AUBURN — Corey Lemonier already had an impressive workout at last week’s NFL Combine, clocking in tied for third fastest among defensive ends in the 40-yard dash. With little left to prove, Lemonier took part in mostly positional drills during Auburn’s Pro Day workouts Tuesday, which included 13 other former Tigers as scouts from 23 NFL teams watched.
“I think I did pretty good with the linebacker drills and looking athletic out there,” Lemonier said. “I can definitely move on to play linebacker, (defensive) end it really doesn’t matter.”
Lemonier, who had 34 tackles and 5½ sacks last season for Auburn, had a 34-inch vertical leap, a one-inch improvement from his Combine performance. He has been training at a Phoenix mixed martial arts gym to improve his flexibility and pass rush techniques.
Lemonier said teams have asked him about last season both on the team level and his personal performance. After recording five sacks in the first four games, Lemonier recorded just ½ sack in the final eight games.
“I basically told them that coming into the season we had a dark cloud over our heads with the shooting and players getting arrested and we didn’t have the talent to matchup with teams in the SEC,” Lemonier said. “It wasn’t character, our motivation was still there, but it was a lack of talent. … (I was) getting chipped and double-teamed (as the season went on). I don’t want to sound like ‘poor me.’ It’s just something that happens, part of the game.”
It was just like the old days for Emory Blake. The former Auburn wide receiver was lining up and watching passes from his father, Jeff Blake, during Pro Day.
“I remember being able to go to practice with my dad and catching balls from all the quarterbacks,” Emory said. “They would try to throw it to me soft and he’d be like ‘go ahead just throw it to him. He’ll catch it.’ I was about eight years old catching NFL balls.”
For the biggest job interview of his football career, Emory, who was not invited to the NFL Combine, turned to his father, who also threw to tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen while wide receivers coach and former Tigers quarterback Dameyune Craig threw to other receivers who were among the 14 players taking part in Tuesday’s workouts.
“I’ve been throwing it to him for a very long time,” Jeff Blake said. “Somebody had to help me get ready for the seasons when I played, so he was my receiver during the offseason. … This will probably be the last time I have this opportunity to throw like that. Arm will probably go on the shelf after today.”
Emory ran an unofficial 4.62-second 40 time, off his goal of the “low 4.5s.” Only three receivers who took part in the Combine came in slower times than Blake.
“I’m slightly disappointed because I’ve ran faster before, and I could have done a better job, but there’s nothing I can do about it now,” he said. “I did my best today, and I felt like I still had a solid day.”
Blake, who made 50 catches for 789 yards with three touchdowns last season, had a 10-foot broad jump and 36.5 inch vertical jump, which was the same as Georgia’s Tavarres King and Michigan’s Denard Robinson.
Jeff Blake said his son is a “football player” and NFL general managers would want a player like Emory.
“You look at some of the top NFL players. They aren’t blazing fast,” Jeff Blake said. “Anquan Boldin’s no blazing fast; Brandon Stokley’s not blazing fast. … You can put (Emory) in a position where he has to catch the ball at the end of the football game to win it and he’ll catch it.”
Former Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb was the talk of the NFL Combine for his blistering 40-yard dash time, clocking in an unofficial 4.21 seconds, which would have broken the Combine record but was later revised to an official 4.34 seconds. Though unofficial, McCalebb improved his 40-time, coming it at 4.29 seconds Tuesday.
“At the Combine, I was telling everybody that I’m trying to go for the record,” said McCalebb, who had 94 carries for 570 yards with six
touchdowns and 18 receptions for 132 yards last season.
McCalebb improved his vertical from 34 inches at the Combine to 37 inches and weighed in one pound heavier (169 pounds). He had 10 bench press reps which would have ranked worst among running backs at the Combine.
His speed is what makes McCalebb a viable NFL special teams player but his size is a concern at the pro level. He said he’s trying to get up to 180-185 pounds.
“It is about size but once I get to the next level I have time to put weight on,” he said. “It’s all about the heart, I played in the SEC for four years, I missed two games when I was a freshman and played every single game after that. That right there can show you I have toughness.
“My main goal right now is to gain weight. I’m always going to be fast.”
McCalebb also took part in defensive back drills. Though he played cornerback in high school, it had been a long time for McCalebb to back pedal.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said the Tigers’ coaches tried to get McCalebb to add weight for years.
“I think we tried since we’ve been here and he’s gotten a little bit heavier but he’s put together well,” Malzahn said. “He’s tough, he’s a physical guy and he’s fearless and that’ll go a long way.”
Still recovering from hip surgery from four months ago, Lutzenkirchen ran an unofficial 4.96 seconds in the 40-yard dash, .02 seconds slower than his Combine time.
“I know I’m never going to be a blazer in the 40 running a 4.5 or anything,” Lutzenkirchen said.”Think game speed and film speed is a lot different than your 40 speed. I feel prepared, played in the best conference for four years, started for three so I feel good about everything.
“There’s Combine guys and then there’s tape guys and I think I’m definitely one of those tape guys.”
Jeff Blake threw passes to Lutzenkirchen as well.
“A couple of times he told me good catch and I was like ‘that’s probably one of the best balls I’ve seen in a long time,’” Lutzenkirchen said. “He can still wing it. I used to have a Jeff Blake Cincinnati Bengals bobble head so that was pretty cool to catch from him.”
Daren Bates ran an unofficial 4.53 40, which would have been 2nd best among LBs at Combine, tied for 5th among safeties with LSU’s Eric Reid. … Bates did 15 bench press reps and Jonathan Evans did 13. The two former starting linebackers would have placed last among linebackers at the Combine. … A.J. Greene had 25 bench reps and former startling left guard John Sullen had only three. … Malzahn said the new staff is looking to do more team building activities to build relationships with the players. The team competed in bowling a few days ago.
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