Aviante Collins has a TCU tradition to protect.
The NFL has drafted seven TCU offensive linemen the past 10 years, with former Horned Frogs offensive linemen Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Joey Hunt, Marshall Newhouse and Marcus Cannon currently on NFL rosters.
“It adds a lot of pressure,” said Collins, who has had a private workout with the Atlanta Falcons. “It’s like, ‘Wow!’ We’ve had an offensive lineman drafted almost every single year [since 2009]. I’m not going to be the one to mess up that trend, that following.
“People used to call us Linebacker U, because we always had good linebackers in the NFL. But now we have [a lot] of offensive linemen in the NFL, and they’re on active rosters and they’re doing very, very well.”
Collins might have propelled himself into the late rounds of the draft with his performance at TCU’s Pro Day on Friday. A borderline draft choice, the 6-foot-4, 292-pounder had a 24-inch vertical, 8-foot, 6-inch broad jump and looked good in position drills, according to scouts.
“The greatest story about Aviante is we were able to get him a medical fifth year, and he probably wouldn’t have had an opportunity [to be drafted] a year ago,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “Here’s a guy that started for us who now has an opportunity to get drafted. He won’t play tackle, but he has a chance.
“When you have a guy that size who can run like he does, he gives himself an opportunity maybe on special teams, maybe a center, a guard.”
Collins made 29 starts at right tackle and seven at left tackle in his career at TCU, but he projects to move inside in the NFL.
He first turned heads at the NFL Scouting Combine with 34 reps in the 225-pound bench press and the third-fastest 40 by an offensive lineman since 2003 with a fully automated time of 4.81. Among offensive linemen, only Terron Armstead (4.71) and Lane Johnson (4.72) have run faster combine times the past 14 years in Indianapolis.
The Frogs, without a top-100 ranked prospect for the first time in four years, drew 29 scouts from 26 NFL teams to their annual Pro Day. But only one assistant coach — Tennessee Titans defensive assistant Brandon Blaney — was on hand.
The Frogs have had a player drafted into the NFL the past eight years, including three first-rounders, two second-rounders and a third-rounder. Collins and defensive lineman/linebacker Josh Carraway are the Frogs’ best chances to continue the streak.
Carraway, who weighed 239 Friday, stood on his combine numbers, but went through position drills. Scouts worked him at linebacker, where he dropped several passes.
“I think it went really well,” Carraway said. “You’ve got to work on the ball skills. Overall, I think I showed I can move in space, and I can play 3-4 outside linebacker.”
Seven other prospects worked out for scouts Friday. Receiver Ja’Juan Story, who finished his college career after the 2015 season, ran hand-held 40 times of 4.44 and 4.47, which could at least get him a look from the NFL.