For Arizona State coach Todd Graham, the opportunity to see his players matriculate into the NFL is rare. In Graham's eight seasons as a head coach, only two of his players have been selected in the NFL Draft.
In 2011, Graham protege Charles Clay was drafted in the 6th round by the Miami Dolphins after competing under Graham at Tulsa. In 2008, fellow Tulsa product Chris Chamberlain was a 7th round selection by the St. Louis Rams.
Aside from Clay and Chamberlain, many have tried but few have succeeded in parlaying their college success into NFL contracts. Even Brandon Magee, Arizona State's top linebacker during his Graham's first season in the desert, was forced to take the route of undrafted free agent to make playing professional football a reality.
This offseason, Graham's resume is due for an update. For what was likely the first time in his coaching career, three of his players were invited to participate in the NFL Combine which is a showcase for the NFL's top prospects. 335 players drew an invite to the NFL Combine, among them Sun Devils Will Sutton, Carl Bradford and Marion Grice.
Much of the media attention focused on the combine revolves around sure-fire first round draft picks, so the three Sun Devils weren't exactly the most talked about athletes in attendance. In fact, Marion Grice, the Sun Devils' starting running back in 2013, didn't participate in the 40-yard dash and does not have results listed on the NFL Combine's web tracker for other drills.
Grice is considered by many scouts to be a sleeper pick out of this year's draft, which is loaded with quality running backs, many who left school early to pursue their NFL dreams. While Grice appears to have sat out in order to continue healing from an injury suffered back in November, he did record measurements.
Grice measured at 6-feet and 208 pounds, with a 32-inch arm length and 9 1/4-inch hands. Grice can help his draft stock immensely by performing at Arizona State's Pro Day on March 7, and putting up numbers in running drills that are comparable to what backs ran in Indianapolis over the weekend.
As for Sutton and Bradford, they both participated in combine drills and each of the Sun Devil defenders faced similar criticisms. Sutton and Bradford are considered relatively small for their NFL positions, and both had arm lengths measuring below average for their spots.
Sutton stood 6-feet tall and weighed in at 303 pounds, which is below his playing weight from the 2013 season. The All-American defensive tackle has 10-inch hands, but his arm length is just 31 1/4-inches. Defensive tackles need long arms to create separation and shed the blocks of offensive linemen, and higher-rated prospects like Timmy Jernigan and Aaron Donald posted arm length measurements above 32 1/2-inches.
Bradford also came in with a shorter arm length than many of his fellow linebackers, as the former Devilbacker's arms measured just 30 1/4-inches. In comparison, fellow Pac-12 pass rush specialist Anthony Barr impressed with an arm length of 33 1/2-inches which should keep his stock high.
After leaving school with a year of eligibility remaining, Bradford measured 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds with 9 1/2-inch hands.
A duo that put up similar sack totals during their careers at Arizona State, Sutton and Bradford also put up similar numbers on the bench press at the NFL Combine. Sutton posted 24 reps at the 225-pound weight while Bradford fell a one short of his teammate's total with 23 reps.
Bradford's mark of 23 was tied for 11th at the linebacker position with fellow prospects like USC's Devon Kennard and Buffalo's Khalil Mack.
We will continue to update the results of Sutton, Bradford, and Grice as they become available and House of Sparky plans on having full coverage of Arizona State's Pro Day on March 7.