AUBURN, Ala. — Before the 2016 Auburn Tigers opened their second week of spring practice, several of their NFL hopefuls from seasons past were put to the test one more time on the Plains.
Fourteen former Tigers took to the weight room and indoor practice field for Auburn's 2016 pro day. Representatives from every NFL team except the Arizona Cardinals were in attendance, including New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, as Sam Butler of the Auburn Plainsman noted:
Others wanted to turn some more heads, including wide receiver D'haquille Williams, who was dismissed from the team on October 5 but was invited back on campus for drills.
Here are the full results from Monday's action, including a breakout day for defensive back Blake Countess:
Perhaps the biggest Auburn story coming out of the combine, running back Peyton Barber, felt he had a strong overall pro day workout.
Barber, who decided to leave school early in order to provide financial assistant for his mother, posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.59 seconds and a 32-inch vertical leap.
Jeff Shearer of the school's official website shared a video Barber's performance:
"I really wanted to show off my explosion today," Barber said. "I also wanted to show teams my route running and my willingness to catch the ball...I think I did well."
Jones and Louis elected to pass on several of the athletic tests Monday morning thanks to their strong results at the combine. Jones officially ran his 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds, while Louis had a 4.43 along with a position-best 132-inch broad jump.
"I think this has just been a great thing for me and my confidence, getting back from dealing with injuries during the season and being healthy right now," Jones said. "Just being able to have a time to prove what I can do, coming from the Senior Bowl into this and the combine."
Shearer shared why Jones didn't run at the school's pro day:
However, the two did test out in some on-field position drills. Louis even got some work at defensive back, which is something he said he hasn't done since his freshman year of high school.
"Whatever a team wants me to play, whatever position, it doesn't matter," Louis said. "As long as I play in the league. I want to play as long as I possibly can and be part of the reason why a team wins a Super Bowl."
Auburn's best 2016 NFL draft prospect, offensive tackle Shon Coleman, wasn't able to participate, but he still got some face time with franchises on Monday, as noted by the Montgomery Advertiser:
He didn't go through any drills at the school's pro day due to an MCL tear he said he suffered against Georgia last season.
Coleman, who is currently rated as the No. 57 overall prospect by Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller, is focusing on scheduling limited private workouts with teams ahead of the draft.
He expects to be completely healthy by minicamp for his new team.
"It's definitely frustrating," Coleman said. "Being at the combine, I truly felt like I was the most athletic lineman there. So me not being able to showcase that, it's kind of painful. But at the same time, the rehab process is going well, and I'm trying to make everything better than it was before I got hurt."
The best pro day performance belonged to Countess, who wasn't invited to the NFL combine with the likes of Jones, Louis and Coleman.
"This was my combine," Countess said. "I knew I had to do everything to the best of my abilities today, and I felt like I did that."
Countess got off to a hot start with the best vertical jump of any Tiger at 36.5 inches, and he followed it up with 21 reps of 225 pounds on bench press—more than a couple of Auburn's linemen at the event. Bryan Matthews of Rivals.com provided a video of the senior during the drill:
According to James Crepea of AL.com, Countess' bench press total would've been the best among cornerbacks and second-best among all defensive backs at the combine:
Countess' speed and strength should serve him well as an NFL prospect. The former Michigan transfer played both cornerback and safety in his one year at Auburn, and he has familiarity with a wide range of looks thanks to his time at both schools.
"That's what I expected of myself today," Countess said. "I think it was a good thing to be able to showcase that and put it on display in front of everybody. I felt like I would've been a top-three performer in more than one drill [at the combine]. I wasn't there, but I'm competing here."
Williams also competed Monday morning at Auburn, and he was able to slightly improve his numbers from what was a rough overall combine showing in Indianapolis.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said he made the decision to invite Williams back to campus for pro day. Fox 6's Sheldon Haygood provided a look at the former Tiger:
"I let [Williams] come out here today," Malzahn said. "I felt like that was the right thing to do. That was my decision. We wish him the best. Hopefully he impressed some guys for the future."
Several former Tigers at the combine reacted positively to Williams' return to the Plains.
"That's still our brother," offensive tackle Avery Young said. "Regardless of what all of his issues were, he's still our brother. He's still an Auburn guy. We rally around each other, no matter what things are going on... I met up with him up at the combine, and everything was good."
For Williams and the rest of the players under the microscope Monday, taking the field back at Auburn one more time in front of Malzahn and plenty of current Tigers provided plenty of motivation.
"This time of year is always exciting, to see these guys take the next step," Malzahn said. "It looked like they're having a good time out there, flying around. I'm really proud of this group."
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Justin Ferguson is a National College Football Analyst at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.
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