Utah Utes football: Utes strut their stuff for NFL scouts
SALT LAKE CITY — Robert Johnson had Monday circled on his calendar. Utah's "Pro Day" was the safety's primary chance to display his skills to National Football League scouts.
Despite picking off six passes and making 70 tackles last season, the first-team All-Mountain West Conference honoree wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.
"It is what it is," said Johnson, who felt the Utes didn't get the respect they deserved early last season and that may have factored into his lack of an invitation to the combine. "That's OK. It happens. You've just got to take it as it is. I'm still going to be happy and do what I've got to do."
And what he did before the 21 scouts in attendance made a lot of them happy. Johnson ran the three-cone drill and shuttle so well that he was told once was enough.
"I felt I did pretty good," said Johnson, who will work out for the Chicago Bears next month and possibly other teams as well. "(I'll) see what happens."
One thing is for certain, Johnson just wants to play.
"If somebody drafts me, I'm going to go out there and show them the best way I know how to play," he said. "And show them it was worth the draft pick."
Utah assistant coach John Pease, who spent much of his career working in the NFL, acknowledged Johnson has a chance to play at the next level — especially if he gets in a system that will take advantage of his range.
"Robert Johnson has got great deep-field maneuverability," Pease said before downplaying the significance of Johnson not being invited to the combine.
"It's an iffy deal," he explained. "Some of the best players I've ever had didn't go to the combine."
Defensive end Koa Misi, as well as teammates Stevenson Sylvester, Zane Beadles and David Reed, did participate in the NFL gathering. All were on hand for Utah's "Pro Day" as well.
"I felt it went pretty good," said Misi, who improved his times in the shuttle run and "L" drill.
Beadles, Sylvester and Reed also had good showings — as did many of their former Utah teammates.
"We've got a lot of talent out here," Sylvester said. "And everybody, I feel like, did a pretty good job."
"Their times are good. There's a lot of 4.4s, a lot of 4.3s and all that good stuff which makes everybody happy," he said.
Linebacker Mike Wright noted that there's a lot of pressure involved, but players just came out and did their best.
"I wasn't too nervous coming into it," Wright said while noting that he treated it like another game and just tried to stay focused. "It was a fun experience, and hopefully I did good enough to get a shot somewhere."
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