With the 2018 NFL Draft just a few weeks away and the NFL Combine in the rear-view mirror, Virginia Tech’s Pro Day on Wednesday was one of the final opportunities for former Hokies to impress representatives from all 32 NFL teams, including Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Oakland Radiers general manager Reggie McKenzie and Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney.
Several former Virginia Tech players participated at Wednesday’s event, with most of them hoping to boost their draft stock or give themselves a chance to catch on with a professional team. For linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, he’s just trying to validate what everyone already sees. Edmunds is already projected to be a top-10 draft pick, and Edmunds’ goal on Wednesday was to bolster the industry-held opinion of his NFL potential.
“Just come out here and display some of my talents, display what I’ve been working on,” Edmunds said. “Just show these coaches, show these scouts, everybody that came out my abilities.”
Edmunds, who excelled at the 2018 NFL Combine at the beginning of the month, has had to go through the entire pre-draft process dealing with the hype. Analysts from every reputable media outlet have projected Edmunds as a unique player capable of being a perennial Pro Bowler in the NFL, but Edmunds has successfully ignored the talk.
“It hasn’t been that hard,” Edmunds said. “I’m the type of guy that’s kind of laid back, so I don’t let that kind of stuff get in my head. Just control what I can control and be the best player that I can be.”
Edmunds has spent the offseason working out at the EXOS facility in Pensacola, Fla. with his brother, Terrell. Having each other while working away from home has made the process easier, even if the two work in different groups.
“The guys down there, they’re great,” Terrell Edmunds said. “They have the meal prep set up for you, they have all of the trainers, the massages, they have everything right there for you in a nice little area. It’s warmer down there and I’m working with Tremaine. We weren’t in the same workout group, so I’ve seen him just on parts of the day but at the same time, just knowing you’ve got your little brother down there and that you’ve got somebody to hang out with at all times.”
Terrell is coming off a solid performance at the NFL Combine. Edmunds finished tied for first in the vertical jump along defensive backs and tied for second in the broad jump among defensive backs. He also ran a 4.47-second 40-yard-dash, showing that his speed shouldn’t be an issue in the NFL. Edmunds felt good about his performance at Tech’s Pro Day but knows more work is ahead of him.
“The end goal is not achieved yet,” Edmunds said. “We’re still working every day. You can still get better, even from the numbers at the combine. Every day, I’m still working out trying to get better.”
Settle rebounds after lackluster performance at NFL Combine
Virginia Tech’s Pro Day was important for defensive tackle Tim Settle. After struggling in testing and on-field workouts at the NFL Combine, Settle needed another chance to show that his athleticism isn’t a question.
“I wasn’t really satisfied with my numbers from the combine, as far as the times,” Settle said. “I’ve been working hard the last two months, trying to get good times. I went out there and was messing up. Had to do it like five times. My whole goal here today was just to dominate everything, as far as increasing my numbers. I did that. I’m satisfied. I was excited, happy with my performance. I felt like I worked hard and gave it all I could.”
Settle, who weighed in at 329 pounds at the combine, weighed in at 323 pounds on Wednesday. Outside of preparing for the NFL Draft, Settle has used this extra time to mature.
“I’ve definitely seen myself maturing, being that grown man,” Settle said. “The grown man is coming out of me, as far as being in a room for two months with nobody to wake me up or talk to. I’ve had Wyatt (Teller) but we work out, we’re tired. I’ll be in my room and he’ll be in his room. We aren’t even close to each other. We’re in the same hotel complex, but it’s a little hike. So I feel like maturity was a big thing for me, as far as being alone. A lot of thinking going on. Just thinking how I can better my life. I feel like that helped me grow up.”
Phillips hits the field after long rehab
The last few months have been immensely difficult for former Virginia Tech wide receiver Cam Phillips. The four-year starter missed Virginia Tech’s bowl game vs. Oklahoma State to finish last season and was unable to participate athletically at the NFL Combine. He’s been recovering from surgery to repair a sports hernia, an injury Philllips played through all last season.
“I think it’s like the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Phillips said. “I had never had surgery before. I’m taught, I’m wired just to push through it, just deal with it somehow. Taking anti-inflammatory pills, trying to mask the pain so I could get through that. But I’ve been trying to get back to 100 percent, something I haven’t felt in a while. It’s been tough. I’m still working at it.”
Despite the injury, Phillips put up stellar numbers in 2017 and set two school records. He caught 71 passes for 946 yards and seven touchdowns, setting Virginia Tech records in career receptions and yards. And yet, if Phillips had been healthy, the numbers could have been so much better.’
“There were times where I would catch the ball, run a little bit and I had to come out of the game to let the pain die back down so I could go back in,” Phillips said. “I felt that the team needed it, so I just — I had no choice really.”
Phillips was healthy enough to work out for scouts and coaches on Wednesday but didn’t perform up to his expectations. Phillips hoped to flash his speed in the 40-yard-dash but didn’t feel good about his run. He said afterwards that he didn’t know his exact time and didn’t even want to know.
“I didn’t think I did so well at that,” Phillips said. “I wanted to do what I do well — run routes and catch the ball. I did that well, but the testing could have went much better. It is what it is. I’m going to put my best foot forward, go back to football specific training, make a big splash.”
Phillips still has a lot going for him. He was a four-year starter at Virginia Tech and was productive throughout his career. He has experience working inside and outside and interviewed well with teams at the NFL Combine.
“I think it went well because I’m a smart guy talking football,” Phillips said. “That’s really easy for me, talking routes and concepts. It’s easy for me to remember. I wasn’t sweating at all during any of that. No background troubles, never been arrested or failed a drug test. I played every game while I was here, with the exception of the bowl game. I didn’t really have anything to worry about.”
The 2018 NFL Draft begins on Thurs., April 26 and runs through Sat., April 28. Until then, players can visit teams and participate in private workouts. Some prospects will return to their offseason workout facilities, while others will return to Blacksburg and work out at Virginia Tech. Some will attend the draft, like Tremaine and Terrell Edmunds, while others will watch from home. For Cam Phillips, it’ll be just another day.
“Acting like it’s a normal day,” Phillips said. “If I get a phone call, I’ll be excited but up until then, I’ve got to get a lot better, feeling more confident, getting myself back to where I know I can be, performing.”