Saints Draft

New Orleans Saints Draft: Lack Of NFL Scouts At Florida A&M Yesterday Was Disconcerting

deanmullen
HOUSTON - FEBRUARY 6: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the Super Bowl MVP trophy presentation in Houston on Feb. 6, 2017. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, not pictured, was awarded it the day before the Patriots won Super Bowl LI in overtime. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
HOUSTON - FEBRUARY 6: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the Super Bowl MVP trophy presentation in Houston on Feb. 6, 2017. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, not pictured, was awarded it the day before the Patriots won Super Bowl LI in overtime. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) /
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Florida A&M’s Pro Day was yesterday. I was present, but there was very little presence there from the NFL.

Admittedly, there was more than a temptation to skip Pro Day at Florida A&M on March 28th. Knowing that there was no opportunity to hit the usual two in one day, made me think long and hard to breaking my promise. However, the university was more than happy to have me present at Pro Day. The friendly voice on the telephone gave me the gumption to leave New Orleans around 5:30 a.m.

Six hours later, just in time my car pulled up to the Fieldhouse near the stadium. Be that as it may, there was an expectation to see just as many scouts that were present at Grambling the week before. However, there was a number of huge Pro Days yesterday at Texas, Florida, and Florida St. just to name a few. The thought was that there would be a lower number for sure. But nothing prepared me for the low numbers.

There was the normal adrenaline building going into another new university. This time around, there was one player that was gonna be worth it to see up close. Safety Jacques Bryant, who wants to be called “Jake” put on a show for sure. Bryant ran an unofficial 4.42 in the 40-yard dash with family, players, and a few scouts watching intently.

In addition, Linebacker Curtis Alexander also performed at a high level as well. The full results were not available as of this writing, but when they get released you’ll see them. Of course, the young men that were out there sweating and grinding were supposed to be the story but it wasn’t.

Not knowing anyone was not abnormal, as this was my first visit to the university. Still, there was man in a work shirt out there staring intensely at the drills going on. The man happened to be a family member of one of the players out there. Perhaps it was intuition, but there seemed to be a feeling that his presence there was more than just being a casual fan.

Shaking hands and introducing myself as a writer seem to make him a little happier until he asked “Where are the scouts?” Caught up in the world of just writing my own story, the fact that there was little scout presence was simply a disservice to the men that were out there. The guys came out and performed. One player ran the cone drills with a pulled hamstring, knowing that this may be his only shot at catching someone’s eye.

The fact that he finished the drills astonished me. Presumably, this was late in the afternoon. The player simply did his job and finished because of his competitive nature which was even more admirable.

My story had just changed. After almost four hours in the Florida heat, I talked to one of the fathers there. The gentleman had many questions about how the process works. Being that this was only my second year covering the NFL Draft, the process was still not fully clear to me. Especially, the ones that don’t get drafted.

Moreover, there were other alumni there wondering the same thing. Another older gentleman came up to me and introduced himself. He played for FAMU when Robert Lee “Bullet Bob” Hayes was playing. His name escapes me but his fire was till there. At 77 years old, the man said he could run with anyone except Bob Hayes. Hayes was only the second gold medalist to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio since Jim Thorpe. Thorpe was inducted in 1963.

All in all, the experience was extremely positive. The campus at Florida A&M was much bigger than I thought. The people were very friendly and the players were as professional as any of the players that I’ve interviewed at The Senior Bowl. Someone needs to make sure that this lack of presence doesn’t happen again. There has to be a way to have at least have 20% of the NFL represented.

It’s unfair to these young men to not even to be present at Florida A&M, when Florida St. was just a mile away. The Seminoles had their Pro Day earlier in the morning. Florida St. obviously will have more guys that will go to the NFL for sure but don’t sleep on the smaller schools like the MEAC and others. Names like Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, John Stallworth, and Ed “Too Tall” Jones may ring a bell. These are just a few that have come from the MEAC and other small schools.

In conclusion, the NFL should be in communication with these smaller schools. It’s hard enough making it into the NFL. It’s even harder when no one is taking notes. Hopefully, the word will get out that there is talent this year at Florida A&M.  If not a draft pick, a few camp candidates deserve at least the time to be scouted appropriately.

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