INDIANAPOLIS, IN--A pair of former Rutgers football stars are one step closer to realizing their dreams of turning pro after participating in the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis over the weekend of February 27-28.
Former Scarlet Knights wide receiver Leonte Carroo and inside linebacker Steve Longa took part in the annual combine, where hundreds of draft prospects look to improve their draft stock by interviewing with and working out for NFL scouts and coaches.
Carroo has long been viewed as a future NFL impact player, and did his part to make that happen over the weekend.
He measured in at 6'0" and 211 pounds, leading NFL.com to remark that Carroo "has ideal NFL size."
The former Rutgers wideout ranked in the middle of the pack during strength tests, completing 14 reps on the bench press, tying him for 14th among 36 competitors.
Carroo made a better impression during the all-important 4o-yard dash, clocking in at 4.50 seconds. His time tied him for 11th among 37 receivers, tying him with notable names like TCU's Josh Doctson and Ohio State's Braxton Miller.
Going into the weekend, there was some concern about Carroo's September 2015 domsestic violence arrest outside Rutgers stadium, and other percieved character issues.
The star receiver was suspended twice during the season, first receiving a half-game suspension for missing curfew. Later, he received a suspension that lasted two games after he was charged with simple assault after an altercation following a loss to Washington State in September.
However, the assault charge was later dismissed and Carroo is ready to put that situation in the rear view mirror. Speaking to the Asbury Park Press, Carroo expressed confidence in how he handled questions about the suspension.
“I don’t think that will be an issue at all, being that [NFL scouts and coaches] finally got to hear from me and put a face with the name and just to talk to me about it," Carroo said. "I think it made them feel more comfortable."
While Carroo performed fairly well at the Combine, Longa did not have the same success.
The linebacker, who opted to forgo his senior season to declare for the NFL draft, ran just a 4.78 second 40-yard dash, 20th among 31 linebackers. He had better results at the bench press, completing 19 reps, tying him for 11th out of 28.
Longa found himself in the middle of the pack in the vertical jump and broad jump drills, but struggled mightily in his agility drills, finishing last in the three cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 40-yard shuttle.
Despite the low scores on some drills, Longa expressed confidence in his performance, and said he thinks he improved his draft stock when speaking to NJ.com.
"I feel like it went as good as it possibly could," Longa said. "Some of the numbers that came out, I thought I was testing better before. But I've still got pro day so I'm not really worried about it."
After leaving college early, it is not terribly surprising to see Longa struggle at the combine, but his Rutgers career showed he is an apt tackler and pass rusher, making him a good candidate for a chance at the pros.
Experts can not seem to come to a consensus on when the two men might be selected in the upcoming NFL draft, where pro teams take turns picking college players, but several teams expressed an interest in Carroo at the combine.
According to Asbury Park Press, he conducted official interviews with the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, and Cleveland Browns. He also had informal meetings with the New York Giants and New York Jets.
Up next for the pair of draft prospects is Rutgers' Pro Day on Wednesday, March 9, where NFL scouts will come to Piscataway to see Carroo, Longa, and the rest of the draft-eligible Scarlet Knights work out and attempt to improve their draft stock.