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Regional Combine: Several pro prospects worthy of attention

  • By Lance Zierlein Special to NFL.com
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HOUSTON -- "Eat! Go get some money! Eat!"

That refrain (and numerous variations) were heard during drills throughout Saturday's Regional Combine in Houston as participants in each position group encouraged other participants who were there chasing their dreams of playing in the NFL.

Regional Combines are open to all players who are eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft but were not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, as well as players eligible for previous drafts who have never signed an NFL contract and players who have played professionally in some capacity but have been out of action for a period of time.

Here are noteworthy players and performances from Saturday.

(Editor's note: The position represents the group the prospect tried out with, and the date in parenthesis indicates the year the player was initially draft eligible.)

DEFENSE


CB Boubacar Cissoko, Michigan (2013)

Height/weight: 5-foot-8, 189 pounds
Vertical: 35 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 11 inches
40-yard dash: 4.84 seconds

Cissoko was the 44th rated player in the country in 2008 and signed with Michigan but was eventually kicked off the team for legal troubles and imprisoned in 2010 for theft and attempted armed robbery. Cissoko was hoping to show that he still had something to offer NFL teams. A slow 40 time and inability to change directions with any explosiveness will likely end his chances if character concerns already hadn't.

CB Michael Ray Garvin, Florida State (2009)

Height/weight: 5-7 1/2, 176
Vertical: 38 inches
40-yard dash: 4.41 seconds

Garvin was a kick-return specialist and cornerback with the Seminoles and was an accomplished sprinter on the track team. Garvin showed he still possessed terrific speed and was very fluid in his backpedal and then exploded forward towards the ball.

S Devon Simmons, Old Dominion (2013)

Height/weight: 6-1, 199
Vertical: 42 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, 10 inches
40-yard dash: 4.6 seconds

Simmons had one of the best tryouts of the day on the defensive side. While I expected Simmons to run faster than 4.6, his explosive traits were on full display with an outstanding vertical leap and broad jump. Equally impressive was Simmons' ability to transition and change direction around the field while also tracking deep balls and finishing with catches.

ILB Darius Taylor, Sam Houston State (2013)

Height/weight: 5-11, 245
Vertical: 34.5 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 8 inches
40-yard dash: 4.89 seconds

Taylor was a first-team All-Southland Conference inside linebacker as a senior. Taylor is short for the ILB spot and his 40 time won't get anyone excited, but he was one of my favorite defensive players to watch. Taylor has a solidly built frame and looked athletic and confident in all drill work and showed terrific hands, as well.

DT Jamarkus McFarland, Oklahoma (2013)

Height/weight: 6-1 1/2, 306
40-yard dash: 5.29 seconds

McFarland was a heralded recruit coming out of high school and signed with Oklahoma in 2009, but he failed to live up to the hype and landed in San Diego with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent before being cut. McFarland didn't look like he was in great football shape, and he clearly needs weight work. However, he was easily the best-looking defensive linemen in the group when it came to the drill work.

OFFENSE


WR Shjuan Richardson, Emporia State (2013)

Height/weight: 5-8 1/2, 178
Vertical: 32 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 9 inches
40-yard dash: 4.4 seconds

Richardson qualified for the Super Regional Combine last year, and I'm expecting him to do so again this year. He ran a fast 40, had good acceleration out of his breaks and did a decent job of catching the ball, but his lack of explosive vertical and broad jump combined with his lack of height will hurt him with NFL teams.

WR Brelan Chancellor, North Texas (2014)

Height/weight: 5-8, 188
Vertical: 39.5 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 9 inches
40-yard dash: 4.66 seconds

Chancellor was productive in college and was named the Conference USA Special-Teams Player of the Year last year. Chancellor had kick-return TDs of 99, 93 and 73 yards, and he showed an ability to run excellent routes with ideal smoothness throughout. Chancellor has a good shot at making it into a camp, but teams will be bothered by his pedestrian 40 time.

WR Damond Berry, Central Missouri (2009)

Height/weight: 5-11, 208
Vertical: 32.5 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 11 inches
40-yard dash: 4.56 seconds

Very impressive afternoon for Berry. Berry has good size and he tested OK, but what caught my eye all afternoon was his drill work. Berry was able to gear down quickly and get out of his breaks with quickness and he ran excellent routes. It also helped that Berry caught just about everything thrown at him.

WR Jacarri Jackson, Louisiana Tech (2014)

Height/weight: 6-1, 195
Vertical: 43.5 inches
40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds

Jackson pulled a muscle during the testing phase and wasn't able to work out, but I promise you that his measurables will have scouts' attention. With an explosive vertical jump, 34-inch arms, good size and a fast 40, teams will be cross-checking him on tape fairly soon.

WR D.J. Monroe, Texas (2013)

Height/weight: 6-1, 183
Vertical: 31 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 7 inches
40-yard dash: 4.6 seconds

I was shocked at how low Monroe's measurables were, so I went back and looked at last year's pro day results. Last year Monroe was eight pounds lighter, had a 36-inch vertical, a 9-foot, 11-inch broad jump and ran a 4.39 40. What a difference a year makes.

RB Torrance Hunt, Georgia Southern (2014)

Height/weight: 5-6 1/2, 177
Vertical: 44 inches
Broad jump: 11 feet
40-yard dash: 4.37 seconds

Hunt was the star of the afternoon session as it pertains to measurables. With a blazing 40 and explosive numbers in the vertical and broad jumps that every first-round prospect would love to have, Hunt is the classic example of why these Regional Combines are in place. He had issues with body control during drills as he didn't know when to gear it down, but he looked comfortable out of the backfield as a pass catcher. Hunt spent time at East Carolina and played in three games at Georgia Southern before being suspended for the year. Hunt is more of a speed merchant than a running back at this stage, but his numbers should get him into a camp for a look.

RB Akeem Shavers, Purdue (2013)

Height/weight: 5-9 1/2, 196
Vertical: 38.5 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, 4 inches
40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds

Shavers has a muscular frame and showed good burst and change of direction. It also helped that Shavers caught the ball well out of the backfield. He's on the NFL border from a size standpoint, but those testing numbers will help him.

TE David Lewis, Southern Illinois (2013)

Height/weight: 6-3 1/2, 236 lbs
Vertical: 33 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 11 inches
40-yard dash: 4.76 seconds

Lewis was the only tight end who caught my eye during the workouts, but then again, is he really a tight end? Lewis is trying to convert from wide receiver to a tight end, so I would really like to see him attempt to block at some point. Lewis did show a second gear when the ball was in the air and he caught the ball well, but as a former wideout, that should be expected.

SPECIAL TEAMS


K Kevin Van Voris, West Texas A&M (2014)

Height/weight: 5-11, 245

Van Voris was an All-American kicker in college and he was blasting the ball all workout long. All of his three kickoffs had a hang time of over 4.0 seconds and all of them went into the end zone. Van Voris followed that up with consecutive makes from 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60 yards. Van Voris' brother, David, also had an excellent workout and made all of his field goals other than the 60-yarder, when he came up short.

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