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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

Junior G Wade Taylor IV (4) covers his face after a missed point during Texas A&Ms game against Arkansas on Feb. 20, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Jaime Rowe/The Battalion)
When it rains, it pours
February 24, 2024
Ali Camarillo (2) waiting to see if he got the out during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024
Advertisement
A&M welcomes new journalism professors from CNN, Dallas Morning News
A&M welcomes new journalism professors from CNN, Dallas Morning News
Ana Renfroe and Stacy Cox April 19, 2024

At a ceremony honoring Aggie journalists, Texas A&M announced it will welcome three new journalism professors in the fall. New hires will...

Advertisement
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) hits a home run during Texas A&M’s game against The United States Air Force Academy on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
No. 1 Aggies combine for 28 runs in doubleheader sweep of Crimson Tide
Luke White and Justin ChenApril 19, 2024

Game 1 If the Texas A&M baseball team can treat each inning like it’s been playing in the fifth frame during the past week, it shouldn’t...

Advertisement
Members of the 2023-2024 Aggie Muster Committee pose outside the Jack K. Williams Administration Building. (Photo courtesy of Aggie Muster Committee)
Orchestrating a century-old tradition
Sydnei Miles, Head Life & Arts Editor • April 18, 2024

As Muster approaches, the Aggie Muster Committee works to organize a now century-old tradition. These students “coordinate every facet” of...

Advertisement
(Graphic by Ethan Mattson/The Battalion)
Opinion: ‘Fake Money,’ real change
Eddie Phillips, Opinion Writer • April 19, 2024

Us Aggies live privileged existences: companies beg us to take on tens of thousands in loans.  I know this may sound contradictory, but the...

Analysis of A&M Pro Day and draft predictions

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

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

    Photo by Chris Swann
  • 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

    Photo by Chris Swann
  • 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)

    Photo by Chris Swann
  • 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)

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

    Photo by Chris Swann
  • 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)

    Photo by Chris Swann
  • 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)

    Photo by Chris Swann
  • 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)

    Photo by Chris Swann
  • 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)

    Photo by Chris Swann
  • 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)

    Photo by Chris Swann
  • 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)

    Photo by Chris Swann
  • 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)

    Photo by Chris Swann
Navigate Left
Navigate Right

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.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *