For the last few days, NFL personal and scouts were staked out in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine with their stopwatches and notebooks at the ready. And among those who the were watching happened to be four former Sun Devils.
Offensive lineman Sam Jones, linebacker Christian Sam and running backs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage were all trying to make a name for themselves in Indy last weekend.
Jones had a solid showing in comparison to other offensive linemen. He flashed his strength by bench pressing 225-pounds 28 times, good for sixth among his position group, and tested well for his quickness, too, after finishing seventh in the three-cone drill (7.92 seconds).
Sam Jones, guard from Arizona State/ThunderRidge HS, came in at 6-4 5/8, 305 — 305!!! ASU had him play at 295 last year so 305 was positive weigh-in. He also has 31-inch arms and 76 1-4 wingspan. #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) February 28, 2018
NFL.com grades each prospect that attends the combine and gives a general observation of where they may be early in their NFL career. Jones got a grade of 4.96 and the website said that he should be in an NFL training camp.
Sam had a phenomenal showing at the combine, an effort that could possibly see him move up in the draft. The Pac-12’s leader in tackles from a season ago did more bench press reps (28) than any other linebacker at the combine.
For linebackers, speed and quickness trumps strength and Sam showed that he has both. The linebacker finished eighth among his position in both the 40-yard dash (4.75 seconds) and the three-cone drill (7.02).
#ASU LB Christian Sam runs a 4.76 in his first 40 at the NFL Combine (at 244 lbs). Sam led all LBs at the Combine with 28 bench reps— Brad Denny (@BDenny29) March 4, 2018
Among ASU’s four combine participants, Sam probably has the second-best, if not best draft profile. NFL.com grades him at a 5.60 and says he has the chance to be an NFL starter.
The next Sun Devil, Richard, did not have the best showing, finishing near the bottom half of running backs in most events. The former ASU tailback ran a 4.70-second 40 and finished dead last among running backs in the vertical jump (29.5 inches).
He even voiced his displeasure with his performance on twitter:
The combine was Ballage’s second go-around at trying to preform and impress in front of scouts. In January, he became the talk of the Senior Bowl after showing his athletic freakishness to the masses.
In Indy, Ballage picked up right where he left off. He ran the third fastest 40 among running backs, crossing the line in just 4.46 seconds — just .06 seconds slower than potential No. 1 pick Saquon Barkley.
Kalen Ballage with a 4.46 40. pic.twitter.com/UqQtGHqphI— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) March 2, 2018
The Colorado native also finished tied for fifth in the broad jump after leaping a whopping 122 inches and fifth in the three-cone drill (6.91 seconds).
Ballage’s grade was just below Sam’s at a 5.46, but NFL.com says that the running back can be a NFL backup of special teams contributer.