By most accounts, Missouri Western cornerback Michael Jordan entered as the prized prospect at Thursday’s annual pro day at the Griffon Indoor Sports Complex.
The two-time Division II All-American played the part in front of scouts from at least 17 NFL franchises and one Canadian Football League team, drawing interest and feedback from many.
“Most of (the scouts) said I looked great in my ball drills, which is where I wanted to really excel because that’s football,” Jordan said. “I got a lot of good feedback from that.”
The Carolina Panthers watched Jordan perform prior to the pro day, and the Detroit Lions are scheduled to descend on the GISC before the NFL Draft in April. Jordan is trying to keep his expectations in check, but all the interest can only bring confidence that his dream is within reach.
“I’m very confident I’ll get a shot,” he said. “As far as getting drafted, I don’t know. Like they say, it only takes one team to fall in love and hopefully somebody does.”
The day began with several dozen athletes from small colleges around the region, including 10 from Western and another three from Northwest Missouri State. Each of them were put through speed, strength and agility workouts — including vertical jump, 225-pound bench press, broad jump and the 40-yard dash.
Jordan jumped 37½-inches in the vertical and put up 15 reps on the bench, and said he broad jumped 10-feet, 7-inches. No official measurements were made available by scouts.
The 6-foot, 200-pound defensive back has the build teams look for, and his resume speaks for itself. One of only two D-II players invited to the Shrine Game, he landed on five different All-America first teams in 2015. His senior season featured a team-high five interceptions, 17 pass break-ups and 22 passes defended — second-highest in the nation.
“Mike (Jordan) did well,” Western coach Jerry Partridge said. “I think the one thing he wished he did a little better was the 40, but that’s the one chink maybe is just flat line speed. But Mike’s a great competitor, has great ball skills, is a great competitor. … You name it, he’s got it. He’ll be in a training camp.”
Jordan wasn’t the only Western player getting attention, either. All 10 were invited to complete position drills following the initial workouts.
Defensive end Richard Obi impressed scouts with a 37½-inch vertical leap, defensive tackle Arbanas Elliott had 29 reps on the bench press and offensive lineman Leonard Wester got individual attention thanks in large part to his 6-6, 305-pound frame. His father, Herb, starred at Iowa and Cincinnati drafted him in the fifth round in 1988.
Partridge didn’t downplay the pro day’s location as a factor in how much the scouts paid attention to the Griffons, but said several made the opportunity count.
“The kids aspire to do it, they dream about it,” Partridge said. “It’s a great motivational thing to try to get better and be in that category some day.”
Three of a kind
Northwest’s trio of seniors — quarterback Brady Bolles, defensive tackle Brandon Yost and cornerback Bryce Enyard — also seemed pleased with how they performed.
Bolles has now been in front of scouts twice and heard positive feedback both times. The first came at a regional pro day last month in Minnesota prior to Thursday’s nearly five-hour session.
“It was like the biggest interview of my life and it was fun to be out there,” Bolles said. “The juices started flowing again; I haven’t had that since the national championship.”
Bolles, the only quarterback in attendance, completed baseline workouts with the rest of the players before throwing for the defensive backs and wide receivers/running backs separately. He said he had a vertical of 31½ inches and broad jumped 10-2½.
Bolles is hopeful an NFL team calls, but said he is open to the possibility of following his brother Blake Bolles — a quarterback in the German Football League — overseas.
“I just want to keep playing football,” Brady said. “I’m not ready to be done yet.”
Yost and Enyard are trying to complete a three-year streak of Northwest defensive players making the leap to the NFL, with defensive backs Brandon and Brian Dixon doing it in 2014 and defensive end Matt Longacre joining them last year.
They said they will continue working out in hopes of a life-changing phone call.
“(Northwest strength and conditioning coach Joe Quinlin) did a really good job getting Brady, Bryce and I prepared for (Thursday),” Yost said. “We started in January and he’s been kicking our butts since then. Everything paid off right now.”
The Canadian flavor in the GISC didn’t stop at the scout from the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
One Missouri Western standout’s Northern roots may provide a pathway to pro football. Defensive back Elroy Douglas was born in Toronto, and even though he spent most of his formative years in Florida, his dual citizenship has drawn interest from around the CFL.
“If the NFL doesn’t work, why not take the CFL opportunity?,” said Douglas, who is draft-eligible for both leagues. “It’s just the NFL of Canada, so I’ll definitely take that route if the NFL doesn’t work.”
Douglas said he had a vertical jump of 33 inches, a 10-foot broad jump and a 4.5-second 40-yard dash — all improvements from the regional combine he attended last weekend in New Orleans.
In 2015, Douglas had one interception (which he returned 40 yards for a touchdown against Missouri Southern), 24 tackles and three passes defended.
Other Western players who performed were defensive back Sam Brown, linebacker Yomi Alli, running back Raphael Spencer and wide receivers Brandynn Clark and Dee Toliver.