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Florida Pro Day: Fowler likes idea of Jaguars


GAINESVILLE – Dante Fowler Jr. liked what he showed Tuesday.

But while that was one story from the University of Florida Pro Day Tuesday, as big a theme surrounding the Gators' standout defensive end/linebacker was this:

He likes the idea of playing for the Jaguars very much.

And he thinks there's a pretty good chance that could happen.

"I'd be stunned (if he doesn't get drafted by the Jaguars)," Fowler said late Tuesday morning. "Just because of the (defensive scheme that (Jaguars) (Head) Coach Gus (Bradley) has, just being multiple with a 4-3 and 3-4 (scheme) … I can set the edge (defensively) and come off the edge. I'd be surprised, but that's how the draft goes."

Fowler added, "Jacksonville's great. I'd love to go to Jacksonville."

Fowler (6-feet-3, 265 pounds), widely projected as a likely Top 5 selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, was among 20 Florida players who worked out at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Tuesday morning. Representatives from all 32 teams attended the event, including Jaguars linebackers coach Robert Saleh, defensive assistant Aaron Whitecotton and assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach Doug Marrone along with college scout Tim Mingey.

Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin was the lone head coach attending.

Fowler, who declared for the draft with a year of eligibility remaining, was the clear top prospect working out at the event, which marked the last high-profile on-campus workout of the 2015 Pro Day calendar that started in early March.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, one of the more respected draft analysts, called Fowler special and said he likes him as a "fit for anybody, including (No.) 1."

"I think he and (Southern California defensive end/tackle (Leonard) Williams are the two best defensive players in the draft and I think this kid has special ability," Mayock said. "It's two great football players and you have to see which kid you like better and how it fits your scheme, because they're both really good."

Fowler, projected by many mock drafts as a likely selection for the Jaguars at No. 3 overall in the April 30-May 2 NFL Draft, said he planned to travel to Jacksonville Tuesday afternoon for a pre-draft visit with the Jaguars that will extend to Wednesday. Several other top prospects also are visiting the Jaguars Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We're definitely going to have a day in Jacksonville," he said.

If drafted by the Jaguars, Fowler likely would play the Leo position – a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role with an emphasis on rushing the passer. Fowler said he absolutely knew the definition of a "Leo," and also said he absolutely would be comfortable playing it.

"I'd love it," he said.

Fowler stood on his times and measurables from the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, as did offensive tackle D.J. Humphries, a player Mayock said on Tuesday is certainly a "first-round tackle."

Fowler ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at the combine, with Humphries having run a 5.12.

Fowler, one of five or six pass rushers/defensive ends projected to be selected among the Top 5-to-25 players in the draft, participated in positional drills, with a focus on showing officials and coaches he could play in space as a coverage linebacker in addition to rushing the passer at a high level.

"I wanted to show I was complete," he said.

Mayock said while Fowler primarily will be a pass rusher in the NFL he exhibited good ability in space on Tuesday.

"What he showed is he's athletic and fluid enough if necessary," Mayock said.

Fowler also said he considers himself not only the best pass rusher in the draft, but the "most complete defensive player as far as setting the edge and playing in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme."

"I'm the No. 1 guy," he said, adding, "I'm a playmaker. I'm the guy who's going to go get the quarterback."

Humphries, generally considered likely to be selected somewhere between Nos. 20 and 32 overall, said he has added 22 pounds since the end of the season and is now at what he considers a comfortable 307 pounds. Adding and maintaining weight was a top pre-draft priority, he said.

"I think that will be the next step," he said. "I have to prove I can maintain the weight for a whole season. I've had it on for a while now, since about mid-January. It's been sticking to me."

Humphries said he wanted to show coaches and scouts on Tuesday that his weight was "realistic."

"I wanted to show I could add the weight and still move the same way," he said.

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