Several former Syracuse Orange football players participated in the school's Pro Day Wednesday in an attempt to convince members of the 22 NFL teams in attendance that they have the ability to perform at the next level and are worth a selection in next month's NFL Draft.
The participants included: Ron Thompson (DE), Riley Dixon (P), Terrel Hunt (QB), Julian Whigham (DB), Rob Trudo (OL), Oliver Vigille (LB) and Ivan Foy (OL).
Out of the seven former Orange football players who participated in Syracuse's Pro Day, only Thompson and Dixon are projected to have a chance at being drafted–not surprisingly, as those were also the only two former Syracuse players to be invited to last month's NFL Scouting Combine.
Here are the most interesting tidbits that came out of Syracuse's Pro Day.
Thompson Improves On Scouting Combine Numbers;
After posting a disappointing 4.92 second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Thompson reportedly shaved at least one-tenth of a second off his time. Will Hicks, the Syracuse assistant athletic director for athletic performance, told the media that Thompson improved his time into the high 4.7-low 4.8 second range.
It was imperative that Thompson improve on his 40-yard dash time, and other events, as his previous scores were sub par, to say the least.
Thompson's original 4.92 second 40-yard dash time at the Scouting Combine ranked as the 23rd-fastest time by participating defensive lineman. To put that in perspective, Oklahoma's Charles Tapper ran the fastest time at 4.52 seconds.
In addition to his 40-yard dash time, Thompson reportedly improved his score in the three-cone drill as well. Thompson clocked in at 7.46 seconds at the Scouting Combine last month, 26th-best time from a defensive lineman.
Terrel Hunt Back In Action
The former flashy dual-threat Syracuse quarterback who went from savior to injury-plagued cast-off after back-to-back season-ending injuries to finish his collegiate career threw 35 passes in front of scouts. Hunt, who had his 2014 season cut short due to a fractured fibula and missed all of last season as a result of a torn Achilles tendon, performed multiple drop back passes and rollouts Wednesday.
Three former teammates of Hunt came back to Syracuse to catch passes from him: Jarrod West, Ashton Broyld and Quinta Funderburk.
Hunt already has one workout scheduled with the New York Giants for April 8. The Giants plan to have Hunt throw and catch passes during the workout. Hicks said a handful of NFL teams inquired about Hunt possibly switching to tight end, and while Hunt told Syracuse.com's Stephen Bailey he prefers to remain a quarterback, he also said he's willing to do whatever it takes to play at the next level–including switching positions, if necessary.
"I definitely want to be a quarterback, that's not doubt," Hunt said. "But if they want me to be a tight end or wherever they need me, I'll excel at that. I just want to get a foot in the door."
While Whigham isn't projected to be taken in next month's NFL Draft, he certainly didn't hurt his chances by posting impressive numbers across the board. The former Syracuse defensive back shared his productive results on Twitter.
To seek success is the most righteous revenge.— Julian Whigham (@JulianWhigham) March 23, 2016
While Whigham wasn't invited to the combine, his numbers would have placed him among the most athletic defensive backs in attendance. Whigham's 4.45 second 40-yard dash would have ranked ninth, 37 inch vertical tied for eighth, and 138 inch broad jump fourth. The only event Whigham didn't perform well in was the bench press. His nine reps would have been the 29th-best score out of participating defensive backs.
Position Switch for Thompson?
Hunt isn't the only former Syracuse player contemplating switching positions. While Thompson found his most success as a 4-3 defensive end while in college, it appears that some NFL scouts and coaches don't envision him as such. Various NFL teams view Thompson more as a 3-4 outside linebacker, or even as a tight end – a position Thompson hasn't played since high school – Hicks said.
In light of the tight end questions, Thompson told Syracuse.com's Nate Mink he's open to the move.
"I said I'll do it," Thompson said. "It doesn't matter to me. Whichever one will get me paid, whichever one will get me to the next level, I'll be willing to do it.
It would explain why Thompson decided to catch passes from Hunt towards the end of the Pro Day.
Thompson said it was a little different running routes and catching passes on the offensive side of the ball, rather than rush the quarterback. However, after a few attempts, he said he's confident he could succeed in such a role.
"It was new," said Thompson. "I haven't done it in three years, but once I caught the first one I said 'Yeah, I can get back in the groove again.'"
Yeah, Okay...BUT WHAT ABOUT RILEY DIXON?!
No, Riley Dixon didn't run the 40-yard dash (mainly because his sub-4.20 second time would have sent NFL scouts into the hospital with unimaginable comas due to their amazement), but he did in fact workout for New York Jets' special teams coach Brant Boyer, according to the Daily Orange.
Dixon reportedly also has a private workout with the Denver Broncos scheduled for Thursday, and has one scheduled with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the near future. The Houston Texans had a private workout scheduled with Dixon for later this month, but cancelled (you are now no longer allowed to root for the Houston Texans).
While NFL representatives have asked both Hunt and Thompson to consider switching positions, there are STILL no reports of teams inquiring about Dixon switching to running back. In case any NFL scouts are reading this, let me remind you about the legend that is Riley Dixon–number 92 in your programs, number one in your hearts.