenson, nor long snapper Reed Hornung will hear their names called on draft day, but both are decent bets to be on an NFL roster when the 2013 season kicks off.

Stephenson was phenomenal last season, not only punting well for average, but consistently pinning teams deep in their own territory. His ability in that area could make him very valuable at the next level.

Hornung may have an even better chance of catching on in the NFL. Reed is considered to not only be a strong snapper, he was regarded as perhaps the best snapper in coverage in the entire NCAA the past couple of seasons. He has had a private workout with the Chiefs and Reid, which, according to his camp, went very well.

Both had an opportunity to show their wares on Thursday.

No Shows

Ian Dulan and Russell Tialavea were expected to work out, but did not. Tialavea was present in the Indoor Practice Facility, but was in a walking boot. Dulan battled a back injury that sidelined him for his entire senior season at BYU. It was also announced that former Cougar O’Neill Chambers would test as well, but he did not show for the event. Chambers is reportedly finishing up his degree at BYU after playing at Division II Nebraska, Kearney last season.

Ziggy Ansah answers questions from the media following Pro Day. BYU PHOTO

Ziggy Ansah answers questions from the media following Pro Day. BYU PHOTO


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