D.J. Harper improves 40 time at Boise State football pro day

D.J. Harper’s 40-yard dash

By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman

Here’s a recap of Boise State’s pro day Thursday afternoon at the Caven-Williams Sports Complex:

— Tailback D.J. Harper, one of two Broncos who participated in the NFL Scouting Combine, ran the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle to improve his times. He ran the 40 in 4.45 seconds, which would have improved his combine position ranking from tied for sixth (4.52) to third.

“My 40 time was top six among running backs and the other numbers were solid as well (at the combine),” Harper said of his thinking, “but I knew personally I could do better because at my (training) facility I had done better and even here I had done better, so I might as well redo it, improve those times and look a little better.”

Harper’s other numbers: 4.13 in the 20-yard shuttle (was 4.35 at combine), would have been fifth at the combine; 11.38 in the 60 shuttle (was 11.85), would have been third; 6.88 in the three-cone drill (was 7.07), would have tied for sixth.

“I thought he looked good,” an NFL scout told me. “… I thought it helped (retaking the tests). It looks good when you come out and compete. And he did well.”

— Cornerback Jamar Taylor, who could sneak into the late first round of the draft, only ran the 60-yard shuttle, which he didn’t do at the combine, and performed the defensive back position drills. Taylor ran 10.91 in the 60. Only eight DBs ran that shuttle at the combine and none broke 11 seconds.

“I felt like one drill was kind of rough but everything else I feel pretty confident in,” Taylor said. “The important thing was footwork, because that’s football. … As a corner, you need to show your feet and your hips.”

Taylor said he’s heard talk of him going as high as the late first round of the draft and as low as the fifth.

“People still put me behind other guys, which I feel like is kind of disrespectful because I feel like me and Jerrell (Gavins) are two of the best corners if not the best in the nation,” Taylor said. “I said that at the beginning of the year and I’m still standing by it. I feel like we’re still being disrespected a lot coming from Boise State.”

The scout said no NFL coaches came to town to see Taylor because he has aced the pre-draft process and doesn’t have any nagging holes in his resume.

— Fullback Dan Paul posted the best vertical jump of the pro day participants at 37.5 inches. He also ran the 40 in 4.76 seconds, posted 9 feet, 8 inches in the broad jump and benched 225 pounds 30 times. Those numbers should help him. His bench would have ranked third among running backs at the combine. “He had a nice day,” the scout said.

— Cornerback Jerrell Gavins did not run the 40 or the 60-yard shuttle because he injured a hamstring Saturday. He did some testing and the position drills. He hopes to run the 40 in two weeks at a regional combine in Dallas. Gavins, who was listed at 5-foot-9 last season, measured at 5-7. His size, alone, could prevent him from getting a shot in the NFL.

Taylor stumped for his friend, who came back from a nasty knee injury to help Taylor shut down opposing passing attacks last season.

“The man didn’t give up, I don’t think, any touchdowns,” Taylor said. “Battling back from an ACL, he had a couple rough games to start, but as the year went on, he shut down tall receivers, small receivers, big receivers, skinny. He’s a beast. The ball’s in the air — I don’t care how tall you are, he’s going to jump up and get it. That’s my boy. I’m going to stand behind him 100 percent. I think at the next level he can take over just like he did college.”

— Defensive tackle Mike Atkinson, who tore an anterior cruciate ligament four and a half months ago, offered to run the 40 but was told he didn’t need to. He didn’t do any drills but did 32 reps on the 225-pound bench press. That would have tied for fourth at the combine. Atkinson’s injury may prevent him from getting a chance in the NFL until 2014. He also could play in his native Canada.

— Linebacker Tommy Smith also worked out at fullback and defensive end Jarrell Root, who spent time with the Miami Dolphins last season, tried tight end. Smith played fullback part time in 2011. “Just trying to be as versatile as I can,” Smith said. “Any way I can get in. I’ve got film on it. … I just wanted to show I’m a football player. I can do all the drills. I might not be the fastest, jump the highest, bench the most, but I think it all comes down to the position drills and I think I did pretty good in them.”

— Linebacker J.C. Percy ran the 40 in 4.72 seconds while weighing 233 pounds.

— Other participants: DL Darren Koontz, LB/S Dextrell Simmons, OL Brenel Myers. The participants, and other seniors from last year who didn’t work out, posed for a photo when the event ended. “As a group, we came out and accomplished what we set out to do,” Paul said of the day.

— Scouts from 16 NFL teams and one CFL team were on hand. Last year, those numbers were 28 and three.

Here is a photo gallery from our Darin Oswald.

Below are a series of videos:

Jamar Taylor’s 60-yard shuttle

Dan Paul’s 20-yard shuttle

D.J. Harper’s 20-yard shuttle

Jerrell Gavins’ three-cone drill

Jamar Taylor, Jerrell Gavins and Dextrell Simmons perform a defensive back drill led by Boise State assistant coach Jimmy Lake

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Chadd Cripe has spent the past 12 years as the Boise State football beat writer. You can follow him on Twitter @IDS_BroncoBeat.

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