Washington inside linebacker Donald Butler made a strong impression at the Senior Bowl, earning himself a late invitation to the Combine after being passed over initially.
Then he surprised scouts in Indianapolis with his strength; leading all linebackers with 35 repetitions of 225 pounds. A sprained ankle suffered in Mobile kept him out of the rest of the drills, however.
Healthy, Butler helped himself Wednesday in Seattle, running in the high 4.6s to low 4.7s, according to those in attendance, and leading all participants with a 35.5" vertical jump.
While Butler may have solidified his reputation as one of more unheralded inside linebackers of this class, the player who helped himself the most was clearly pass rusher Daniel Te'o-Nesheim.
Scouts (and I, as well) had often characterized Te'o-Nesheim as a try-hard, limited athlete with little to offer NFL teams in terms of upside. He leaves UW as a four-year starter and the team's career leader with 30 sacks. However, he helped his cause with a solid performance at the Combine, ranking among the best defensive linemen in the vertical jump (37), 3-cone drill (6.91) and short shuttle (4.18).
At the Washington Pro Day Wednesday, Te'o-Nesheim proved both bigger (6-3 1/2, 267 pounds) and faster (4.63) that scouts expected.
Considering his straight-line speed and the surprising agility he's shown during drills, a number of teams are beginning to look at Te'o-Nesheim as a rising prospect for the 3-4 rush linebacker position. I felt that he could be successful in this role due to his pass rush ability and instincts. There are few players in the country who play with greater and more consistent hustle and intensity that he did throughout his career.
The Combine and Pro Day drills often identify workout warriors whose film doesn't back up the athleticism they show in shorts.
For Te'o-Nesheim, who I once characterized as a likely priority free agent, the surprising athleticism he's showing during these drills could really boost his stock -- perhaps to the middle rounds.
Seattle, San Diego, Cleveland and Indianapolis were among the teams represented at Washington's Pro Day.