Four former Tennessee Vols participated in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium. Quarterback Tyler Bray, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver Justin Hunter and tight end Mychal Rivera all worked to improve their draft status in front of NFL coaches, scouts, and general mangers. A fifth former Tennessee player, offensive lineman Dallas Thomas, also attended but did not participate in the drills due to a shoulder injury he sustained in January at the Senior Bowl.
Here is a recap of how these players performed:
QB - Tyler Bray
Bray was one of the few quarterbacks who volunteered to throw every day at the NFL Combine in addition to the normal quarterback drills.
“I'm just trying to show my mechanics," Bray said on why he elected to throw at the combine. "I kind of lacked mechanics during the season. I'm just trying to come out here and prove that I have the footwork and arm strength.”
Many television analysts noticed his superior arm strength and throwing ability. Former NFL scout Bucky Brooks called Bray “unbelievable," and said on Twitter he was “killing it (with) his deep throws.”
Bray ran a 5.05 40-yard dash, the third slowest among the 13 quarterbacks who ran. Although he ranked among the slowest quarterbacks, it should not hurt his draft stock because he was not expected to run below a 5.0.
He also put on 24 pounds to his previously slim 6-foot-6 frame since the end of the season. Bray weighed in at 232 lbs.
Bray also addressed his off-the-field issues.
“I made the mistakes, I knew it was coming," Bray said. "They grilled me. I tried to stay calm and try to answer the best I could and just took ownership for it. It was my fault. Just took ownership and I think they respected that.”
WR - Cordarrelle Patterson
Patterson came in to the NFL Combine as the top-rated wide receiver on many draft boards. He only needed to confirm what scouts had been seeing on tape and he did just that.
“I know what I can do so I'm just going to go in and give it my all,” he said.
Patterson's measurables were impressive. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash (6th among WRs), which is all the more impressive for someone who is 6-foot-2, 216-pounds. He also tied for fifth in the vertical leap at 37 inches.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN's draft expert, called Patterson a "freak athlete" with great size and leaping ability. s
WR - Justin Hunter
Justin Hunter’s results at the NFL Combine suggest he is arguably the most athletic wide receiver in the draft. He garnered a great deal of attention this weekend with his performance in the measurable workouts.
He measured 6-foot-4”, 196 pounds, one of the tallest wide outs there. He was in the top ten in 40-yard dash times at 4.44 seconds, but he really shined in the jumping workouts.
Hunter was tied at the top with former Volunteer Da’Rick Rogers and Virginia Tech receiver Marcus Davis with a 39.5 inch vertical leap. Hunter separated himself from the rest of the receivers with a 11.4 inch broad jump, tied for the third highest broad jump ever, beating Olympic long jumper Marquise Goodwin by four inches, and highest since 2005 (however, Southern Mississippi OLB Jamie Collins set the all-time record the next day at 11.7 inches).
Hunter was a former track star in high school, where he set a Virginia state record in the long jump.
One of the biggest questions surrounding Hunter is the health of his knee, after tearing his ACL in September 2011.
“Everyone says it’s great,” Hunter said.
Hunter is also accused of only being a deep threat receiver. He addressed the criticism.
“I don't want to be just that," Hunter said. "I want to be a complete receiver. I can run short short routes, take a big hit when I need to, or go across the middle.”
TE - Mychal Rivera
Rivera is not rated very highly in this year’s draft class according to the experts, but he came to the NFL Combine hoping to change that.
Rivera talked in length about his goals for the weekend.
“I want to run really well in all my drills," he said. "I want to bench well. I want to continue to show I can catch the ball. I've got real big hands, and I love to go up and snag the ball.”
At 6-foot-3 and 242 pounds, Rivera is not one of the bigger tight ends. He ran a 4.81 40-yard dash, which ranked 10th of the 15 tight ends to run.
He also tied for 10th in the bench press with 17 reps and the broad jump at 9.4 inches. He was tied for 11th in the vertical leap at 31 inches.
Rivera probably did not do enough to raise his stock in this year’s draft. He placed in the bottom half in all of the major work outs, and did not stick out in the tight end positional drills.
OL - Dallas Thomas
Thomas did not compete in any workouts at the NFL Combine due to a shoulder injury, but he did measure 6-foot-5, 306 pounds, which is excellent size for an offensive lineman.
Thomas played left tackle for his first three years at Tennessee, but switched to left guard to make room for Antonio Richardson.
Thomas performed very well in his senior season, which in addition to his good play in his first three years, led him to become a highly rated player in the draft. He is projected by many to be a late first round to second round pick.