Virginia Tech football rolled out its NFL prospects on Friday in front of 25 of the 32 NFL teams as almost a dozen players tried to improve their stock with just a month until draft day.
“This is a great day for Virginia Tech, with some great examples of our programs and kids that have graduated from here who have contributed a lot to our program,” Head Coach Justin Fuente said. “It was particularly cool to see our team out there supporting those players. It was a really cool atmosphere going on in the indoor.”
The Hokies have two possible first-round picks this spring in cornerback Caleb Farley and Christian Darrisaw. With two premier prospects on the docket, three NFL general managers were in attendance, along with plenty of scouts and positional coaches who all wanted to meet with Tech’s possible night one picks.
Farley, who opted out of last season due to COVID-19 concerns, did not participate on Friday after having a minor back procedure last week.
“Things don’t always work out the way you want them to, and I’m sure that this was not the way that Caleb envisioned today going,” Fuente said. “If there’s someone who knows something about responding to adversity, it’s certainly Caleb Farley. He’s got a good outlook and a bounce in his step; I think he’s going to be just fine.”
Despite not being able to work out for scouts, he believes that this hiccup shouldn’t affect his draft stock once he’s able to show scans to teams. Farley was able to speak to plenty of teams on Friday as well and continue the interview process, even without going through drills.
“Really the only negative part of the situation is not being able to go put up the numbers that I was supposed to go put up,” Farley said. “I’m just thankful to still be in this position and have the opportunity to showcase my talents at the next level. Whatever team grabs me is going to get the best corner in the draft.”
Before playing his first NFL game, Farley will have gone nearly two years between meaningful snaps with injury issues lingering. While it seemed like a sure thing for months that the star cornerback would be the first Tech player off of the board, Darrisaw has now clouded that conversation with his meteoric rise.
“I think he’s got a chance to be a great NFL player, somebody who gets in somewhere and stays there for a very long time,” Fuente said. “That’s based on what I’ve seen from him over the last several years. This is a man with talent, but he has a great work ethic and incredible toughness.”
Darrisaw has shot up draft boards over the last year and drew considerable attention from scouts and coaches during his workout. Coaches from four separate teams ran the Hokies’ left tackle through drills and seemed impressed with his performance.
Outside of the clear-cut top-two in this year’s class, there were plenty of other Hokies who went through the complete workout and looked to impress the large contingent of scouts in attendance.
Deablo’s Measurables Show Huge Upside
Safety Divine Deablo went through the entire workout process on Friday, and his performance in the weight room and in the 40-yard dash could have moved him more soundly onto the radar of NFL teams.
“It was great to have today’s pro day, especially with everything that’s gone on with COVID,” Deablo said. “We didn’t get to have the combine this year, so that’s an opportunity we won’t get. I’m just thankful that Virginia Tech was able to host a pro day.”
Just looking at Deablo, it’s clear that he has the potential to be a successful NFL safety. Standing at six-foot-three and 225 pounds, Deablo showed off his athleticism early on. Starting in the weight room, he proved to be explosive with a 34-inch vertical jump, followed by a broad jump of ten feet, six inches.
Deablo followed up his strong start to the day with an unofficial 4.46-second run in the 40-yard dash. His run invoked a roar from his Hokies’ teammates in attendance as he continued to show promise early on in the workout.
“I feel like I can match up well with a lot of different players,” Deablo said. “I can use my speed to stick with wide receivers and use my size to play against tight ends. I can do it all, and I think that’s going to make me a valuable player for my future team in the NFL.”
It wasn’t all good for Deablo on pro day as he ran into some issues in the short shuttle and the three-cone drill. On all three attempts on the shuttle, Deablo slipped out of his break and had similar issues trying to gain traction throughout the day, clearly frustrating the senior safety.
In positional drills, the frustration continued early on as Deablo let three early passes slip through his fingers. Despite the issues in the middle of the day, Deablo rebounded and made some nice plays down the stretch. Most noticeably, the Winston-Salem native glided up the seam and high-pointed the ball from former Hokies’ quarterback Ryan Willis.
Overall, Deablo may have improved his draft position the most on Friday afternoon due to his strong performance in the combine drills. In particular, the Green Bay Packers seemed to show considerable interest in the Hokies’ safety during and between drills.
Herbert and Ashby Each Show Flashes
Among the players working out for the Hokies, Khalil Herbert and Rayshard Ashby may have had the most questions to answer for scouts entering the final month of draft season.
Herbert’s breakout season for the Hokies put him on the radar of NFL teams after posting almost 1,200 yards rushing in his one season in Blacksburg. However, with just a small sample size of dominant play, a strong performance on Friday was necessary to cement his status for April.
“Khalil went through so much at his previous institution, but came here and really fit in well,” Fuente said. “He was really successful here, so it’s really gratifying, and it makes it a fun, enjoyable day.”
The tailback had a strong day in terms of measurables and looked steady during his positional drills which wrapped up the day. Herbert had the best 40 of the day, unofficially running a 4.44 on the stopwatch. He also posted a 33-inch vertical while throwing up 22 reps on the bench, only behind linebackers Ashby and Austin Rosa.
“I knew that all of this was part of the process and this is something that I’ve always wanted to do,” Herbert said. “Just being able to come out here and check those boxes for coaches and evaluators was a fun part of the process.”
Ashby kicked off the drills in the weight room with impressive numbers as well. The Hokies’ steady senior linebacker immediately grabbed the attention with a 31.5-inch vertical jump and 24 reps on the bench.
The question about Ashby is whether he has the speed to be an NFL linebacker and his 40-time probably didn’t help his case. Ashby ran an unofficial 4.84, which would have tied for the fourth-worst time at last year’s NFL combine.
The good news for Ashby is that his straight-line speed deficiencies didn’t seem to affect him in positional drills. Ashby flew all over the field and looked strong to finish off his day. Showing flashes, Ashby surely didn’t hurt his draft stock on Friday, but may not have done enough to hear his name at the end of April.
- Jarrod Hewitt worked out in the weight room but had to stop after just ten reps on the bench due to an injury. Hewitt returned to run in the indoor facility but didn’t go through positional drills with coaches.
- Defensive end Justus Reed went through all of the drills after his lone season in Blacksburg. Reed’s big frame could intrigue some NFL teams, but he put up just 22 reps on the bench and ran just a 4.81 unofficially.
- Walk-on linebacker and special teams player Austin Rosa led the way with 27 bench reps, leading to huge applause in the weight room. Rosa didn’t seem pleased with his performance, likely wanting to reach an even 30.
- The three general managers who made the trip to Blackburg were Washington’s Martin Mayhew, Jacksonville’s Trent Baalke and Green Bay’s Brian Gutekunst. Dallas Head Coach Mike McCarthy was also expected to be in attendance, but he was not present.
- Fuente also said that wide receiver Jaden Payoute had a procedure to remove a plate from his foot and will be out for the rest of the spring. He should be a full-go to return for fall camp.