Mitchell, Pierre-Paul on the rise

Carlton Mitchell was reminded of something when he stood and talked with members of the media after USF Pro Day on Tuesday.

“A lot of people – coaches, media – didn’t think I made the right decision,” said Mitchell, referring to his decision to pass on his senior season at USF. “At the same time, the mind is a very powerful thing. I’m a very determined, very focused person.”

While Mitchell, USF’s all-time leader in receiving yards, trained for the future this offseason, he, along with many others, wondered if there was any chance to have his name called in this year’s NFL draft.

But he ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at the NFL combine earlier this month, moving his way up to a potential third-round draft pick. And he did nothing to hurt his stock during Tuesday’s pro day, running a 4.4 40-yard dash in front of 50 representatives from 26 different NFL teams, including a few NFL head coaches.

“I hope I improved my standing,” said Mitchell, whose 6-foot-3, 212-pound frame is a prime measure for a receiver. “…You never know. They can say this guy should be drafted in the first round and they go in the fifth, and guys (that) should be drafted in the second … (can) not get drafted at all.

“I’m prepared for anything.”

Mitchell was part of a record 16 former USF players who worked out at Pro Day. Five Bulls, including Jason Pierre-Paul – who is expected to go early in the first round – could go in the first three rounds. New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith attended the workout.

Pierre-Paul, rated the fourth best player available by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, didn’t run the 40-yard dash. He already ran a solid 4.64 at the combine earlier this month. He still impressed Tuesday in defensive end and linebacker drills, turning in a vertical leap of 31.5 inches and a broad jump of 9.9 feet.

“I just came out here and did what I was supposed to do,” said the 6-foot-6, 266 pound Pierre-Paul, who will likely be USF’s highest drafted player in its history. “…It wasn’t a struggle for me. I just had to do what I usually do on the field. I came out here and played football.”

Pierre-Paul, who had 6.5 sacks last season, is likely a top-10 pick, said Drew Rosenhaus, his agent.

“Pass rushers go high … I’d be stunned if he’s not in the top 10,” said Rosenhaus, who also represents former USF linebacker Kion Wilson and former cornerback Jerome Murphy. “The more time he’s in front of teams, head coaches, general managers, he blows them away. He’s a rare athlete … I think he helped himself a ton (Tuesday) because he went in and did defensive line and linebacker drills. There aren’t too many people who can do that.”

Murphy, Wilson improve time

Murphy and Wilson didn’t do anything to hurt their stock either, as each ran faster 40-yard dashes than in the NFL combine.

Murphy, projected as a third-round pick, ran a 4.51, besting his previous time.

“I think I helped myself today,” Murphy said. “I think my biggest jump was after the Senior Bowl … I showed (scouts) I could cover man-to-man with anybody.”

Wilson, projected anywhere from the fourth round or later, ran a 4.84 after running a 4.85 and 4.88 at the combine.

Allen staying patient

Former safety Nate Allen, still nursing a pulled right quadriceps, didn’t run the 40-yard dash, but he ran the day’s best shuttle times. He also had the day’s best three-cone drill at 6.46 and highest vertical leap at 34.5.”

“The quad started bothering me … I decided to grind through the feeling of it and was able to get the position work in … That was the main thing,” he said.

Kiper rates Allen as the fourth best safety prospect in the country. Allen will have private workouts with the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys this week. He’s not sure when he will run the 40-yard dash.

“I was disappointed I wasn’t able to run because it’s so important,” he said. “But hopefully in the next couple weeks I’ll be able to get that done.”

Grothe takes another step

Perhaps the feel-good story of the day was former USF quarterback Matt Grothe, whose college career ended abruptly when he tore his ACL six months ago during his senior season.

Grothe, who competed in every drill except the bench press, posted a 4.84 40-yard dash and had a 32-inch vertical leap.

“I’ve come a long way in a short time, and I’m proud of myself,” said Grothe, the Big East’s all-time total yards leader. “I’m just going to keep working.”

Grothe worked out with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats two weeks ago and has a workout scheduled with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on April 8.

“(The) CFL (is an option),” Grothe said. “That’s probably the biggest thing right now besides the NFL. I’d love to play either or. Wherever I get an opportunity.”

– Additional reporting by Nick John