NIU football players showing off for scouts
DeKALB – Sean Progar had attended previous Northern Illinois pro days as an underclassman.
Friday afternoon at the DeKalb Recreation Center, the former NIU defensive end had his chance to show what he can do in front of NFL scouts.
Coming off a 12-2 season and the school’s first BCS appearance, Progar and a number of former Huskies, including fellow defensive end Alan Baxter, cornerback Rashaan Melvin, receiver Martel Moore, defensive tackle Nabal Jefferson and tight end Jason Schepler got the chance to work out at their own pro day.
About 20 NFL scouts showed up for the event, a nice jump from previous seasons.
“I know we had a lot of good players coming out and obviously we had a good year,” Progar said. “That’s going to attract more scouts. I’ve come to all the pro days since I’ve been there and there’s about 10 to 12 scouts usually. ... It was good for us, good for the school, good for the university.”
A defensive end during his Huskies career, Progar is a player who might fit better as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Baxter is in the same situation. In the weeks heading up to the NFL draft, he’s going to try to participate in other events to prove his worth. He said he ran a high-4.6 40-yard dash at pro day, a time in the area he was looking for.
Already knowledgeable at defensive end, he started getting to work at linebacker right after the Orange Bowl.
“It’s a different game back there. I think I’ve done very well,” said Baxter, who weighed in at 6 feet, 238 pounds. “I think I can succeed at the next level.”
Both Progar and Baxter proved they can get to the quarterback in college. Baxter was second in the Mid-American Conference with 9.5 sacks as a senior, and Progar was third with 8.5
Both are in a situation similar to former Huskies defensive end Larry English. An end throughout his college career, English moved to a 3-4 defensive end spot with the San Diego Chargers after being drafted 16th overall in 2009.
Its a situation both Progar and Baxter could find themselves in.
“It’s going to obviously depend on the scheme I get into. I prefer to be a 3-4 outside linebacker. I think I’m versatile enough to drop, and then obviously I’ve been rushing the passer for five years,” Progar said. “Obviously, I can get that done, but you know, it’s going to come down to what the teams see me as. Wherever they want to put me I’m willing to do.”
Progar, who is 6-foot-11⁄2, 255 pounds, has been a stand-up rusher, something he said he thinks will benefit him should NFL teams see him as a linebacker. He’s hoping to also get some individual workouts before the draft.
“It’s not new for me to stand up. Obviously, I’ll be doing more dropping [back in coverage] and just more hip flexibility and things like that,” Progar said. “I think it’s not going to be as hard of a transition as it would be for a lot of D-ends/linebackers. I’ve been mobile.
“It’s going to be an adjustment, but I think I’m willing to work at it. The guys here are helping me out. I think the pro scouts see the potential in me.”