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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Analysis of A&M Pro Day and draft predictions

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  • Texas A&M linebacker Edgerrin Cooper (45) before Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center

  • Texas A&M offensive lineman Layden Robinson (64) before Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center

  • Texas A&M defensive back Josh DeBerry warms up before Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center

  • Texas A&M running back David Bailey (26) before Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center. (Chris Swann/ The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M wide receiver Ainias Smith catches a pass during Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M running back Earnest Crownover (24) during Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

  • Gloves during Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M linebacker Sam Matthews (12) makes a catch during Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M linebacker Andre White Jr. makes a catch during Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M defensive back Josh DeBerry (28) during Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M football Coach Mike Elko talks to an NFL scout during Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M defensive lineman Enai White (6) during Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M wide receiver Ainias Smith runs the 40-yard dash during Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M running back Earnest Crownover runs the 40-yard dash during Texas A&M’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 19 at the Coolidge Football Performance Center. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

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With the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit just over a month away, the Aggies looking to take the next step in their football journeys made important progress.

On Tuesday, March 19, 13 Aggies and five former Texas A&M players participated in the 2024 A&M Pro Day at the Coolidge Performance Center and worked out in front of NFL coaches, scouts and executives.

It’s time to talk about a few of these players and when they could go during the draft while also explaining the roles they could have in the league.

Edgerrin Cooper – Linebacker
Draft Prediction: Mid 2nd round

The crown jewel of the 2024 A&M NFL draft class, Cooper was a consensus All–American in 2023 and was named his team’s Defensive MVP in his redshirt junior season.

Although the off-ball linebacker position has been devalued in recent years by NFL teams, Cooper displayed the athleticism and length to be a rangy sideline-to-sideline player.

Cooper mentioned the “similar body style” he has to San Francisco 49ers star linebacker Fred Warner and compared his game to the All-Pro’s.

The environment of a Pro Day highlights why teams will fall in love with Cooper. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds and running a 4.51 second 40-yard dash, Cooper is a rare athlete for the position.

“It just felt good to get back to doing football drills,” Cooper said. “I’m just proving what I can do on the field.”

He can be a tick late to diagnose the play and get into his run fits, and his eyes can get fooled by an offense’s schematic window dressing, but when Cooper knows what’s coming, he can get downhill in a hurry.

I would project him into a role similar to how Patrick Queen was utilized in the vaunted 2023 Ravens defense. Paired next to a more rugged and instinctual linebacker, Cooper would be freed up to fly around and make plays on the ball while he continues to hone his game sense.

The Seattle Seahawks, helmed by Coach Mike Macdonald, the former defensive coordinator of that Ravens team, would be a fun landing spot for Cooper early on Day 2.

McKinnley Jackson – Defensive tackle
Projection: Late 4th round

If you like prehistoric football without all the high-flying offenses and you just want a very large man to battle other very large men for 60 minutes, then McKinnley Jackson is the guy for you.

Jackson played as an old school nose tackle who mainly played the zero technique right over the center, but I think he should play over guards in the NFL.

At 6-foot-1 and 326 pounds, Jackson was never going to have the fastest 40-yard dash (and doesn’t need to), but a 1.78 10-yard split at the Combine is impressive for a space-eating defensive tackle.

New England Patriots defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington took Jackson through a barrage of defensive lineman drills at the Pro Day. The senior showed off an explosive first step and linear athleticism to weave between cones. Quick feet married with 24 reps on the bench press is an enticing combination for teams to look at.

Among the most important traits for a defensive tackle is an unselfishness to open up opportunities for teammates to make splash plays. He and Cooper said they would love to keep playing together in the future.

“[Edgerrin Cooper] wouldn’t be who he is without me,” joked Jackson.

Looking ahead for Jackson’s role in the NFL is trickier. He felt misused at times in coordinator DJ Durkin’s defense. Jackson needs to be placed in a spot where he can shoot gaps and penetrate the offensive line as opposed to trying to hold his ground against double teams.

The lack of certainty for his exact role likely means McKinnley hears his name called early on day three. Jackson should be able to be a contributor in a defensive line rotation in his rookie season.

Ainias Smith – Wide receiver
Projection: 6th round

Smith was a do-it-all weapon for the Maroon and White’s offense and an electric punt returner in his graduate season.

Smith is smaller in stature at only 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds but has the athleticism and toughness to outperform what you would think is possible with his frame.

After going to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Smith was not able to participate in all the drills after a stress fracture in his left shin was discovered.

“I was very disappointed,” Smith said of his inability to compete in field drills at the Combine. “At the same time, I was very happy for all the guys I was training with. They went out there and did their thing.”

The man nicknamed “Subzero” did not know his official times for his 40-yard dash at the Pro Day, but he heard it was in the 4.40-4.50 range. Smith claims he would have run in the 4.20-4.30 range if he was fully healthy.

“With me being a little disappointed in my numbers, [the NFL personnel] was telling me it was all smooth because I was running on a broken leg,” Smith said.

Smith’s quick twitch showed up in his agility drills, where he changed directions well and ran an impressive 6.86 three-cone drill.

Due to Smith’s versatility and ability to be moved all over the formation, creative playcallers will be intrigued by his skillset. An extensive background in the return game will give Smith a chance to be active on gamedays and get onto the field with more regularity.

Smith’s draft projection is complicated by the injury and he could go later than his talent levels would indicate. In the 2023 NFL Draft, wide receivers Puka Nacua and Kayshon Boutte had medical concerns that slowed them down during the pre-draft process and were taken on Day 3, and it feels like Smith could be in a similar situation.

Layden Robinson – Offensive guard
Projection: Late 6th round

Perhaps the biggest riser of the Aggies’ Pro Day was Layden Robinson. The offensive guard prospect looked the part as a guy who can move in space, which backed up his strengths on his film.

Robinson already jumped an eye-popping 9-foot-3 at the NFL Scouting Combine with exceptionally long arms for his position. At the Pro Day, Robinson participated in both the 40-yard dash and the agility drills.

The graduate student showed his movement ability and looked really smooth while accelerating and turning the corner.

While testing is not the be-all and end-all (especially for offensive lineman), it is important for NFL evaluators to see if the measurables match up with strength or weaknesses on the field. Robinson is a real road grader in the run game, and he demonstrated this ability to get out to his landmarks at his Pro Day.

Short-area quickness in offensive guards unlocks the versatility of an offensive line and opens up opportunities to run the Kyle Shanahan outside zone-based schemes that the league is moving towards.

Robinson is not a perfect prospect and has flaws in his pass protection technique, but with adequate size and range, a team should take a chance on him on the third day of the draft to see if he can continue his upwards ascension.

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About the Contributor
Chris Swann
Chris Swann, Assistant Photo Editor
Chris is a Journalism junior from Winnsboro, TX. Chris served as the Social Media Manager prior to becoming the Assistant Photo Editor for The Battalion’s photo desk. Before transferring to A&M in the Fall of 2023, Chris spent two years at Tyler Junior College, where he was Photo and Design editor for their student media, The DrumBeat. He is expected to graduate in May of 2026.
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