Texas A&M welcomed no head coaches, no general managers and no former Presidents to their Pro Day on Wednesday. Rap music was missing over the sound system, with no grand entrance by a quarterback with a cool nickname.
There was plenty of elbow room on the sideline, where the Aggies’ best prospect cheered on his teammates. Offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi tore an anterior cruciate ligament late in the Aggies’ bowl game, giving him no chance to help his draft stock.
“Yeah, it sucks,” the Allen High School product said. “… But I’m happy for all of [my teammates].”
The Aggies welcomed 36 scouts, including two position coaches, from 28 NFL teams. They worked out nine prospects, including former A&M and UT El Paso quarterback Jameill Showers.
But Ogbuehi has to stand on his game tape as he rehabs in Orange County, Calif., with former Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Ogbuehi expects to start running in 2 1/2 weeks with a goal of returning for training camp.
“He’s a good football player,” Green Bay Packers senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith said. “He’s quick and agile.”
Ogbuehi received four first-round grades from the draft advisory board after the 2013 season. He considered declaring, but A&M convinced him to return by buying him a loss-of-value insurance policy.
Ogbuehi had hopes of becoming a high first-round pick after a senior season spent at left tackle. And he started the season as a consensus top-15 pick, with CBS Sportsline draft analyst Dane Brugler ranking Ogbuehi as the top draft prospect for 2015.
Although Ogbuehi still has dreams of being a first-rounder, it’s more likely he hears his name on the second day. Ogbuehi’s insurance policy will pay the difference between where he was projected last year and where he goes this year.
Ogbuehi missed five games with injuries in his career, three games with an ankle injury as a freshman and two with a groin injury as a junior. But it’s the ACL tear that has dropped Ogbuehi on draft boards.
“Cedric was having a solid senior year, where you felt like he was going into the draft as a possible top-10 prospect,” ESPN analyst Mark Dominik, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers former general manager, said recently. “… I think what’s going to happen now is he’s going to drop into the second round, but you’re going to get good value there. I think it’s going to come to a team that feels like it’s got a little bit more patience, but you can be rewarded for it. It’s just a hard thing in this league to have patience anymore when you’re talking about higher picks.”
Scouts question Ogbuehi’s best position in the NFL. He moved back to right tackle after 11 games at left tackle in 2014. In his four seasons, Ogbuehi started 19 games at guard, 13 at right tackle and 11 at left tackle.
“He’s played every position for us except center,” A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “At the college level, he’s a quality offensive lineman, one of the best in the country. How that translates to the next level, I don’t know. I think it depends on your scheme, what you want to do. But certainly, he’s talented enough to play a number of positions.”
The Aggies have produced six first-round draft choices the past four years, but Ogbuehi stands as the school’s lone hope of keeping the streak alive. He joins a parade of A&M offensive tackles into the NFL, with Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews drafted in the first round the past two years.
“That’s cool,” Ogbuehi said. “Me and Jake and Luke are close friends. Seeing them have success is a good feeling. Next year, I will join them in the league.”
Joeckel went No. 2 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013, and Matthews landed with the Atlanta Falcons as the No. 6 overall pick last year. Ogbuehi won’t go as high but could end up being as good, according to former A&M head coach Mike Sherman.
“Cedric was a good athlete [in high school]. He was well-rounded for his position,” Sherman said recently. “I liked the way he developed, and I felt terrible for him when he got hurt. He came back for all the right reasons. It was a setback, but knowing the kind of kid he is, I’m sure he’ll fight through it. He’ll do what it takes, because he’s always had a tremendous work ethic.”