Reps from 24 NFL teams to attend pro day of Baylor hoops star

UPDATE: Former Baylor basketball player Rico Gathers measured 6-foot-6 and 273 pounds at his pro day on Monday. He was clocked between 4.75 and 4.85 seconds in the 40-yard dash by scouts in attendance. He had a 9-7 broad jump and a short shuttle of 4.56 seconds. A 40 time of 4.75 seconds would've placed seventh among tight ends who ran the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

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For nearly all 32 NFL teams, preparations for the 2016 NFL Draft (April 28-30) are mostly over. They'll spend the next few days going over mock drafts and scenarios to make sure they are ready for what happens when the draft begins Thursday, but the scouting reports have been long prepared.

With at least one exception.

Twenty-four teams will send representatives to the Saints' facility on Monday to witness the pro day for former Baylor basketball player Rico Gathers, one the more intriguing prospects of the year. The list of attendees includes several offensive coordinators, a handful of tight end coaches, executives and many scouts.

The All-Big 12 star and rebounding machine made the decision two months ago to enter the NFL draft and, thanks in part to another weak tight end class, teams see opportunity and value in the 6-foot-6, 273-pound former middle-school receiver, who focused on hoops through high school and college.

He'll do a full NFL Scouting Combine workout for teams on Monday -- measurements, vertical and broad jumps, the 40-yard-dash, shuttles and position drills. He showed up to his training facility at 285 pounds, but has lost 10 pounds or so in three weeks, and teams are excited to see him perform.

"He's ready, raw, a blank canvas," his trainer, Mack Chuilli of Traction Sports Performance in Baton Rouge, La., told on Monday. "I think he has the ability to be a star player just because of his size and his skill set. He's a freak with how big he is and how much muscle he carries. He can run, jump, he's strong, and he catches it with his hands. Soft hands."

Baylor coach Art Briles tried to get him to play football at Baylor in his final season of college eligibility. But Gathers chose the pro route and has spent the last three weeks in a training crash course.

Gathers might go undrafted. He might be picked in the seventh round, or possibly the sixth round. But the glimmer of hope that he could follow in the footsteps of Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas or Antonio Gates -- former hardwood-turned-gridiron stars at tight end -- has teams watching. There simply haven't been many of these guys. A team might have to wait for him to develop, stashing Gathers on the roster for a year before he's ready to play. But there is potential, which Chuilli and company have helped him find.

NFL free-agent QB Matt Flynn has thrown to him, former safety Ryan Clark has helped with technique and tight ends coach Art Valero has showed him how to run routes and honed league-specific skills.

Of course, Gathers is a little behind most prospects. Few learn how to get in and out of breaks for the first time after college.

But when Cowboys tight ends coach Mike Pope worked him out recently, he left pleased. Members of the Lions staff ate dinner with Gathers last night. There are plenty of teams with more than a passing interest.

"What I was most impressed with is the natural ability," Chuilli said.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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