The chips on the shoulders of Rahim Moore and Akeem Ayers have grown and grown and grown, and they looked like they were about to burst out on Tuesday afternoon.
Both had one last major showcase for NFL scouts at Spaulding Field for UCLA’s Pro Day, and both felt like they addressed some of the concerns that have been labeled on them.
Ayers had to deal with worries caused by a poor performance at the NFL Combine, a showing that raised some concern about his speed. After running both of his 40-yard-dashes at the combine in the 4.8s, Ayers was clocked at anywhere from 4.69 to the mid 4.7s on Monday and improved in his bench press and vertical jump, which measured at 34 1/2 inches.
“For a football player, you look at the film, you can see what I can do,” the former UCLA all-conference linebacker said. “Obviously I’m not on the field running a 4.8. If you look at the film, you just see what type of football player I am and gauge from there. At the end of the day, turn on the film, watch me play, see what I can do as a football player, which is what I’m going to be doing on Sundays with whichever team drafts me.”
To his credit, Ayers did not dodge questions about his combine performance and accepted the criticisms on his game. But he also spent nearly a month trying to address those critiques, and he drew rave reviews from scouts during his individual workouts.
“It was just something I should have prepared myself better for,” Ayers said about the combine. “It wasn’t that I didn’t work hard. I did everything I could. It’s more that I needed to prepare myself better mentally and physically, as far as recovering. … I think I did well (today). I improved all my numbers. Hopefully the scouts out here see how hard I worked and how much I want to compete to get better.”
Moore, meanwhile, showed up at Pro Day weighing 207 pounds, up five from the NFL Combine in late-February, and improved his bench press from 11 reps at 225 pounds to 16. After running unofficial 40-yard-dash times of 4.53 and 4.62 at the combine, Moore chose to focus on his strength and agility training, deciding not to run the 40.
“Sometimes I feel like people underestimate me,” said Moore, a two-time All-American at safety for the Bruins, though pro scouts have inquired about his ability to play cornerback.
“Some people think I’m weak, which is fine with me because it makes me work harder. I want to be the underdog, I want to be underrated. I want to be underestimated. It brings the best out of me. I’m fine where I am.”
Moore is currently slated in the mid-second round in most mock drafts, but an NFL scout from a team drafting in the late first round showed intense interest in Moore after he completed his drills at Pro Day.
“I wanted to show them I could move and that I am what I am, I’m a safety-slash-corner,” Moore said. “I did my best at the combine and did my best here.”