A trio of skill position prospects stood out at Northern Illinois' Pro Day on Friday, which was viewed by representatives from roughly have the NFL's 32 teams even though the Huskies didn't have a single prospect invited to last month's Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Catching passes from former NIU star and current Indianapolis Colts quarterback Chandler Harnish, wideouts Martel Moore (6-feet, 188 pounds) and Perez Ashford (5-10, 190) sparkled. Both caught the ball well, which was impressive in itself considering the workout was performed in a somewhat dimly lit recreation center.
Moore, who led the Huskies with 75 catches for 1,083 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2012, is considered the better prospect, though his workout wasn't quite as impressive as the faster Ashford. Moore was timed twice in the mid 4.5s in the 40-yard dash and posted a 35-inch vertical, a league source told NFLDraftScout.com.
Ashford, on the other hand, ran the 40 three times with an average of 4.48 and had a 35.5 vertical. He appeared poised to enjoy a big senior season after a breakout junior year in which he earned Second Team All-MAC honors, but was hampered by an ankle injury that limited him to just 34 catches for 373 yards and one touchdown. Ashford is an experienced punt returner, and is likely to at least get opportunities as a free agent.
While Moore was a touch slower in drills, he showed the quickness in and out of his breaks during positional drills that helped him be so productive in 2012 and makes him the more likely of the two to be selected.
The best all-around workout, however, may have been turned in by lanky 6-2, 192-pound cornerback Rashaan Melvin, a four-year starter who broke the NIU single-season record with 17 passes broken up in 2012.
Melvin, who officially measured in at 6-1 3/4, ran better than expected clocking in at 4.46 seconds. He also posted a 38-inch vertical jump. He was unable to perform in the bench press drill due to a labrum injury suffered in the Huskies' 31-10 loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Like the receivers he used to cover in practice each day, Melvin showed impressive fluidity and body control during the positional workout. With bigger cornerbacks all the rage in the NFL, Melvin likely secured a day three selection with his strong performance.
According to NFLDraftScout.com records, no NIU defensive back has ever been selected in the current seven-round NFL Draft. The last Husky defensive back to be selected at any point in the draft came in 1990 when the Houston Oilers selected safety Brett Tucker with the 18th selection of the eighth round.
Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for www.NFLDraftScout.com, published by The Sports Xchange.