Marquise Goodwin hoped to set the record straight once and for all on Tuesday: he’s not a track guy masquerading as a football player.
Mission accomplished, he thinks.
The Longhorns wide receiver believed he successfully demonstrated his football skills to 50 NFL scouts and team officials, representing all but two of the league’s 32 franchises, during Texas’ pro day. And Goodwin’s two other highly ranked teammates, safety Kenny Vaccaro and defensive end Alex Okafor, also thought they did what was necessary to sell themselves to possible future employers.
Goodwin, Okafor and Vaccaro were among 14 Longhorns auditioning before NFL personnel, which included Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. Among those working out was former Texas quarterback Vince Young, who participated in the throwing drills in hopes of catching on with a team.
Goodwin, who weighed in at 177 pounds on a 5-foot-9-inch frame, was one of several receivers running routes for Young. He thought that, as well as his showing in various drills, helped alleviate the questions about him.
“I’m not a track guy trying to play football. I am a football player. Hopefully people recognize that by now,” said Goodwin, a long jumper on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.
“I showed I’m pretty versatile, that I can run routes, get out of my breaks really well and, most importantly, that I can catch the ball,” he added. “They already knew I can run. I just had to show them what they came here to see. I think I showed them everything they were looking for.”
Veteran NFL personnel man Gil Brandt, now with NFL.com, saw what he wanted to see.
“I thought Goodwin made himself some money today,” Brandt said. “I thought he caught the ball really well.”
Vaccaro and Okafor, both recovered from minor hip injuries, also felt they answered questions.
Vaccaro tweaked his hip last week before a personal workout for the Dallas Cowboys, who hold the No. 18 overall pick. But with several former Longhorns defensive backs now in the NFL looking on Tuesday, he was happy with how he handled DB-specific drills.
“I think a lot of the things I did today, you can see on tape — covering slots, coming out of my breaks, opening my hips,” said Vaccaro, expected to be Texas’ first first-round pick since safety Earl Thomas — an onlooker Tuesday — was picked by Seattle in 2010. “All that stuff I have on tape, so I think this just backdoors it and reassures the teams.”
Vaccaro ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash at last month’s NFL Combine and had hoped to improve his time Tuesday, but he didn’t run because of his hip. He measured in at 6 feet, 217 pounds.
“I know how fast I am,” said Vaccaro, who said he is consistently timed in the high 4.4s and low 4.5s at 40 yards.
Brandt thinks he’s fast enough.
“I like Vaccaro a lot. I know he’s not the fastest guy in the world, but No. 4 makes plays,” he said. “His thing is, he knows how to play the game. I think you can take a guy that doesn’t run 4.4, but runs 4.6 and knows how to play the game, and he’s still going to make plays.”
Okafor has healed from a hip injury that occurred at the Senior Bowl in late January and limited him to the bench press at the combine. Checking in at 6-4½ and 262 pounds, Okafor’s strength is his versatility to play either end or tackle in a 4-3 defense — he did both in his UT career. He’s also attempting to demonstrate he can play outside linebacker in a 3-4, something he thought he showed Tuesday during various drop-back drills.
“Guys want to see if I can be a 3-4 backer. I want to show I can play that position,” he said. “I’m confident in my athletic ability and I think I can make that switch if I need to. They are looking at me all across the line of scrimmage. I’ve put a lot of things on tape that I’m proud of. It shows my versatility and I’m down to do whatever they ask me to do.”
Where they stand
Kenny Vaccaro: He wants to be the first safety drafted, and at the moment it appears he’ll get his wish. He hoped to improve on his 4.63 time in the 40 at the NFL Combine, but he didn’t run at pro day after sustaining a minor hip flexor. Still, NFLdraftscout.com ranks him as the No. 19 overall prospect in the draft, the No. 1 safety and a possible mid-first round pick.
Alex Okafor: He also has been hampered by a minor hip injury that occurred during Senior Bowl week and kept him from doing much at the combine. He went through all pro day activities Tuesday, though, and was happy with his showing. NFLdraftscout.com ranks him as the 31st overall player and sixth defensive end in the draft, and he’s projected as a possible second-round pick.
Marquise Goodwin: There’s never been a question about his speed, and he showed why at the combine with a 4.27 clocking in the 40 that was the fastest time of the week. He believed he answered scouts’ questions about his hands and route-running on pro day, and he also did a nice job of catching punts. Formerly projected as either a late-rounde pick or an undrafted free agent, he now is NFLdraftscout.com’s 98th overall prospect, 13th wide receiver and a possible third-round selection.