Former Pitt players meet NFL scouts, coaches at pro day
Aaron Donald said he doesn't know if he will get invited to the NFL Draft on May 8 when he is expected to be among the first defensive players selected.
But just like all other times in his life, he won't be caught unprepared.
“I got a couple of suits ready,” he said.
Donald concluded the formal part of his draft preparations Monday when he joined nine of his former Pitt teammates at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex in a workout session for NFL scouts. Twenty-eight teams were represented, including coaches Bill O'Brien of the Houston Texans and Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Donald, who ran a 4.68-second 40-yard dash and lifted 225 pounds 35 times Feb. 24 at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, said he believed he had little to prove after dominant efforts during the season for Pitt and in the Senior Bowl. Chances are he might not have matched his combine efforts Monday and only managed to raise questions before the draft.
“I retired my ‘40' cleats,” he said. “I know what I did. I was happy with my time.”
Donald, though, said he is unsatisfied and will remain that way until he retires.
“Right now, I have a lot of work to do,” he said.
Donald, who said he gained 2 pounds to 287 since the combine, has spoken with most NFL teams in the past two months, including the Bengals, who gave him five words to remember at the start of the interview and asked him to repeat them at the end.
“I got three out of five,” he said.
Former Pitt wide receiver Devin Street said he was asked how many uses he could find for a paper clip in a minute (seven) and whether he would rather be a cat or a dog (he chose dog because, he said, it's more aggressive).
“They want to know what's upstairs,” Street said.
Street said he improved from the combine in two important drills, the 40 and the 3-cone shuttle.
“A lot of teams had me at 4.46, in between 4.46 and 4.50,” he said after running a 4.55 40 last week.
He said his shuttle time went from 6.89 to 6.65 seconds, something that indicates how quickly he can get in and out of breaks.
“It's all about the progressions,” he said. “I don't want to be second best. Now, everyone is working for checks. The ante is higher.”
Other Pitt seniors who worked out Monday were quarterback Tom Savage, linebacker Shane Gordon, defensive tackle Ty Ezell, cornerback K'Waun Williams, linebacker Emanuel Rackard, wide receiver Ed Tinker, safety Jason Hendricks and punter Matt Yoklic.
Ezell measured in at 6-foot-3, 310 pounds, and he recorded 22 lifts.
“I feel like I'm pretty marketable already,” said Ezell, a Steel Valley graduate. “I just have to work on my pass rush and get stronger.”
Ezell said he has a Plan B if he can't secure an NFL contract: professional wrestling. He already has chosen a persona.
“I want to be a bad guy,” he said. “It's more fun. You get to do whatever you want and say whatever you want.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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