Midtown: Sports

Graham tries to impress scouts

T.J. Graham noticed the differences right away between N.C. State’s pro day Wednesday and the NFL Combine in late February.

For one, Graham, a Wakefield graduate, didn’t participate in the 40-yard dash or the bench press, unlike his teammates, during the workouts held for NFL scouts at N.C. State’s practice facility. That’s because he had already run a 40 time of 4.41 and did eight bench-press reps at 225 pounds at the Combine.

Still, Graham said he felt much better performing in front of football scouts this time around.

“I know this place,” Graham said. “I know where to go. I knew when we were going to start. I ate a good dinner last night and a good breakfast. I was just more comfortable.”

Instead of displaying his speed, Graham, a receiver, showed improved ability at running routes, one of the biggest concerns scouts had at the combine.

Graham is projected to be a middle-round pick in April’s NFL Draft.

During his workout, Graham went through many pass patterns and was consistent catching the ball.

“I felt I ran the routes pretty crisp and caught the ball well,” said Graham, who had 46 receptions for 757 yards and seven touchdowns last season. “I’ve been working more on coming out of breaks quicker.”

Since the combine, Graham has practiced at Wakefield High. Knowing a high school field isn’t maintained as well as a college or professional one, Graham focused on maintaining his balance while making cuts during sprints.

“I think trying to keep my footing out there has helped me out here,” he said.

After his workout, Graham mentioned he knows many scouts by their first name, which he hopes will translate into a better position on many teams’ draft boards.

Graham remembers how stressed he felt at the combine in Indianapolis.

“It was really different being in a hotel room by yourself,” he said. “I was paranoid looking at the clock. I didn’t know what to do or where to be.”

Graham was surprised how many scouts were in attendance Wednesday

“This was most I’ve seen out here in a while,” Graham said of the 21 scouts.

Graham also knew the large number of evaluators was an opportunity for others to showcase their skills.

Graham felt fullback Taylor Gentry performed well Wednesday. He is projected by CBSSports.com to go undrafted.

Gentry, a Leesville Road graduate, suffered a season-ending foot injury against Georgia Tech on Oct. 1. His request for another year eligibility was declined by the NCAA last week.

Gentry, who showed good hands with the Wolfpack, signed an agent Monday and is hoping for the best.

Before his injury, Gentry had seven catches for 42 yards and two touchdowns in five games.

“I’ve talked to a decent amount of teams out here,” Gentry said. “I really want to prove I can catch the football. I want to show that I can be a big target and make plays for the quarterback.”