Former WSU defensive lineman Xavier Cooper almost certainly put to rest any fears that he could go unselected in the 2015 NFL Draft when he performed incredibly well at the NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday.
Cooper, who measured in at 6-foot-3 and 293 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.86 seconds, fastest among players who project as primarily a defensive tackle. For context, here's a look at the guys who finished around Cooper:
|Mario Edwards Jr.||Florida State||6-3||279||4.84|
|Xavier Cooper||Washington State||6-3||293||4.86|
|Lynden Trail||Norfolk State||6-7||269||4.91|
As you can see, one of these things is not like the other, so while 40 times aren't the end-all-be-all of scouting, when a big man does something out of the ordinary with his athleticism, teams tend to sit up and take notice. The 40 also included a reported 1.70 10-yard split, which would also be excellent for a defensive tackle, particularly to back up the video for a player such as Cooper, whose strength is his ability to explode off the ball and penetrate.
Additionally, Cooper performed well in agility drills, posting the sixth-best time in the 3-cone drill (7.23 seconds) and ninth in the 20-yard shuttle (4.37 seconds) -- only Louis Trinca-Pasat of Iowa posted a better time as a defensive tackle in the shuttle -- and he also finished ninth in the bench press with 29 reps. He performed toward the middle of the back in the broad jump (110 inches) and was near the bottom in vertical leap (29 inches).
Meanwhile, former WSU wide receiver Vince Mayle had a bit of a ho-hum day on Saturday in his drills. His 40 time of 4.67 seconds probably was about a tenth of a second slower than he was hoping to show. However, his agility drills were solid, as he finished 14th in the 3-cone drill (6.93 seconds) and ninth in the 20-yard shuttle (4.13 seconds). The "big" receivers ahead of him the agility drills are the guys projected to go in the first couple of rounds including Amari Cooper, Sammie Coates and Dorial Green-Beckham; he was solidly in the range of the second tier of big guys. Mayle's vertical jump of 35.5 inches was middle of the pack, while his broad jump of 117 inches was near the bottom of the wide outs.
The third WSU participant in the combine was Connor Halliday, who is still recovering from the broken leg suffered near the end of the season and was unable to work out. However, he was able to get some face time with clubs and show them what he can do with his brain, which figures to be one of his strengths, given how much responsibility is placed on an Air Raid quarterback to read defenses.
The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta caught up with Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com to see what he thought of Halliday's prospects:
[Rang] said Halliday’s draft status rests largely in how comfortable teams get with his health.
"If teams get a clean medical on him and feel like he’s not going to have any lingering issues with it, then I think he is absolutely a draftable prospect,’’ said Rang, whose site rates Halliday as the No. 9 quarterback available.
Halliday told Condotta that his goal is to be healthy enough to participate fully in WSU's pro day on March 12.