Former Cyclones will get a chance at an opportunity that was taken away last season on Tuesday: A chance to show out for NFL scouts at a Pro Day.
Iowa State's Pro Day for its 2019 senior class was not held last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving NFL hopefuls with very limited resources to show their skills for the pros.
Tuesday offers a chance for that to all be rectified.
It was announced that some Cyclones who didn't get an opportunity to have a Pro Day last spring would be able to participate Tuesday, including 2019 seniors Marcel Spears Jr., Deshaunte Jones, Jamahl Johnson, Amechie Walker and Braxton Lewis.
The NFL announced in January there would be no 2021 Scouting Combine, leaving all on-field workouts to be conducted at on-campus pro days. Without a regulated combine environment, the league sent out a memo to teams making sure on-campus pro days will have uniform drills and settings to be able to fairly compare data from players.
For players like JaQuan Bailey, Kene Nwangwu and Dylan Soehner, a Pro Day will serve as a chance to get closer to reaching their NFL dreams, something Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell said is something players who work as hard as them deserve after the challenges of this past college football season.
“Those are three names of three guys that we all feel have an opportunity to play at the next level and all guys that can truly benefit from [an NFL] Pro Day where they’ve got the opportunity, especially in this unique year where you didn’t have scouts that were able to come to practice and maybe see these guys perform, and to be able to have that occur live is really big and obviously we're really excited for them," Campbell said March 2.
Here's an overview of the former Cyclones who will get a chance to show their skills for NFL scouts Tuesday.
The Cyclones' all-time career sack leader (25.5) and tackles for loss (44.5) will be one of the bigger names who will participate in the Pro Day.
Named a First Team All-American defense by the Football Writers Association of America, Bailey has gotten most of the national recognition of the Cyclones attending Tuesday's Pro Day.
Bailey's skills as a pass rusher have been clear in his Iowa State career, which makes a Pro Day even more important for him to try and back up stats with solid measurables for scouts.
Bailey missed his senior season in 2019 after breaking his foot, but got a redshirt and came back and performed at an elite level for the 2020 season.
Soehner, a two-time Honorable Mention All-Big 12 tight end, earned a formal invitation to the NFL Combine. While the combine isn't happening, an invite shows that Soehner is seen as one of the higher favored Cyclones going into the draft process by some teams.
The 6-foot, 6-inch, 272-pound tight end served in a blocking role more than anything in his years as a Cyclone, with Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen receiving most of the receiving duties. NFL teams are using tight ends more and more in their offensive schemes, which leaves Soehner in a good spot to earn more attention with his potential skills as a pass catcher and blocker.
In 2019, Soehner started six of 12 games he played in, earning Honorable Mention All-Big 12 with seven catches for 107 yards and one touchdown.
He started 10 of Iowa State's 11 games during the 2020 season, where he finished his final season with 18 catches for 205 yards.
Nwangwu was an effective kick returner for the Cyclones last season, being named a Fourth Team All-American kick returner by Phil Steele and ending his career as Iowa State's leading kickoff returner, averaging 26.8 yards per return.
Nwangwu served as Breece Hall's backup last season, so he's shown the ability to also serve as a secondary option in the backfield. He played in all 12 games with one start and was third on the team in rushing yards (339) and rushing touchdowns (four), averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
His biggest promise at a Pro Day could come in his 40-yard dash time, where he can show his speed. Nwangwu ranked third in the Big 12 and seventh nationally (minimum of 10 returns) in kickoff return average at 28.9 last season, where he had five returns of 30 or more yards, including two of 65 yards or longer.
His potential as a special teams threat and committee running back could serve him well at a Pro Day.
Akers is one of the former Cyclones participating who could benefit from a Pro Day the most. Even though he played in all 12 games, registering five starts last season and ending third on the team in receiving yards (269), he still hasn't received enough national attention to turn pro teams' heads. A Pro Day could change that.
Akers served as a special teams player at times where he made some big plays during the 2020 season with his speed on the outside.
A Pro Day could be the chance Akers needs to earn more attention on his skillset.
As Iowa State's starting free safety, White was an anchor of the secondary last season. He started all 12 games and ended his final season fourth on the team with 60 total tackles, including 40 solo tackles.
His skills as an aggressive ballhawk showed at times, with White recording 1.5 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, two pass breakups and an interception.
The Bakersfield, California, native is listed at 6-foot, 196 pounds, which fits around the average build of an NFL defensive back.
With proper Pro Day measurements and after a season with strength and conditioning coach Dave Andrews, White could have a chance for different numbers that could catch the attention of NFL evaluators.