SU players participate in university pro day

Jerome Smith, Jay Bromley and Marquis Spruill were among 13 SU football players who had one final shot to increase their draft stocks.

Jerome Smith walked out of Manley Field House Wednesday afternoon like he’d just scored the game-winning touchdown for the Orange. With beads of sweat dripping down his face, Smith smiled widely. After a sub-par NFL Combine in February, Smith had cause for celebration: he improved his 40-yard dash time by over two-tenths of a second—from 4.84 seconds to between 4.5 and 4.6 seconds.

“It was a good work out for me. I got better at everything I did at the Combine,” he said.” My numbers at the Combine were horrible, so I knew I had to come back and redo things.”

That included his starting stance, which Smith said he changed before the Combine, but decided to go back to his normal stance after his dismal numbers. Before Wednesday’s pro day, Smith was rated the 23rd running back in the 2014 draft class, according to CBS Sports.

After finishing his workouts, Smith said NFL scouts were impressed by his physical style of football, his ability to catch balls and protect the pocket during blitz packages. Smith said big running backs like LeGarrette Blount of the New England Patriots and Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks carry teams through the playoffs, and that was part of his pitch to scouts.

“I told them all you need a big back to win games,” Smith said. “And they looked at me and kind of nodded their head.”

Smith was among thirteen Syracuse players scheduled to participate in the Combine, which also included defensive tackle Jay Bromley and linebacker Marquis Spruill. Smith and Bromley were the only two SU players invited to the Combine, so Wednesday’s event was Spruill’s first chance to showcase his skills to the 29 NFL scouts.

“I just wanted to show my raw speed and athleticism,” Spruill said. “I achieved my goal for the most part.”

Bromley, who was rated as the 21st defensive tackle according to CBS Sports, recently said he is a top-10 player at his position. And after his pro day, he stuck by those words.

“I don’t know how many d-tackles have 10 sacks,” he said. “I wasn’t in like a WAC conference; I was in the ACC. I didn’t feel like I had much to prove, but anything I had something to prove to myself.”

Bromley said he could find a player on any team in the NFL whom he tries to emulate, but the Ray McDonald and Justin Smith of the San Francisco 49ers are the two defensive tackles Bromley said he really compares himself to.

“I believe I can help any team win,” he said.

Former SU stars were instrumental in preparing the Orange’s 2014 crop for the draft. Bromley and Spruill said they talked to Chandler Jones, Shamarko Thomas and Arthur Jones about the process and the workouts. Smith said he talked to former SU running backs Delone Carter, Curtis Brinkley and Antwan Bailey three times a week to help him prepare. And all of them said the same thing: “Dominate.”

The NFL Draft starts May 8, but the SU players projected to be selected in later rounds on May 10. Only Smith and Bromley are projected to even be drafted—Smith in the seventh and Bromley in the sixth or seventh.

But now that all the timed drills are done, Smith is excited to relax a little and focus on graduating before waiting to hear his name called on draft day.

Said Smith: “I can sit and breathe a little bit.”


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