Auburn, Ala.--While Lombardi Trophy winner and SEC Defensive Player of the Year Nick Fairley has received a huge amount of attention as the potential number one pick in the 2011 National Football League Draft, the other starting tackle on Auburn’s defensive front really stood out at Auburn’s Pro Day.
While more than 100 NFL scouts were on hand to check out Fairley and quarterback Cameron Newton, Zach Clayton put on an impressive show as the defensive tackle did everything well at the event held at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Measuring in at 6-2, 299 pounds, Clayton smoked through the 40-yard dash on a windy day running on grass. Multiple stop watches had him in the high 4.6s.
“I was really happy with my 40 time,” Clayton says. “I wanted to run a 4.8 or better so I accomplished my goal in that test.”
A player who former Auburn defensive line coach Tracy Rocker has predicted will play in the NFL, Clayton performed that way on Tuesday in the standing broad jump as he won praise from the NFL scouts with a leap of 10 feet.
“I knew I had jumped 10 feet before, but I was at a lighter weight when I did that so I was pleasantly surprised,” Clayton admitted. “At 299 pounds my goal was around nine feet, nine inches. To be able to jump 10 feet is something that I was extremely pleased with when I found out the number.”
Clayton had the most reps on the bench press of any of the players working out in Auburn on Tuesday. “I really wanted 30, but I guess you can’t get too greedy so I am happy with 27 reps,” said Clayton. “Hopefully, it will help me out."
Clayton waits in the north end zone of Jordan-Hare Stadium for the defensive lineman drills to start.
After one of his drills Clayton was impressive enough to be pulled aside by Denver Broncos head coach Jon Fox to give the Auburn senior some encouraging words.
“That was really exciting coming off my three cone drill,” Clayton said with a big smile of his chat with the head coach. “I am hoping to get my name out there and open some eyes.
“I talked to some scouts from other NFL teams and the feedback was positive,” he added. “I am just waiting to see what teams I will be doing team interviews with so hopefully I will get an opportunity to do that soon.”
Clayton, a state champion in high school in the discus and shot put, has a very strong lower body and used that strength to go 33 1/2 inches in the vertical jump.
Unlike most of the players around the country who participate in pro days, Clayton did not go to a special workout center to train. He stayed in Auburn and worked out under the direction of his father, Auburn assistant track and field coach Jerry Clayton, and Kevin Yoxall, Auburn’s strength and conditioning coach. “Coach Yox has been nice enough to let us use the weight room,” Clayton said. “It has been huge. We definitely appreciate that.
Clayton will change his training schedule as he waits on the NFL Draft. “We will do more football specific training and stay in Auburn and just go from there,” he said.
Clayton is shown in action as a senior for the Tigers, who finished 14-0.
All things considered, Clayton is upbeat about how his pro day went. “I think I accomplished all of the goals I wanted to accomplish in each event. I feel like I performed right at peak in the defensive line drills.”
Fairley, who worked out at the combine in Indianapolis, participated with Clayton along with defensive linemen Antoine Carter, Mike Blanc and Michael Goggans. “I thought everybody had a good workout,” Clayton said of the group. “I thought Nick looked real sharp, real smooth.”
Nick Fairley runs a cone drill on Tuesday at Auburn's pro day.
Carter, who measured in at 6-3 3/4, 259 pounds, ran well for the pro scouts with a 40-yard dash time of 4.63 seconds. “It went good and I gave it my all,” he said. “I am just going to hope for the best.”
A player who was hoping to receive an invitation to the NFL Combine, Carter said he quickly got over the snub and went to work training for the pro day.
“I was really pleased with how I did on all of the drills,” he said. “There really isn’t a specific one that stands out above the rest.”
The player who stood out above the rest in college football in 2010, Newton, had a good day throwing the football to familiar receivers such as Terrell Zachery, Kodi Burns and Darvin Adams. The Heisman Trophy winning quarterback threw a variety of passes for the pro scouts for approximately 45 minutes and almost every one was on target.
Newton said he thought he was “okay” in his session on Tuesday. “I felt comfortable and that was the biggest thing...I had a blast just interacting with my teammates and just coming out here and competing. Today was another day to get better and that is all I was trying to do.”
Cam Newton passes for NFL scouts on Tuesday, including former Denver Broncos star John Elway (background, far right).
Newton stayed with his combine test numbers and concentrated on his passing workout on Tuesday. Running back Mario Fannin, who tested well in Indianapolis, concentrated on the workout, too, although he did test in the standing broad jump and he had a leap of 9 feet, 8 1/2 inches.
“I thought it worked out great for me,” Fannin said of Auburn’s pro day. “My goal was to look flexible in the drills and I wanted to show the scouts that I am not as stiff as I was in Indianapolis. I felt stiff up there during the combine doing the drills. I think I showed them flexibility and I wanted to show them how I can catch the football and I think I did that, too. It was pretty big for me.”
One of the other highlights of pro day included cornerback and kick returner Demond Washington being clocked at under 4.4 seconds in the 40 by some scouts. He had the fastest time of the event. Wide receiver Zachery was timed in the 4.4 flat range by a variety of scouts and was the second fastest player at the event.
Defensive tackle Mike Blanc, weighing 286 pounds, ran an impressive 4.74 yard dash on his second try, improving from a 4.94 on his first run.
Linebacker Craig Stevens had the best standing broad jumping, going 10 feet, two inches. Stevens did not run the 40, but did well in the vertical jump going 33 1/2 inches.
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