AUBURN — There are always a few surprises when the NFL issues its invites to the annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which was last week.
The inclusions of former Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen were certainties. Running back Onterio McCalebb turned a few a heads given his small stature, but he proved his value when he turned in an unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.21 seconds (which would have broken the combine record, but it was changed to an official time of 4.34 seconds).
The omission of former Tigers wide receiver Emory Blake was perhaps the biggest surprise for Auburn followers.
Despite facing constant double-teams and a merry-go-round at quarterback, Blake caught 50 passes for 789 yards with three touchdowns last season for Auburn.
Blake will have the opportunity to showcase his talents and prove doubters wrong as he’ll be one of 14 former Tigers to participate in Auburn’s pro day this morning.
Daren Bates, T’Sharvan Bell, DeAngelo Benton, Chandler Brooks, Jonathan Evans, A.J. Greene, Lemonier, Lutzenkirchen, McCalebb, Philip Pierre-Louis, Travante Stallworth, John Sullen and Nate Taylor also will attend today’s workouts.
“I was a little surprised because I thought I would be invited (to the combine),” Blake said. “But I got to make the best out of my situation, and my focus is on going towards (today).”
After the end of the season, Blake took part in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 19 in St. Petersburg, Fla., in which he had one reception for eight yards. The Austin, Texas, native said he has been training in Dallas under former Indianapolis Colts defensive back Melvin Bullitt to improve his speed and strength.
“I’ve got decent size, but I’ve really been working on getting stronger and not just being big,” said Blake, who was listed at 6-2 and 193 pounds for Auburn last season. “I’ve leaned up, but I’ve gained more muscle.”
Speed is where Blake will try to validate his potential to scouts today as he aims to run “in the 4.4s, low 4.5” in the 40-yard dash. By comparison, former Texas wide receiver and Olympic track star Marquise Goodwin turned in a combine-best 4.27 second 40 time, while Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope (4.34) and Michigan’s Denard Robinson (4.43) also had strong showings.
“For me, I feel like my 40 time is going to be very important,” Blake said. “I feel like if I run a good time there, a lot of people will change their minds what they think about my speed.
“I believe the scouts know I’m a great route-runner, and I can catch the ball. Those are some of the things I’m going to display because I believe those are some of my strengths as well. I’m definitely going to harp on that and try to do my best in that area.”
The possibilities for where Blake and his former Auburn teammates could end up during the NFL draft April 25-27 in New York vary greatly, with Lemonier expected be the first former Tiger selected, likely sometime
during the second or third rounds.
“I’ve been hearing anywhere from I’m a fourth-round pick to a free agent,” Blake said.
“It probably depends on how I do, and we’ll see what happens after that.”