Liuget, Leshoure stand out at Illinois' pro day

Posted March 16, 2011 @ 6:52 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Three top NFL draft prospects mostly stood on their work from the Indianapolis Scouting Combine, but representatives from 30 of the 32 NFL teams took close notice of their work in individual drills.

DT Corey Liuget and RB Mikel Leshoure both stood out in their positional drills. LB Martez Wilson, though he displayed his strong athleticism, was not as strong during the linebacker portion.

They were watched by a large contingent of pro scouts and coaches, highlighted by Jets head coach Rex Ryan. The only teams not reported to be there were the Buccaneers and Cardinals. Defensive coordinators Rod Marinelli (Bears) and Perry Fewell (Giants) were in attendance.

All three players bypassed the bench press, the high and broad jumps and the 20- and 60-yard shuttles.

Liuget stood out in the defensive line drills, which were run by Marinelli, especially during the bags portion of the workout. Liuget received a third-round grade from the Underclassman Advisory Board but has seen his stock go up consistently. Fewell appeared impressed.

"Boy, he got off the ball today," Fewell told PFW. "I like the way he worked the bags. He had good hand-eye coordination. I thought his feet looked really good and smooth. I was really impressed with him. He had a good burst and finish in the bag drills. I thought he had a really good showing today."

Ryan was seen talking to Liuget, who measured in at 6-2 and 301 pounds (two pounds heavier than at the Combine), for a few minutes after his portion of the workout was over. When asked if he could play in the Jets' 3-4 scheme, Liuget didn't hesitate. "I love Coach Rex," he said. "He was joking around with me. He asked if my last name was 'Ryan.'

"But (in a 3-4), yes, I have played a 1-technique, a three, a five … I have done it all. I can definitely (play as a 3-4 end).

"Today, the scouts came out to see if I was in shape. I was in shape, and I impressed them."

Wilson then worked next at the linebacker drills, run by Bengals LB coach Jeff FitzGerald. Wilson's hips appeared stiff at first, and his hands came into question when he dropped several potential interceptions. But he finished stronger as the workout went on. Wilson said some of the drills were a bit unfamiliar to him, but he adjusted as they went on.

"It was just getting a whole feel for it. It was just the adjustment of it all.

"I was happy with my Combine numbers. All I wanted to do here was my position drills and I was confident and happy with myself."

"He's a solid athlete," Fewell said of Wilson. "I'd like to see a little more violence on (game) tape — but you don't see violence in (pro day) drills."

Leshoure then took center stage. He appeared fluid in pass-receiving drills, even making a one-handed catch. Although Leshoure wasn't used a lot as a receiver in college, he said he felt more than comfortable — and looked natural catching the football.

"Receiver being one of my favorite positions, I would have loved to be out there catching the ball a little more," he said.

Fighting Illini head coach Ron Zook watched his former players perform. Former Illini and current Chiefs OL Jon Asamoah also was in attendance.