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13 Nittany Lions To Highlight Annual Pro Day

Each year, NFL scouts travel to college campuses across the country to attend pro days with the hopes of further evaluating the talent of this year’s draft hopefuls. Pro days work much differently than the NFL Scouting Combine, as they provide a player with the comfort of familiar surroundings, coaches, and players to work with. This is especially important for quarterbacks and receivers, because as opposed to the combine, quarterbacks can throw to accustomed receivers, instead of working with an unfamiliar player. Penn State hosts its annual pro day on Wednesday, an event that will serve as an important evaluation period for a handful of Penn State NFL prospects that didn’t get a chance to prove their worth in Indianapolis.

Here’s three pressing questions in advance of Wednesday’s workouts.

Can Deion Barnes Impress Scouts Despite His Combine Snub?

Image: Zach Berger
Image: Zach Berger/Onward State

Deion Barnes was one of the notable names left off the list of over 300 players that received an invite to Indianapolis, meaning today’s pro day becomes his only real chance to impress scouts in person. Barnes, who left Penn State with one year of eligibility remaining, will need to post some impressive numbers if he wants to see his name climb up an already stocked list of prospective defensive ends. For an edge rusher like Barnes, a solid 40-yard dash time would do nothing but wonders for his stock. But the real intrigue comes with the agility-based drills. Will he display fluid hips? Will he seem stagnant or stiff? Barnes has a perfect opportunity to bolster his stock, and in a class loaded with top talent and big names, he’s going to need to make the most out of every second.

Will Miles Dieffenbach Calm Concerns About His Injured Knee? 


Prior to suffering a major knee injury in the preseason, Miles Dieffenbach’s NFL stock was on the rise. After spending the majority of his senior season rehabbing and working his way back onto the field, he has plenty of work ahead of him in regards to proving his NFL worth. There’s no doubt he can play — his presence was immediately felt on Penn State’s offensive line following his return to the lineup — but he’ll have to impress scouts to show that he hasn’t lost a step. Agility drills will be of utmost importance for Dieffenbach, as they’ll give him a chance to show off his athleticism and prove to scouts that he can move just as fluidly as he could prior to injury. Dieffenbach did not have the luxury of performing at the combine, meaning he’ll be greatly pressured to perform well.

Can Jesse James Improve His 40 Time?

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James impressed scouts with his performance in the leaping drills, displaying good burst and cementing his status as a red-zone threat. If James can improve upon his 40-yard dash time of 4.83, something tells me he’ll see a dramatic increase in his overall stock. NFL teams love a good pass-catching tight end with NBA power forward size — think Jimmy Graham — and James is just that. He’s a towering player that defensive coordinators hate game planning around. He’ll seem even more enticing if he can knock a few ticks off his overall time.

The event will commence at noon, with participants beginning with weight room testing in the Lasch Football Building, followed by individual workouts at Holuba Hall.

The full list of participants includes:

  • Adrian Amos
  • Deion Barnes
  • Brad Bars
  • Bill Belton
  • Miles Dieffenbach
  • Sam Ficken
  • Mike Hull
  • Jesse James
  • Matt Lehman
  • C.J. Olaniyan
  • Donovan Smith
  • Tyrone Smith
  • Zach Zwinak

We’ll provide updates on each player at the end of the session, so be sure to stay tuned.

About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]


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