Butterflies occasionally got the best of former Missouri linebacker Kentrell Brothers last month at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
“When I got to the bench press, that first rep, I dropped the weight on my chest,” Brothers said. “I was nervous. It was like I forgot how to bench.”
He’d spent two months training at Chip Smith Performance outside Atlanta then failed to apply the techniques he’d worked on during testing at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It’s like I was rushing into things and trying to get them over with,” Brothers said.
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Given a second chance to impress NFL scouts and coaches Wednesday during Mizzou’s Pro Day at Devine Pavilion, Brothers improved dramatically, especially with his 40-yard dash time.
Brothers’ 4.89-second sprint at the NFL Combine ranked 27th among 31 linebackers, but his 4.73-second 40-yard dash at Pro Day would have tied for the fifth-fastest among inside-linebacker prospects.
“I was really stressing about the 40, and I improved a lot,” Brothers said. “That was the goal. I knew I wasn’t that slow.”
Brothers also improved his vertical jump 3 inches to 31 1/2 inches and matched his bench press with a personal-record 19 reps.
“It felt a lot better to be at Mizzou,” said Brothers, who also dropped a few pounds, from 250 at the Senior Bowl to 244 Wednesday. “You’re not as stressed. It’s like that home-field advantage. You’ve got your teammates around you, so it’s kind of like practice. I was a lot more comfortable. I think everyone was.”
Brothers, who already met the Browns and interviewed with a handful of other teams after Pro Day, hopes the uptick in measurables combined with two sterling seasons of film are enough to convince teams he’s an every-down linebacker and worthy of an early-round draft pick.
“I heard some good feedback today,” said Brothers, a run-stuffer who led the nation with 152 tackles as a senior and 274 the last two seasons. “They were really more concerned about my 40, but I think I gave them a little bit less to worry about.”
Missouri’s two top offensive lineman, center Evan Boehm from Lee’s Summit West and left tackle Connor McGovern, didn’t participate in any testing.
Both were solid at the NFL Combine, so Boehm and McGovern only went through position drills for the 32 scouts/coaches in attendance — including Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, Seahawks assistant Brennan Carroll, Colts assistant Joe Gilbert and Bengals assistant Robert Couch.
Of course, since Brothers, Boehm and McGovern went to the NFL Combine, Pro Day arguably was more important for the Tigers’ other NFL hopefuls.
“Today was everything for me,” cornerback Kenya Dennis said. “With me not getting a combine invite, this was like my combine. I was just happy … to come out and compete today.”
Dennis, a junior college transfer who emerged as a captain for Missouri last season, posted some impressive numbers. He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash with a 36-inch vertical, 10-foot-5 broad jump, personal-record 17 reps on the bench press and a 4.34-second 20-yard shuttle (also known as the 5-10-5, Pro Agility Test or “I Test”).
Dennis, who might move to safety at the next level, met with the 49ers and Bears on Tuesday before Missouri’s Pro Day.
Running back Russell Hansbrough also impressed with a 4.38 40-yard dash, which would have been the second-fastest at the NFL Combine behind only Georgia’s Keith Marshall (4.31).
Hansbrough also set personal records in the bench press (17 reps) and broad jump (9 feet, 6 1/2 inches).
“I messed up a couple things, but I think I did all right today,” Hansbrough said. “It was good to get in front of some scouts and coaches, especially since I didn’t get to go to the combine.”
Safety Ian Simon also set a personal record with a 6.87 three-cone drill. That would have ranked him eighth at the NFL Combine among all defensive backs.
“It was a good day,” said a bulked-up Simon, who added 20 pounds in the last months and weighed 199 pounds. “It wasn’t the day that I dreamed of, but I hit some good numbers and I got some positive feedback.”
Simon doesn’t currently have any visits scheduled, but he has spoken with the 49ers, Giants, Raiders, Chiefs and Rams.
“It’s been a whirlwind three months, but it’s been a blessing to be where I’ve been and do what I do,” Simon said. “I’ve enjoyed it all.”
Lee’s Summit North graduate Andrew Baggett also participated. He didn’t do any agility tests, but he boomed a few 60-yard field goals for scouts.
“It was another proving ground,” said Baggett, who was the MVP of the NFLPA Bowl and participated in a few other combine-esque exhibitions for scouts last month.
Running back Tyler Hunt, tight end Clayton Echard and wide receiver Wesley Leftwich also worked out during Pro Day. Leftwich revealed he had a screw inserted in his fractured foot seven weeks ago.