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Penn State Pro Day: James, Amos Shine In Front Of NFL Scouts

The Lasch Football Building was buzzing Thursday as scouts and coaches from 30 NFL teams came to evaluate Penn State’s group of 13 NFL Draft hopefuls during its annual Pro Day. The day began in the team’s weight room with weigh-ins and height measurements, followed by bench press testing. James Franklin, assistant coaches, and teammates surrounded the benches, shouting encouragement as the Nittany Lions posted their efforts. The action then shifted over to the team’s indoor facility at Holuba Hall for a slew agility test, including the ever-popular 40-yard dash. Results from the Pro Day are unofficial, as scouts withheld from releasing players’ times, but unofficial recordings of the times were clocked.

Before we go into the results, let’s answer our three burning questions we asked prior to the Pro Day.

Can Deion Barnes Impress Scouts Despite His Combine Snub? 

Out of all the Pro Day participants, defensive end Deion Barnes needed the biggest performance heading into a draft full of talented end prospects. After failing to receive an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine, yesterday served as his only opportunity to impress scouts with his athleticism. Barnes measured in at 6-foot-4, 257 pounds — admirable measurements for a pass-rushing specialist. Barnes then turned some heads on the bench press, knocking out 31 reps as he blew away the rest of the group. His stellar bench figure would have ranked fourth best amongst defensive line prospects at the combine, certainly helping Barnes’ cause. Barnes’ official 40 time was unknown, but I clocked him at 4.75 seconds — not a spectacular figure, but it certainly could have been worse.

Barnes also touched on his decision to leave school with a year of eligibility remaining, and said that he simply felt it was time to go.

“I felt like I was physically and mentally ready, you know, I just felt like it was that time,” he said after his workout. “I talked with my family, I talked with everybody that’s close to me, and it just felt like everybody was telling me, ‘You’ve done enough, it’s your time.'”

Barnes has all the tools necessary to be an effective pass rusher at the next level, and his willingness to play wherever coaches want to play him should attract the services of end-needy teams around the league. Even though Barnes didn’t blow the roof off with his times, his outstanding bench total and otherwise solid performance will most likely have him drafted on day three.

Will Miles Dieffenbach Calm Concerns About His Injured Knee? 

The answer to this question is easily yes. Dieffenbach moved fluidly, displaying no signs of any injury as he went about the drills. Like Barnes, he needed a solid showing at the Pro Day if he was to impact his draft stock whatsoever. Although he didn’t blow anybody away by posting 24 reps on the bench, Dieffenbach showed up in the most important drills, clocking solid times and proving his worth to team representatives in attendance. He noted that teams see him as either a guard or a center, and that he feels comfortable playing there at the next level.

“I felt great. The knee feels great, ankle feels great, and I had an awesome time training for this,” he said. “I really wanted to make sure I performed well in offensive line positional work, which is really the most important thing you’re going to see. The 40 doesn’t really show that much for an offensive lineman. In positional work, you want to come in and show good balance, movement, and power.”

Can Jesse James Improve His 40 Time? 

You bet he did, and in a big way too.

James, who ran a rather slow 4.83 at the combine, knocked some serious time off his 40 at the pro day, clocking in around the 4.6-4.65 range. Aside from that, James displayed soft hands catching passes and running routes, helping to bolster his overall draft stock in the process. There are plenty of teams in need of a serviceable tight end, and Jesse James is certainly proving that he could be the man for the job.

Pro Day MVP 

The player who stood out amongst the rest was hands down safety Adrian Amos after a stellar performance all across the board. Amos began the day weighing in at 215 — optimal size for a free safety — and followed up with a strong 21-rep performance on the bench. Amos refrained from benching in Indianapolis due to a lingering injury. On the turf, he blazed through the 40-yard dash, posting an unofficial 4.38. Amos seemed fluid in agility drills, and really laid it all on the line. His athleticism, coupled with his versatility in the secondary, should really bolster his stock moving closer to April’s draft.

Unofficial 40 Times:

  • Adrian Amos: 4.38
  • Bill Belton: 4.53
  • Mike Hull: 4.63
  • Jesse James: 4.6
  • C.J. Olaniyan: 4.66
  • Matt Lehman: 4.7

Bench Press Results: 

  • Adrian Amos: 21
  • Deion Barnes: 31
  • Brad Bars: 26
  • Bill Belton: 15
  • Miles Dieffenbach: 24
  • Matt Lehman: 21
  • C.J. Olaniyan: 22
  • Tyrone Smith: 22

The 2015 NFL Draft begins on Thurs. April 30.

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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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