LINCOLN — Kyler Reed watched parts of the NFL Combine last month, but the former Nebraska tight end said he usually pays attention at least a little most years anyway.
Ben Cotton had the NFL Network telecast on some, too, specifically to see how the tight ends were testing out.
“I paid attention to the numbers, so that once I was done here I could kind of compare the way me and Kyler did,” Cotton said Thursday.
Reed and Cotton weren't among the 20 tight ends invited to Indianapolis, so the two had to use the Huskers' pro day to show off for NFL scouts. After going through the same battery of tests, both felt Thursday as if they had done what they needed to do.
“It basically makes it so you have one shot, and that's what it comes down to,” Reed said.
Reed turned heads with a 41-inch vertical jump, higher than any tight end reached at the NFL Combine. His 40-yard dash time was in the 4.42 range, which would have put him right there with Chris Gragg of Arkansas and Alabama's Michael Williams — the only tight ends to go sub-4.6 at the Combine.
Because the tight ends at the Combine weighed anywhere from 230 to 269 pounds, the 225-pound Reed tried to compare himself only with those closer to his size.
“I think if you look at my film people knew my skill set was running,” Reed said. “Obviously most of the tight ends out there are bigger than me, but the guys that were more in the 230 range ... I maybe did a little better than them or at par.”
Cotton is one of those who goes larger, checking in around 255. He was unsure of his time Thursday, but sounded as if he liked how it would have stacked up with the bigger tight ends.
“I was very happy with my 40. It felt fast,” Cotton said. “I think I was faster than a lot of people expected, which is good. I know that definitely would help my case.”
Cotton and Reed also went through some route-running before scouts from 12 NFL teams — catching passes from former NU quarterback Joe Ganz — although Reed shut down early when his hamstring tightened up.
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Cotton is an established blocker, but knew the position drills would be important for a four-year regular who caught just 40 career passes.
“I'm naturally a big guy, so I'm glad I could get out there and show them I can run around,” he said. “I can move, I can explode in routes, I catch the ball with my hands in the open field, stuff like that.”
In the bench press, Reed did 19 reps at 225 pounds and Cotton finished with 17. The tight ends at the Combine mostly were between 17 and 22, although Vance McDonald of Rice did 31.
Reed also was sharp in the pro agility run (4.01 seconds) and three-cone drill (6.6). The vertical jump was better than the NU position record of 38˝ inches, but won't count as a school record because he's no longer playing.
The two former NU tight ends joined linebacker Will Compton and defensive end Eric Martin as those appearing to make the most of Husker pro day. Compton ran 4.54 in the 40, posted a 32-inch vertical and did 24 bench reps.
The trio of former Huskers who attended the NFL Combine — I-back Rex Burkhead, kicker Brett Maher and safety Daimion Stafford — went through differing amounts of drills. Burkhead only officially ran the 40, clocking in the 4.5s after going 4.73 at the Combine.
“Really good day,” he said.
Burkhead at least had the luxury of going before the scouts in Indianapolis first. Knowing the situation Thursday, Reed said he woke up a little nervous and excited, comparing it to a game day.
To take pressure off himself, Cotton said he tried to remember NU head coach Bo Pelini telling him “95 percent of your résumé is already complete,” referring to game film from their Husker careers.
“Today was more kind of going out there and giving it your best shot, and see if you can help yourself out a little bit,” Cotton said. “I hope that I did that.”
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