NORMAL — Illinois State doesn’t have any locks to be selected in April’s NFL Draft in its 2012 senior class.
Yet the Redbirds do have several players from last season’s Championship Subdivision playoff team who warranted a closer look from NFL scouts Friday at Hancock Stadium.
Matt Brown, Ben Ericksen, Pete Cary, Austin Davis, Tyrone Walker, Evan Frierson, Nate Palmer, Mike Zimmer and Darrelynn Dunn were put through a wide variety of drills and testing at ISU’s Pro Day by scouts from the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I thought I did well. I threw the ball well. That’s really what I wanted to do,” said Brown, ISU career passing leader. “I think I’m going to get a chance somewhere even if I don’t get drafted. I have a lot of game film. That plays to my favor.”
Brown and Frierson participated in the Texas vs. the Nation all-star game.
“I met with a couple teams out there. It felt good to compete with guys who go to bigger schools and show I belong,” Frierson said. “It’s been my dream to be drafted since I was a little boy. But I just want to get into camp and make a roster.”
Ericksen may have the best shot at being a late-round draft choice among the former Redbirds. The safety has size at 6-foot-1 and sub 4.4 second speed in the 40-yard dash. One stopwatch had Ericksen at 4.34 Friday.
ISU all-time receiving leader Tyrone Walker was happy to post a lower 40 time than in a recent Pro Day at Northwestern.
“I think I did great,” said Walker, who lowered his 40 time from 4.68 to 4.56. “Now that this is over we can focus on training for regular football, not worry about times and just worry about perfecting what we’re doing with our routes.”
A defensive end at ISU, Palmer is likely a linebacker at the next level.
“A lot of 4-3 teams are looking at me as a SAM (strong side) linebacker,” Palmer said. “I didn’t run as well as I wanted. But I’m happy I got my name out there.”
Dunn has a 1,000-yard rushing season to his credit, but he was grateful for an opportunity to display his receiving skills while catching passes from Brown on Friday.
“I got to split out wide and catch some balls,” Dunn said. “Because of my broken hand, I didn’t really get to showcase my receiving abilities (last season). Today was a good day to show that.”
Davis is eyeing the Canadian Football League if an NFL opportunity does not arise.
“I wanted to show my athletic ability and (show) I can be versatile,” he said. “One step at a time, but I feel good about today.”
Zimmer believes he can remain an inside linebacker as a professional.
“I weighed in at 237. I think I’m more than capable to play inside,” said the 6-3 Zimmer. “The general consensus is they like my motor, they like my technique, they like my knowledge of the game. We’ll see what happens with all of it.”
Tight end Brandon Venson, who was in training camp with the Bears last fall, and receiver Marvon Sanders also worked out for scouts. Both last played at ISU in 2011.