As soon as we walked into the Simpson Athletic Center to watch the Baylor Pro Day attendees' weight room workout, we realized early that we weren't in Kansas any more, proverbially speaking. This was Pro Day with a side of swagger. Okay, it was like more like swagger decided to have a Pro Day. Let me explain.
There were only 12 players at pro day and only seven Bears that played for the team in 2014 on hand. A couple of others, former running back Glasco Martin and former corner KJ Morton, returned to work out as well as Bears that transferred away from the program - tight end Jeff LePak and corner Tyler Stepehnson. I'll come back to the small attendance in a bit, but if you had any question which guys were working out - just shut the lights off. The day glo, highlighter yellow Baylor Pro Day shirts stood out, not surprisingly.
I mentioned earlier that when we walked in the weight room, it was a different scene, to say the least. Now, having spent many hours in there, it's expected that players encourage one another. So, as we walked in, players and non-scout observers were screaming and cheering at the top of their lungs for one of their comrades to put up one more rep on the bench press.
It was actually, well, yeah, I'll say it, cool.
When each guy walked up, the Baylor strength coach announced each player as if he was a king in medieval times. When each player finished, former teammates clapped and cheered and created a pleasant ruckus for 17 or 21 or 18 reps. That vibe carried over to the on field workout.
As we walked over in the rain to the Allison Indoor Facility, it didn't take long to know this was going to be a different day. Wiz Khalifa music on the speakers. Frenetic Baylor staff members all over the place. Energy, to the level of ten.
Honestly, it was the epitome of Baylor head coach Art Briles. The Bears' head coach has always marched to the beat of his own drum and his program is the perfect embodiment of his fierce independence. He's always let his players be themselves and figure out what gets them to their own max performance.
But, the most impressive aspect to me was how much each guy in that building cared for his teammate. Alums and players consistently cheered and encouraged teammates in every single drill over the two and a half hour workout. In his media session after his workout, quarterback Bryce Petty noted that Briles' consistently preaches family and that's made a difference in this program. I pick up things like that when I'm in a football building but it was worth mentioning.
Cyril Richardson, RG III (Robert Griffin) and Kendall Wright were just three of the former NFL playing Bears in attendance, but there were dozens of current players on hand to watch the festivities as well.
Petty, though, was the guy most scouts, I imagine, came to see. He stood on his numbers at the combine, so he just went through his arduous passing workout, led by his coach George Whitfield.
Petty threw it well. He led well. He threw with touch. He threw with velocity. His feet were much quicker under center than at the Senior Bowl. He was comfortable. He threw a couple of bad balls, one deep ball to WR Levi Norwood fluttered. Okay, it was a duck. But, all in all, he threw it so effortlessly, on point and accurately.
Afterward, I polled a few of the scouts on hand and the consensus was that he had solid 3rd round value. Most importantly, though, the guys I talked to said there's a bunch to like with Petty and he can eventually be a starting QB in the NFL. The more I watch, the more I'm convinced of this fact.
But, I've seen QBs sling the rock before and throw it well. That said, what stood out to me today was, for lack of a better term, everything else. I saw a guy that could most definitely be the face of a franchise and thrive in that role.
Petty talked with the media for about 12 minutes and answered every single question thrown his way, some even two and three times. He had them eating out of his hand. He hugged and thanked all his receivers. He shook hands with every kid that wanted to meet him.
After 95% of the people had left and a handful waited around well after the workout was over, a father asked Petty if he could take a picture with his son. Petty then treated that young man like he was the only person in the building. He got him to pose for pictures that the son will value forever. Put it this way, Petty gets it. Totally gets it.
Prior to his passing workout, Petty gathered up the scouts in attendance, introduced all of his receivers and running backs and thanked them for being there. Head coach Art Briles did the same. I liked that for some reason.
Oh, and before I leave the QB topic altogether, the Whitfield broom has a new friend - the bean bag. I'd explain but it'll just take too much time. But, just know that the Whitfield bag of tricks has no end.
One of the biggest surprises, so to speak, was hybrid LB/S Colin Brence. The former walk-on earned a starting spot as a senior at the team's "bear" position and followed that up with a strong work out on Pro Day. I know he had a strong broad jump but didn't hear his number. But, I saw and heard his 37" vertical leap. I timed him at 4.59 in the 40.
He looked fluid in his turn and go/break-on-the-ball drills as the defensive players worked with a 49ers scout. I'm not sure at all where he'd play but with so much nickel/dime/sub package being played in the League, he could be a factor as a subpackage linebacker and special teams demon.
Bryce Hager rested on all of his combine measurements which was expected. He only did positional drills. He's listed at 6'2" in the program, but he was no taller than I was (and I'm 6'). He can move but he's a little stiff in his turn and go movements. All in all, he's an option at each linebacker spot and will run down on special teams throughout his career.
Antwan Goodley rested on his numbers at the Combine, with the exception of his vertical and COD shuttle drills. He went 34" in the vertical and right at 7 in the 3-cone drill. I've said for months that his hands are inconsistent at best. He'll fight the routine catch but snag one flying over his head with one paw. As such, his concentration can wane. That said, he caught it well on Wednesday throughout the day. He went down for a low Petty throw and made a catch on a deep dig. He drew cheers from the crowd on hand a number of different times then celebrated with a Vitek's BBQ lunch with his family and agent.
Speaking of Vitek's BBQ...the Gut Pak is ridiculous. Think Frito Pie with brisket and sausage instead of chili. Ohhhhhh so good. The only downside is that I felt like I cheated on ribs and pulled pork by neglecting them. We'll just have to make a return trip next year.
While there were 27 teams in attendance, no coaches or GMs were present. That will change next year. I've always got an eye on future draft classes and Baylor has at least two senior linemen that should garner day one/day two attention next year - DE Shawn Oakman and LT Spencer Drango - not to mention DT Beau Blackshear.
Furthermore, there will also be a number of draft eligible prospects that could make next year's Pro Day awfully interesting (DT Andrew Billings, RB Shock Linwood first come to mind).
Texans analyst and radio sideline reporter John Harris unveiled his top 100 prospects for the NFL Draft. (Photos courtesy of AP)