D.J. Moore does not expect to be weighed down by any expectations or pressure.
At 186 pounds – six fewer than he weighed at last month’s NFL scouting combine – the former Vanderbilt defensive back is quick to respond to questions about his speed.
“(Friday), I’ll run faster,” he said. “I know I’ll run faster than what I did up there (at the combine).”
Moore and nine others will participate in Vanderbilt’s pro day on Friday, during which they will be put through the typical series of strength, fitness and speed tests designed to provide insight into their professional potential.
In addition to Moore, safety Reshard Langford, wide receivers Sean Walker and George Smith, quarterback Chris Nickson, defensive backs Jared Fagan and Josh Allen and kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt as well as 2007 seniors Cassen Jackson-Garrison, a running back, and quarterback Richard Kovalcheck will take part.
Langford widely is considered one of the top prospects not invited to the combine, which means his performance will be critical. For Moore, a second-team All-American who left school with a year of eligibility remaining, it will be his second chance to make in impression on scouts, coaches and front-office personnel.
“It’s a big day, I guess, but just another day,” Moore said. “The combine was all right. I’m really just trying to get it over with and get to the whole draft process.”
Moore’s 40-yard dash time at the combine was 4.54 seconds, which was not exactly eye-popping but not particularly damaging either.
NFLDraftScout.com currently rates him as the fifth-best cornerback in this year’s draft, which projects to a late first-round or early second-round.
A strong performance on Friday, particularly in the 40, will increase the likelihood he will be picked in the first round.
Illinois’ Vontae Davis made national headlines when ran a 4.40 in his pro day on Wednesday. Davis already was considered a first-round talent and that display of speed cemented his ranking among the top players available in this draft.
“There’s some people I played against in college who ran lights-out or whatever, and I can guard pretty much anyone,” Moore said.
Where Moore distinguished himself at the combine was in the vertical jump. His 39 ½ inches were third-best among the cornerbacks who participated.
“The only thing I didn’t do (at the combine) was the 60-yard shuttle,” he said. “It was at the end of it and my feet were hurting. … I probably should have just done it.”
He said he has spent the majority of his time since Vanderbilt’s victory in the Music City Bowl training in Penscola, Fla., with roughly two dozen other draft prospects from colleges across the country.
“There was probably about 20-30 guys total when we started,” Moore said. “You have other guys from bigger schools and you can see that you might be better than them or at least cut from the same mold. It’s a good reference point.”
Friday will be his opportunity to distinguish himself.
BRIEFLY: Wide receiver Justin Wheeler said it will be approximately a month before he undergoes reconstructive surgery on his left knee. Wheeler sustained tears to the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments last Saturday. He said doctors told him the MCL will heal on its own, and once that happens the ACL will be rebuilt. He and coach Bobby Johnson both said the hope is that Wheeler will be able to play by mid-season. … Starting safety Ryan Hamilton, VU’s second-leading tackler last season, was held out of Thursday’s workout with a sore back. “He’s got sort of a chronic bad back that flares up every once in a while,” Johnson said. “He played all last season with it. We’re just trying not to make it worse. Ryan doesn’t need lot of reps.” ... Wide receiver Akeem Dunham (shoulder), defensive back Alan Strong (calf), linebacker Michael Garcia (neck) and defensive tackle T.J. Greenstone (knee) also did not participate.