A sleepless night turned into a nauseous morning for former Tigers running back Brad Lester, who was so anxious for the start of Auburn’s pro day that he threw up three times.
“It actually surprised me,” he said. “It was so important, and I guess it’s why I was so nervous because I knew how much today could help me potentially get drafted.”
Scouts from all 32 NFL teams descended Tuesday on Auburn for the team’s annual 3 1/2-hour gauntlet of measurements, drills and conversation with pro personnel.
Fifteen Auburn players from the past and present participated, including three — Jerraud Powers, Sen’Derrick Marks and Tyronne Green — who worked out at the NFL combine in Indianapolis last month.
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Powers, who bypassed his senior season to enter the draft, came away as one of the day’s winners, running the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds, the third-best time of the group, and working out individually with several intrigued scouts afterward.
“The main thing people were worried about was, was he going to do a lot here today at the workout,” said Powers, a projected third- to fifth-round pick in April’s NFL draft who has been working out in Los Angeles. “I wanted to show them that I’m a competitor and I believed I could improve.”
Powers said he doesn’t regret his decision to leave early for the NFL.
“I didn’t believe my status as a corner was going to change,” he said.
Marks and Green battled injuries that have hampered them throughout the offseason.
Marks’ stock has dropped since a sub-par NFL combine, where a hamstring injury prevented him from doing anything other than the 40-yard dash, vertical leap and interviews. He bypassed the 40 and vertical leap Tuesday, stepping gingerly through the few agility drills he attempted.
“(The hamstring) knocked a lot of my numbers off about two seconds, but it’s OK,” said Marks, whose second-round projection could take more of a hit. “I’m going to go get my hamstring right and have another workout.”
Green faced similar problems after tweaking a quadriceps. He passed on most of the drills he already did at the combine, instead focusing on a few agility tests.
The offensive guard was one of the last to leave the practice field, doing individual drills with scouts from several pro teams.
“They were pushing me, wanting to see what I could do and if I could handle being a little tired,” he said. “I pushed through it.”
Defensive tackle Tez Doolittle turned some heads, showing up in great shape — “I’ve been working my tail off,” the 285-pounder said — and performing well in the drills despite a ginger hamstring.
He bench-pressed 225 pounds 22 times (the day’s most) and ran a 4.92-second 40-yard dash, showing no ill effects of the Achilles’ injury from two years ago that nearly ended his career.
“I never thought I’d be here,” Doolittle said.
Lester benched 225 pounds 18 times, tops among the skill-position players, and turned in a 4.48-second, 40-yard dash time.
Other workout wonders included wide receiver James Swinton, who posted the best vertical leap (42 inches) and second-best broad jump (10 feet, 11 inches) and 40 time (4.39 seconds).
Running back Tristan Davis clocked the best 40 time at 4.38 seconds and wide receiver Charles Olatunji had the best broad jump (11-1 1/2).
Once the drills were moved out of the John H. Watson Fieldhouse, the Tigers receivers were reunited with an old face when former quarterback Brandon Cox returned to throw passes.
“It was just good old times having Cox out here throwing to me,” wide receiver Rod Smith said. “He was one of the major reasons I had a good career here at Auburn.”
Smith, a former walk-on who turned into the team’s top receiving threat by his senior year, hopes he can repeat that unlikely success in the pros.
“The NFL draft’s a crazy thing,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen. Maybe I can be one of those surprise guys.”