Former Laker Judon impresses scouts, coaches at GVSU Pro Day
GVSU's all-time sack leader moving up draft boards after strong performances
GVL / Courtesy - Doug Witte
New York Jets linebacker coach Mark Collins approached Matt Judon immediately following Grand Valley State's Pro Day at the Kelly Family Sports Center on March 15.
Collins clasped Judon's hand.
"You helped yourself today," he said.
After a stellar showing at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine on Feb. 29, Judon's status among NFL scouts was on the rise. His Pro Day showing, in which he performed positional drills in front of roughly 25 scouts, was yet another step up for the standout defensive end.
"I think I helped myself out a little bit," Judon said. "It was kind of tough being the only one out here but it was football, I learned a lot of things and I hope they (saw) good stuff from me."
Judon, who boasted top-five numbers at the combine in the 40-yard dash (4.73 seconds), the vertical jump (35.0 inches) and the 225-pound bench press (30 reps), earned himself in-depth looks from a number of NFL squads.
Last week, Judon had a private workout for the Carolina Panthers. In the near future, Judon is lined up for private workouts with the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints.
"He's done a great job," said GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell. "Everybody that's requested him to do anything, he's done it all and been very humble about it. There's been enough interest in it that I can imagine for him it's looking good."
Though scouts from nearly every NFL team, and a couple CFL teams, were in attendance, four teams demonstrated their heightening level of interest with Judon based on the staff they sent. Most teams sent regional scouts, but the Jets, Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles all sent positional coaches.
The Jets and Titans sent outside linebacker coaches, while the Buccaneers and Eagles sent defensive line coaches. Depending on what team drafts Judon, he could be asked to move to a linebacker despite being a career college lineman.
Though Judon was the main attraction, four of his former GVSU teammates participated to some extent in Pro Day in front of the host of scouts. Running backs Kirk Spencer and Ben Hutchins, and offensive linemen Jim Walsh and Brandon Revenberg all performed at least one drill, though Spencer, Walsh and Revenberg were all hindered by injuries sustained last season.
Once the other four were done, the man of the day took the stage. Judon didn't touch a weight or run for stopwatches, but rather participated in agility, response and obstacle drills as per the requests of the positional coaches.
With few breaks, Judon was going at top speed for long stretches of time. It didn't matter.
"It's real fun. It's football," Judon said. "I love doing it so I come out here every day. Better than being in class, or something, at a day job."
Though Judon's on-field performance during the 2015 season, the combine and Pro Day would suggest a surefire rise in draft stock (and it largely has), the off-field component of the pre-draft process can play heavily into a prospect's draft status.
Judon met privately with a few of the positional coaches behind closed doors after his workouts before meeting with the media.
"Everything is important. When I go home and what I do at night, getting enough sleep, everything is important, so I got to do everything right," he said.
Currently, www.nfldraftstock.com has Judon listed as a fourth-round prospect. If that ranking plays true on draft day, Judon would become the highest-drafted Laker in history. The title is currently held by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr, who was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round in 2008.
GVSU's all-time sack leader, Judon was a Laker for six seasons due to a redshirt and a medical redshirt following a torn ACL in 2013. After the workouts, a group of eight scouts gathered around Judon asking probing questions about the health of his knee. Judon assured them there was nothing to worry about, and his performance would suggest he's spot on.
Regardless of the outcome of his NFL career, Judon will be long considered one of the best players in GVSU program history.
"(GVSU) gave me all the outlets and great facilities like (Kelly Family Sports Center) and they got great staff support and they just put great people around you, really good people around you," he said. "They help you accomplish any goal you set out to achieve."