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Nebraska Pro Day: Gregory, Abdullah impressive


LINCOLN, Neb. – The marquee name had more than times on his mind.

So, potential Top 5 selection and potential elite pass rusher Randy Gregory didn't worry about running the 40-yard dash Thursday at the 2015 University of Nebraska Pro Day.

Running back Ameer Abdullah – the second-rated player at a talent-laden on-campus workout at the Hawks Championship Indoor Center – did run the 40, and a few other players did, too. But those were secondary stories.

Gregory, an outside linebacker/defensive end whose stock has shifted and swayed during the pre-draft process, was unquestionably the primary story – and his presence made Thursday one of the biggest days of the first week of the 2015 Pro Day season.

Gregory's focus Thursday wasn't the 40, or even his weight. He wanted to show NFL teams he could play the linebacker position – any linebacker position.

By day's end, he believed he had.

"My pitch to teams is I feel like if you draft me there are more things I can do than just rush the passer," Gregory after a two-hour workout at the indoor facility on the University of Nebraska campus in Lincoln. "A lot of guys are drafted for one specific role. I feel like they can mold me into any player they want.

"I think I showed that today and I think I showed it at the combine. Hopefully, they agree with me."

Gregory, who measured at 6-feet-4½ Thursday, weighed in at 238 pounds on Thursday. That's up three pounds from the 235 pounds he weighed at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February.

His combine weight prompted concern and some criticism from draft analysts, with many saying afterward he needed to add significant strength and weight to play effectively at the NFL level. Gregory said at the combine that he had lost about eight pounds because of a stomach virus in the days leading to the combine.

He also had run a 4.64 40-yard dash at the combine, a time with which he had expressed disappointment. But he opted to stand on that 40 time on Thursday and also opted to stand on the 24 repetitions he did at the combine in the 225-pound bench press.

Instead, Gregory opted on Thursday to focus on the cone and agility drills – work he missed at the combine because of cramps – to showcase his athleticism. He went through the drills shirtless, displaying quickness and agility and impressing scouts from 26 teams – including the Jaguars – gathered at the event.

Afterward, Gregory expressed a preference for the linebacker position and said his objective Thursday and throughout the offseason was to show teams he could play any linebacker position – whether it be strong- or weak-side, or in a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive scheme.

"I honestly feel a little more confident with that – you get that natural athletic stance, and get to show your athleticism," he said. "I'm always excited to do linebacker drills and I thought I did well."

Gregory, who registered 17.5 sacks in two seasons at Nebraska, declared his eligibility for the draft with a year of eligibility remaining. He was widely considered the top pass rusher available after the college season and before the combine, with many mock drafts projecting him No. 3 to the Jaguars during that period.

But Florida defensive end/linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., and Clemson linebacker Vic Beasley each impressed at the combine, with most mocks now projecting Fowler as the top edge rusher in the draft and Beasley being mocked ahead of Gregory at times.

"I think you have to put all this underwear stuff away and go back and watch the film," Gregory's agent, Deryk Gilmore, said. "That's what the good teams do."

Gilmore and Gregory each said Gregory answered any questions adequately at the combine and Pro Day, with Gregory saying teams on Thursday essentially told him, "The same thing as at the combine, that I have great gifts and I can do a wide range of different things."

Also on Thursday, Abdullah made a move to improve his draft stock, running a 40-yard dash that scouts clocked between the high 4.4-second and mid 4-5-second-range. He had run a 4.6 40 at the combine.

Abdullah is projected by many as the No. 3 running back in the draft class behind Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin and Todd Gurley of Georgia, and is projected to be drafted in the second or third round.

"I'm a competitor," Abdullah said of his decision to run the 40 again Thursday. "I like to compete, and any time you can get in front of scouts and the professional eye to show what you can do you should take advantage of the opportunity.

"I didn't do everything today, but I felt like I came out there and did what I wanted to do and wanted to show."

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