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ASU Football: Pro day notebook

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How did the Sun Devils fare under the pressure of scouts at ASU Friday

Jaelen Strong taking part in the ASU pro day
Jaelen Strong taking part in the ASU pro day
Nick Krueger/ House of Sparky

ASU held its annual pro day Friday morning in Tempe. Festivities began in the weight room with measurements, bench press, broad jump and vertical leap. The on-field drills then took place inside the Verde Dickey Dome across Rural Rd. at the practice facility. All 32 teams had NFL Scouts in attendance. Media, family and agents were also allowed to watch as numerous Sun Devils tried to show that they belong in the NFL.

Here's the latest from the players who have the best chance of getting drafted in 2015:

Jaelen Strong

Friday measurements: 6-foot-2 and 5/8, 219 pounds (Up 2 pounds from the NFL Combine)

Strong didn't do any weight room activities but opted to participate in the 20-yard shuttle (4.19 seconds), L-cone drill (7.33 seconds) and also caught passes from Taylor Kelly. He was not pleased with his own results in the cone drills but added he only did it to show he's a competitor. He understandably decided not to run the 40-yard dash, content with 4.44 time from the NFL combine.

"My film says it all," Strong said. "The biggest thing for me was speed. Everybody had me going second or third round. I knew what I was going to go out and do at the combine and I was confident the whole time."

Strong wanted to showcase his route running ability and that he could get out of breaks well. His strength lies in his catch radius and physicality. He'll continue to train and take visits with teams up until the draft and added he won't be disappointed just as long as he gets drafted. Depending on who you talk to, Strong is either a first or second round choice with some scouts seeing issues with in his hip movement or not playing up to his size.

"It’s just a blessing to get drafted. There are people out there still fighting to get into the NFL so to get drafted period is a blessing," Strong said. "I remember when I was just a kid watching Vince Young, watching Reggie Bush. It’s a big thing for me to actually hear my name called, to see it pop up on the screen, I might even shed a tear."

Jamil Douglas

Friday measurements: 6-foot-4 3/8, 309 pounds (up 5 pounds from the NFL Combine)

Douglas came into Friday wanting to further showcase his versatility and athleticism. While he projects to a guard in the NFL, he still wanted to show he could play tackle as well.

"They (NFL teams) want a guy that's versatile so being a guy who can play both positions is only going to help me out even more," Douglas said. "I think I showed coaches that I'm a strong guy, an explosive guy that can play at all different positions on the offensive line."

He participated in the short shuttle (4.58 seconds) and L-cone drill (7.73 seconds) Friday and was pleased with those times. The 4.5 range for an offensive lineman in the short shuttle is impressive. He also added that he wants to be up closer to 315 pounds even though he played closer to 300 at ASU in a faster system under Mike Norvell. According to him, he has five visits currently set up and named the Bengals, Cardinals and Lions among those teams.

At the moment, he's not too worried about what the NFL Draft might hold.

"The draft is its own animal," Douglas said. "I don't pay attention to mock drafts and things like that. I feel like I've put myself in the best position possible and the tape is already out. I think I've put enough good things on tape against quality opponents. We'll see come draft day."

Damarious Randall

Friday measurements: 5-foot-10 and 5/8, 198 pounds (Up 2 pounds from the NFL Combine)

A huge positive for Randall is that the 2015 safety class for the NFL Draft is extremely weak. His stock grew leading up to and immediately after the combine do to his versatility as a corner or safety, which is what he wants to play. He jumped a 35-inch vertical, which was three inches lower than the combine. While he was hearing sixth round draft choice before, he's now hearing he could go as high as the second round.

"That's just something I take with a grain of salt," Randall said. ""Whichever team is smart enough to take me as high as they can that's fine with me."

Randall said some see him as the No. 2 safety in the draft. The 198-pound mark is the heaviest he has ever been, but said he could still function well up to 205 pounds if he still needs to put muscle on his frame. Randall mentioned he has 11 team visits lined up and named the Seahawks, Patriots, Buccaneers, Jaguars and Panthers as just a few. At this point, Randall shouldn't drop further than the fourth round.

"I think the film speaks for itself," Randall said. "I'm a guy that likes to blitz off the edge a little bit, cover a guy in the slot and that can make a lot of plays."

Marcus Hardison

Friday measurements: 6-foot-3 and 1/4, 305 pounds (Down 2 pounds from the NFL Combine)

Hardison helped his draft stock tremendously on Friday. He only bench pressed at the combine and while he had seen his stock rise because of his film, he hadn't performed the big drills in front of scouts yet which he did Friday. He clocked a 4.8-second 40-yard dash, a 25.5-inch vertical jump and an 8-foot-11 broad jump and also did positional defensive lineman workouts for scouts. He showcased quickness and an agility in the three-cone and positional workouts that is rarely seen in a defensive lineman.

Although he was consistently a defensive end at ASU, the Senior Bowl coaches moved him inside to a three technique where a lot of scouts took notice of his athletic ability. It makes him extremely attractive to a team that runs a 4-3 scheme and is looking for an interior lineman with solid pass rushing and pass blocking ability.

"That's what makes me a good pick because I'm versatile," Hardison said.  "I'd rather play a 3-tech because at the next level I feel like that's something I can excel at."

He admitted he was a little lazy after the Sun Bowl and put a few pounds on and would like to get back in the 290-pound range. While he has been getting in shape for the drills as of late, his focus is now shifting back to football. He isn't that concerned about the draft.

"I don't really pay attention to be honest with you," Hardison said. "It only takes one team to like me."

Taylor Kelly

Friday measurements: 6-foot-2, 202 pounds

The likelihood of Kelly getting drafted is very slim. He could, however, end up in a training camp somewhere and battle for the third spot on a quarterback depth chart. Kelly ran a 40-time somewhere in the 4.5-4.6 range and his vertical jump was 31 inches Friday. He accomplished what he set out to do and hit his goals.

"It was a great experience," Kelly said. "I just had to keep reminding myself it's the game of football and they're just watching you throw the football."

Kelly's agility and quickness in the L-cone drill was impressive. He also made most of the throws he wanted to make when targeting receivers but did miss a few on slow releases. He hit most of his intermediate routes but missed on some deep balls.

Kelly mentioned he has been working with trainers over the past eight weeks to improve his throwing mechanics. He was simply lifting the ball to throw previously but is now dropping it down more to try and make a full circle throwing motion to get more velocity on his throws.

"I have been working on my arm strength," Kelly said. "I feel so much better than I did at the end of the season."

Additional notes

  • Manny Wilkins, Brady White, Demario Richard, Mike Bercovici, Jordan Simone and Kalen Ballage were just a few of the current Sun Devils there to support their former teammates. Former Sun Devil Davon Coleman was also in attendance. Most of the coaching staff also watched the proceedings.
  • Other notable Sun Devils who participated and are trying to land spots on NFL teams: Tyler Sulka, Kyle Middlebrooks, De'Marieya Nelson, Kevin Ozier, Darwin Rogers, Paul Crawford, Deantre Lewis