Thirty teams arrived Friday morning for Northern Illinois' Pro Day, which featured athletic safety Jimmie Ward. When the percentage of teams that attend a pro day reaches that threshold, we can assume that the Cincinnati Bengals were one of them.
Ward (5-foot-10, 197) sat out during the NFL Combine last month after discovering a stress fraction in his right foot. With surgery planned next week, Ward felt strong enough to participate during drills on Friday to show NFL scouts something. Ward's recovery for next week's surgery is expected to be between six to eight weeks.
"He delivered a vertical leap of 38 inches, a broad jump of 101/2 feet and officially ran the 40-yard dash in a head-turning 4.45 seconds," writes the Chicago Tribune.
CBS Sports analyzes:
A Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist as a senior, Ward was all over the field in 2013, leading the team in tackles with 92, including a whopping 62 solo stops. He was also one of the nation's best ball-hawking safeties with seven interceptions and 10 pass break-ups. What separates Ward from other undersized prospects is his versatile skill set and training to play any position in the defensive backfield. His versatility should be highly appealing to NFL teams and may even draw higher grades for Ward than expected.
ESPN and Mocking the Draft ranks Ward as the third-best safety in this year's NFL draft.
Baltimore Ravens secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo watched Ward with particular interest, writes Aaron Wilson with the Baltimore Sun.
The Ravens are expected to shift Matt Elam from free safety to his natural strong safety position and would like to acquire a play-making centerfielder to work in tandem with Elam, whose strong suits are his tackling and blitzing capabilities.
Lions defensive backs coach Alan Williams was also on hand.
Quarterback Jordan Lynch also drew a crowd, however teams were more interested in seeing him conduct running back and safety drills. Lynch impressed scouts during the NFL Combine, with a time of 6.55 on the three-cone drills -- faster than any quarterback... and any running back.
"A few teams really like me at running back, and I did some safety footwork drills today out of the blue and got some positive feedback there," Lynch said via CBSLocal. "They said I have nice feet, quick feet."
According to reports, Lynch ultimately conducted quarterback drills on Friday and showed good arm strength. But his accuracy was off with one observer noting that "even the accurate passes looked a bit wobbly."