By Jeffrey Swindoll
Baylor football’s presence at the NFL Combine consistently sees widespread improvement from year to year.
Last weekend, six Baylor players participated in the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis,— safety Ahmad Dixon, running back Lache Seastrunk, tight end Jordan Najvar, cornerback Demetri Goodson, offensive guard Cyril Richardson and wide receiver Tevin Reese.
Baylor football’s combine class served as proof that assistant athletic director for athletic performance Kaz Kazadi’s strength training and conditioning program at Baylor is producing exceptional results.
The six players participated in drills to highlight pure athleticism, and the Bears throughout one of the NFL’s most rigorous tests before the draft.
Starting with the offensive players, Seastrunk came into the season with expectations of winning the Heisman.
He did not win the prestigious award, after going through some injury issues in the middle of the season, but Seastrunk showed just his unique blend of speed and strength to the NFL scouts.
“I set a goal in my head to run below a 4.3, and that’s my goal to keep striving for,” Seastrunk told Fox Sports 1 before the running the 40. “I know I can do it. It’s within reach.”
The transfer from Oregon had his expectations set high but fell short of the goal he set for himself. Seastrunk clocked in at 4.51 in the 40-yard dash. A disappointing time for Seastrunk personally, but he showed his athleticism in a number of other events at the combine.
Posting the best vertical jump among running backs at 41.5 inches and a broad jump of 134 inches, Seastrunk can walk away with his head held high as one of the overall best running back prospects for NFL scouts.
Reese followed suit after Seastrunk. He did not have the most impressive 40-yard time, 4.46 seconds, when considering all the other receivers’ times, but Reese dominated in the other drills just as Seastrunk did.
In the vertical jump, broad jump and three-cone drill, Reese posted the best times and distances among the wide receivers. Reese and Seastrunk were the most notable standouts at the combine.
Najvar perhaps needed the combine more than any other offensive player from Baylor. He played in an offense that did not use tight ends for more than blocking on the majority of the snaps.
Baylor’s offense is wide and quick with four to five receivers on nearly every down.
Therefore, Najvar needed to be firing on all cylinders for the NFL scouts last weekend to prove just how capable he is of doing both primary responsibilities of a tight end— blocking and catching.
Najvar recorded 18 bench press reps of 225 pounds and 4.96 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Najvar earned the top times among tight ends in two drills. Najvar ran the three-cone-drill at 7.14 seconds. Najvar also earned the fastest time in the 60-yard shuttle at 12.02 seconds.
The athletic ability of all these Baylor players came to the forefront at the combine, and Najvar’s three-cone-drill time showed the athleticism did not just apply to the receivers and running backs from Baylor.
“There are a couple of things that I will test again and improve on at my pro day,” Najvar told Corey Brewer from The Pewter Plank website. “It was important to me to do every event the combine offered, because it would show me the areas I need to improve on.”
The combine can serve as a measuring stick for NFL hopefuls like Najvar. Najvar trained in Dallas at the Michael Johnson Performance facility before the combine, and will continue to train to put himself in the best position to be drafted. Experts project Najvar to be selected in the seventh round of the draft or to sign with a team as an undrafted free agent.
Unlike any of the previous three athletes, Dixon did not post the top performance in any events at the combine.
Analysts think Dixon is physically qualified to compete in the NFL. Analysts acknowledge his ability to get involved in plays and impact football games. He was one of Baylor’s defensive lightning rods for the past four years.
“Dixon possesses the physical talent to compete in the NFL and even earn a starting job eventually if he can stay focused, commit to a playbook and hone his eyes,” NFL.com analyst Nolan Nawrocki said.
Richardson and Goodson’s combine performances received mediocre ratings from NFL.com. Both earned ratings between 5.2 and 5.6 on a 10.00 scale. They were given above average chances of making an NFL roster.
Baylor’s star power showed up at the combine. Seastrunk and Reese turned heads with high-level performances .
Baylor’s pro day is March 19 at the Jay and Jenny Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility. All Baylor players seeking to play professional football will participate.