How did Tennessee's prospects preform at Pro Day?
Tennessee hosted its 2018 Pro Day on Monday, with a total of 22 former Vols participating in front of 31 of 32 NFL teams, scouts, coaches and GMs.
John Kelly, Kahlil McKenzie and Rashaan Gaulden — three players who opted to skip their senior seasons for the NFL Draft — headlined the event, but notables to workout Monday also included Evan Berry, Brett Kendrick, Kendal Vickers, Ethan Wolf and Jashon Robertson.
Tennessee did not provide times or numbers. Monday's event certainly lacked the star power from last year, when Derek Barnett, Alvin Kamara, Josh Dobbs and Josh Malone all garnered serious NFL interest. One NFL scout deemed this year's crop of prospects "a bit underwhelming."
Here’s a recap of notes and quotes from a slew of participants.
*** After electing not to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February, Tennessee tailback John Kelly did run twice Monday. Weighing in at 209 pounds, Kelly clocked a 4.65 unofficial time on his first attempt, per the video board.
Kelly then dramatically improved that time on his second attempt with a 4.5 time. One NFL scout told VolQuest that Kelly was hand-timed at 4.65 and 4.60, though.
Asked about his time, Kelly laughed and said, “I don’t know. I’m glad it’s over though."
Kelly kept most of his other numbers from the combine, but the junior did look sharp in the on-field drills. Afterwards, he spent a lot of time chatting with reps from the Bears, Colts, Lions, Texas, Titans and Jaguars. Kelly said many teams have asked him “character questions,” specifically citing his arrest from the fall.
“I think everything went pretty well. I got a chance to go out and show some of my quickness and hands,” he said.
“When they turn on that film, that’s the football player that they want to see.”
*** Former 5-star recruit Kahlil McKenzie kept his 40, vertical jump and bench press from the combine, but he did participate in the 3-cone, shuttle and field drills Monday, with the 312 pound defensive lineman showcasing his agility and quickness in several areas.
Interestingly, with his dad — Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie — in attendance, a few teams, including the Colts, asked McKenzie to some some OL drills, too.
McKenzie, who had not done a single OL drill since high school, obliged.
“I told them, it’s good with me. That’s the first time I’ve been asked to do any OL stuff,” McKenzie said. “At the combine it was strictly DL drills, but I’ll do whatever a team asks.”
McKenzie said he opted to go pro based on advice from several close confidants including his father and his uncle. He was coy on which teams were currently interested, but said he has several visits and workouts lined up.
*** Defensive back Rashaan Gaulden showed up to Tennessee’s Pro Day a bit lighter than his time at the combine, weighing in at 191 pounds Monday. Gaulden chose not to bench press after repping 225 pounds just seven times in Indy.
The 6-1 junior defensive back did run one 40-yard dash Monday, clocking in an unofficial time at 4.68. One NFL scout did tell VolQuest he had Gaulden at a 4.59.
Lining up at multiple spots in 2017, Gaulden was Tennessee’s top defensive player and now NFL scouts are looking to capitalize on his versatility. Gaulden did field drills at both corner and safety Monday. The Carolina Panthers spent a lot of time around and with Gaulden on Monday.
“Any team that drafts me I’m going to check off all the boxes,” Gaulden said. “I’m very versatile. I’m willing to play anything any team asks me to play. … Teams think my footwork is smooth.”
Gaulden did say teams have asked him about his viral gesture at Alabama.
*** With his brother Eric Berry in attendance, former All-American kick returner Evan Berry worked out as a wide receiver Monday at Pro Day.
“I played offense in high school and I’m just ready to get back to it. It feels natural to me,” he said. “I caught a couple balls. Everything felt good. … I feel really comfortable with the ball in my hands.”
Berry wasn’t overly smooth early on in WR drills, but he finished the session with a couple nice over-the-shoulder grabs on deep throws.
Berry had a broad jump of 10-3. He didn’t know his 40 time. He believes he’s a 4.4 guy, though.
Berry said he’s completely healthy after being hampered by a knee injury and a broken hand in 2017, limiting him to just one game last season. He mentioned San Francisco as a team that’s indicated early interest.
Berry’s brother Elliott worked out with the DBs on Monday, hoping to make it in the NFL as a strong safety. Elliott clocked one unofficial 40 time of 4.62.
*** Kendal Vickers said he was disappointed not to get invited to the NFL Combine, but Tennessee’s Iron Man defensive lineman had a very productive Pro Day. He weighed in at 290 pounds and ran a 5.01 and 4.99 40-yard dash.
Vickers said teams are intrigued by his versatility and ability to play as a 2,3 or 5-technique. He has visits set with Broncos, Giants and others.
*** Senior offensive lineman Brett Kendrick was pleased overall with his performance Monday.
After battling a couple illnesses training in Cincinnati, Kendrick showed up to Pro Day at 304 pounds, losing 25 pounds of fat and gaining 10 pounds of muscle in three months of work.
He benched 225 pounds 25 times and had a vertical jump of 30 inches. Kendrick is set to train with former Titans OL Zach Piller and has visits scheduled with the Colts, Titans and 49ers.
*** Tight end Ethan Wolf was unsure about his 40 time but believed his overall showing Monday was solid. The senior tight end felt like he showcased his ability as a receiver and in-line blocker.
Wolf said teams are curious about his straight-line speed due to “lacking that on film because I wasn’t used that way.”
He has visits upcoming with the Bills, Jags and Titans.
*** Other news and notes … Cornerback Justin Martin had an unofficial 40 times of 4.5. Cornerback Shaq Wiggins was clocked at 4.67. … At 235 pounds, linebacker Colton Jumper likely helped himself for a camp invite Monday, with a 9-9 broad jump and a 40-time around 4.65. Jumper said he was running in the high 4.5s in training. …
Similarly, corner Emmanuel Moseley had a strong showing in both the drills and field work. … Senior wideout Josh Smith had the highlight of Pro Day, making a diving, one-handed catch on an errant long pass during the route-tree. …
Senior center Jashon Robertson weighed in at 292 pounds and spent time with reps from the Falcons and Broncos. … Punter Trevor Daniel joked that he was “quite happy” with his NFL Combine performance where he ran a 4.9, had a 33-inch vert and had 23 reps at 225.
“There was 100 scouts and coaches there and they looked surprised when I got off the bench,” Daniel said, smiling. “The numbers don’t mean anything honestly. I just did it to do it. The (scouts) will even tell you they don’t really care that I got 23 reps on the bench. That doesn’t matter. They just want you to kick good.”