March 19, 2014

Baylor, even without a first-round prospect, will add to its NFL draft totals

Baylor has 18 players work out for 36 NFL scouts.

Art Briles has had five first-round draft picks since arriving as Baylor’s head coach in 2008. Jason Smith, Danny Watkins, Phil Taylor, Kendall Wright and Robert Griffin III stand larger than life on banners lining the west wall of the team’s Allison Indoor Facility.

The Bears won’t add to the wall this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s a down year.

Eighteen players worked out for 36 scouts from 30 NFL teams Wednesday during Baylor’s Pro Day, and at least six of those have draftable grades.

“On paper, we don’t have any first-round draft picks, but you line up all these guys out here, I guarantee they’ll lock up or beat your first-round draft pick,” safety Ahmad Dixon said. “Coach Briles knows how to go out and find guys. These guys are … [good] ballplayers.”

Baylor ranks second in the Big 12 over the past three seasons with 11 NFL draft picks. Only Oklahoma, with 17, has more. The Bears have had 14 players drafted the past five years.

“It’s big time,” Briles said. “It means that we’ve got good players who have come here and have developed into great players and have a chance to go play in the league. That’s something we’re not satisfied being second. We want to be the first. … We’ll keep recruiting NFL-type players without question.”

The Big 12 champions might be without a top-100 pick for the first time since 2008, the last time Baylor went unrepresented during an NFL Draft. But Dixon, offensive guard Cyril Richardson and running back Lache Seastrunk all have shots to go late on the second day (third round) or early on the third day (fourth round).

Richardson, a North Crowley product, weighed 333 pounds Wednesday, a gain of 4 pounds from the NFL Scouting Combine. He ran 40 times of 5.19 and 5.26 seconds and lifted the 225-pound bench press 27 times.

“I’m just ready to get called,” Richardson said. “That’s honestly just the whole goal right there.”

Seastrunk, who ran for 2,189 yards and 18 touchdowns in his two-year Baylor career, weighed 199 pounds. He ran times of 4.46 and 4.47, had a 6.81 three-cone drill and went 11.33 in the 60-yard shuttle.

He said he has visits set up with the Steelers and the Bills.

Seastrunk, known for his bold predictions, including a boast about winning the Heisman Trophy in 2013, wouldn’t predict his NFL future.

“I don’t want to put anything out there,” Seastrunk said. “I just want to go in there and play to the best of my ability. You guys want me to say like I’m going to be the best player to ever play in the NFL, huh? I haven’t even [played] in the NFL. I’m just going to earn my job and earn my keep. That’s it.”

Dixon ran a 4.52 and had a 34-inch vertical jump Wednesday. Dixon, a Waco native who played at nearby Midway High School, has seen the growth of the program since Briles’ arrival.

“I remember times where, shoot, they were giving away home tickets in Happy Meals, or giving them away to students for good behavior or perfect attendance,” Dixon said. “For this program to get to where it is now is great to see.”

These days a Baylor football ticket is akin to a “Bugatti,” Dixon said. The Bugatti Vitesse is the fastest roadster in the world, capable of 254 mph, and costs some $2.5 million.

“It has a lot more value and meaning,” Dixon said. “I want to give a special thanks to that 2008 class. Those guys came through here, and they started something … that we can only imagine. Those guys laid it all on the line. A lot of people might want to say, ‘This 2013 senior class, y’all are the reasons this happened.’ It wasn’t because of us. It was that 2008 class. … Those guys are the guys that laid the foundation that helped us to get to where we are now.”

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