TEMPE, Ariz. — With nearly every NFL team represented at Arizona State’s pro day Friday, top defensive prospects Will Sutton and Carl Bradford got a second opportunity to impress scouts as they try to raise their stock for the NFL Draft in May.
After doing weight room drills at the NFL Combine last month, Bradford and Sutton opted to skip that portion of the pro day, which was held at Sun Devil Stadium, but both did on-field drills such as the 40-yard dash.
Sutton appeared to be moving well in drills, and according to scouts, he clocked in the 5.2-second range in the 40-yard dash. That was a slight improvement over the 5.36 he registered at the combine.
Sutton, likely to be ASU’s highest pick in the draft, faced questions at the Combine about his weight, which was often blamed for the reduced numbers he posted in his senior season. At least one team Friday asked Sutton about his weight and where he planned to keep it. Sutton did not speak to local reporters after the pro day.
Bradford, too, appeared to improve his stock Friday. After posting a 4.76-second time in the 40 at the Combine, Bradford ran a 4.64 Friday. That matched the third-best 40-yard dash time among linebackers at the Combine.
"I wanted to come out here and prove I’m faster than a 4.75 or whatever I had there," Bradford said. "I (also) wanted to show them I could come here and play everything."
Bradford said teams have talked with him about playing a number of positions, including rush defensive end, sam and will linebacker, defensive tackle on passing downs and even fullback, the position he played in high school.
"They were serious, and they were still asking me today about (fullback)," Bradford said. "I think they wanted me to do some fullback drills."
Bradford said he got good feedback from teams at the Combine and in brief conversations Friday. Teams told him they liked his movement, physical technique and coachable nature.
A lot of guys don’t get this opportunity, so once I get it, I’m grabbing it and going with it. I feel like I made a good choice.
Carl Bradford on leaving ASU to enter the NFL draft
Bradford opted to leave ASU after his junior season, a year in which he led the Sun Devils in tackles for loss and earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 second team. Based on the feedback he is getting and his expectations for the draft, Bradford remains confident he made the right decision leaving early.
"A lot of guys don’t get this opportunity, so once I get it, I’m grabbing it and going with it," Bradford said. "I feel like I made a good choice."
Various draft rankings have Bradford pegged as a potential second-round pick. Bradford will train in Arizona until the draft and said the Cardinals have contacted him about setting up a workout.
ASU’s other marquee player likely to be drafted, running back Marion Grice, came with a much different storyline Friday. After participating only in interviews at the Combine due to the broken fibula suffered in ASU’s Nov. 23 win against UCLA, Grice again did not participate Friday other than in minimal position work.
Grice said he is 100 percent physically and has been for about three weeks but wants to get better conditioned before testing for scouts at his personal pro day at ASU on April 8.
"I’m feeling fine," Grice said. "I just need more time to train and get myself prepared for testing."
Grice said some teams at the combine were confused about his injury, thinking it was an ankle issue. He faced questions about his health, as teams were curious in interviews why he wasn’t participating. Grice admits that he’s a little worried about the decreased exposure resulting from his delayed pro day.
"For the ones that come (April 8), I know I’m just going to give them a great show and put up the numbers," Grice said. "I think about it a lot, pushing it back, because some guys will overlook me. Some guys are sticking in there, and I really appreciate it."
So far, Grice has been projected mostly as a late-round pick. Many of the teams he met with wanted to talk about his route running, demonstrating interest in the versatility that made him so effective at ASU. Teams also discussed his quarterback protection skills, and of course there’s his knack for finding the end zone.
"Pretty much the guys I’ve met with, the head coaches, a lot of them talked about the red zone," Grice said.
Grice said he’s scheduled to attend a workout with the Patriots on March 17 in Tempe but doesn’t think he’ll test then.
— The fastest known 40-yard dash time clocked Friday: cornerback Robert Nelson’s 4.45. Nelson was consistent, too, as he ran a 4.46 on his second attempt. Nelson, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2013, is a long shot to get drafted, but with the kind of speed he’s demonstrated, he shouldn’t have any trouble getting a deal as an undrafted free agent. The aforementiond 40 time would have ranked tied for ninth at the Combine.
— Top performers in the 225-pound bench press: defensive tackle Davon Coleman (35 reps), defensive end Gannon Conway (30), offensive tackle Evan Finkenberg (26). Coleman was one of the standouts on the day and drew attention from scouts after on-field drills. He has a workout set up with the Cowboys in April. Conway, too, appeared to make an impression and met with teams for further testing after the on-field drills.
— Among the top performers in the vertical jump (exact measurements unknown): safety Alden Darby, linebacker Anthony Jones, Nelson and defensive back Marlon Pollard. Jones was another standout on the day due to his athleticism.
— Darby said he’s set to work out with the Patriots in Tempe on March 17 and also has had contact with the Cardinals, Bears and Ravens about setting up workouts. The first-team All-Pac-12 selection is projected in various rankings as a late-round pick.
— Cornerback Osahon Irabor wasn’t happy with his times Friday but was encouraged by what he heard from scouts. Some told him they couldn’t believe he didn’t receive an invitation to the Combine. "That’s a good consolation for not being there," Irabor said.
— Six ASU alums participated in the on-field portion of pro day: receiver Derek Hagan, linebacker Robert James, receiver LeQuan Lewis, safety Ryan McFoy, cornerback Justin Tryon and receiver Mike Willie.