Pro Day workouts are important for every aspiring NFL prospect but they are absolutely critical for those who went uninvited to last month’s Scouting Combine.
Middle Tennessee State cornerback Jeremy Cutrer is a perfect example.
In front of a crowd of scouts that included three general managers — Bob Quinn of the Detroit Lions, Jerry Reese of the New York Giants and Tennessee’s Jon Robinson, as well as Titans’ head coach Mike Mularkey — Cutrer stole the spotlight from two prospects from Tennessee State who were invited to the Combine, guard Jessamen Dunker and fellow cornerback Ezra Robinson.
Officially listed by Middle Tennessee State at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds. Cutrer looked “noticeably thicker in his upper body than on tape” and was clocked at 4.52 seconds in the 40-yard dash with a 10-2 broad jump and 32-inch vertical jump, according to a source on the scene. Cutrer’s agility and closing speed were apparent during positional drills.
Scouts did not question the raw athleticism of the two-time All-Conference USA pick. Cutrer’s intriguing combination of length, closing speed, ball skills and anticipation stood out on tape against Alabama and Missouri over the past two seasons, among other games. He was invited to the East-West Shrine Game following his senior season but was unable to participate due to a foot injury. Cutrer may have been a victim of the numbers crunch as the 2017 cornerback crop is incredibly deep.
Cutrer was named a First Team All-Conference USA pick last season after recording 64 tackles and leading the Blue Raiders with 10 passes broken up and three interceptions. A year earlier, Cutrer was honored with Second Team accolades in his first season on campus, as the Mississippi Gulf Coast transfer broke up 13 passes (intercepting three more) and recorded 31 tackles over just nine starts. He is currently listed projected as a fifth-round value and the No. 22 cornerback by NFLDraftScout.com.
Cutrer need not look far for an example of a Combine snub earning an NFL draft pick.
His former teammate, safety Kevin Byard, earned the first pick of the third round (No. 64 overall) last year from Robinson and the Titans after a similarly productive college career, eye-popping Pro Day workout and Combine snub.
Some questioned if a lack of speed was the reason why Byard, a four-time all-conference pick, was able to record 19 interceptions over his career. The 5-11, 212 pounder erased any doubts about his explosiveness at MTSU’s workout last year, however, clocking in at 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash, as well as registering a 38-inch vertical jump and 22 repetitions of 225 pounds. Byard played in all 16 games for the Titans as a rookie (starting seven times), recording 58 tackles and four passes broken up.
Wednesday’s workout, which Byard attended, as well, was held inside at the Tennessee State campus due to inclement weather in the region.
Other notable results from the Middle Tennessee State/Tennessee State Pro Day:
OG Jessamen Dunker, Tennessee State: Dunker, a Florida transfer and Senior Bowl participant, stood on his Combine numbers, which included a 4.98 second time in the 40-yard dash, 28.5-inch vertical and nine-foot broad jump. He was put through positional drills by Russ Grimm, the Titans’ offensive line coach.
CB Ezra Robinson, Tennessee State: Robinson is a Michigan State transfer and also participated in both the Senior Bowl and Combine. The 5-foot-11, 189 pound Robinson also elected to stand on his Combine results, which included a 4.47-second time in the 40-yard dash, a 34-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 10-8.
The workout took place earlier in the week on the other side of the country but insiders are still buzzing about the performance that another Combine snub cornerback, Xavier Coleman, put on in front of 15 teams on Wednesday.
The 5-foot-11, 189 pound Coleman — a third team All-American pick in 2016 — put forth the type of all-around performance that will almost surely get him high priority free agent looks, if not drafted outright. He was clocked between 4.46-4.52 on two attempts at the 40-yard dash and had a 40-inch vertical and 10-5-inch broad jump. Coleman also was clocked at 6.81 seconds in the 3-cone drill, 4.13 in the short shuttle, 11.40 in the long shuttle and recorded 17 repetitions on the bench press.
Coleman, a two-time team captain, leaves the Vikings with 35 starts in his career, totaling 152 tackles, 32 pass breakups and nine interceptions. He is hoping to follow in the footsteps of former Portland State standouts currently in the NFL like Miami Dolphins tight end Julius Thomas and Seattle Seahawks cornerback DeShawn Shead.