GAINESVILLE -- Former Gators defensive tackle Dominique Easley wowed NFL scouts Thursday during a private pro day, dismissing concerns over his health following multiple knee surgeries during his four-year career in Gainesville.
Easley -- who tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee in a practice late last September -- worked out yards from the same place he sustained the non-contact knee injury in The Swamp, impressing dozens of league representatives with his quickness, power, agility, fluidity and competitive fire.
“I felt great,” said Easley, all-smiles following his workout.
“That’s just me. I like to work past expectations. I don’t like being down. That’s just who I am as a person. [I showed scouts] that I can move. That I still got the quickness. That I still got the get-off and I still got my tenacity.”
Representatives from the Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns were among those in attendance, while Chicago Bears defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni led the workout alongside Florida head coach Will Muschamp.
“Outstanding five months out of surgery,” Muschamp said of Easley’s half-hour session.
“I was shocked how quick he was, his lateral change of direction, all the stuff he’s able to do. It doesn’t shock me in terms of his work ethic and what he’s willing to do to get himself ready.”
Easley, who rehabbed three times a day, everyday with trainer Tony Villani in Boca Raton, pegged his current knee strength at “about 80 percent” but expects to be 100 percent by July mini-camps.
The former All-SEC standout also noted he trained with ex-Gators and current Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey in South Florida.
Charged with a relentless motor and explosive first-step, the undersized tackle (6-2, 285 pounds) was tabbed as the nation’s ninth-best overall prospect just six months ago, according to ESPN draft guru Todd McShay.
But following a second ACL tear in three years, the dominant interior lineman saw his stock plummet.
After a long road to recovery, Easley isn’t concerned with draft projections and is simply ready to prove he’s worth the risk whenever he’s selected.
“I don’t really pay any attention to [the projections],” Easley said. “Everybody know how I play. Everybody seen my passion for the game, my love for it. That stuff don’t matter to me.”
Meanwhile, his former college coach believes teams would be foolish to pass on such a talent.
"You want him in your locker room,” Muschamp said, emphatically.
“He's a really good player, but I think his competitive edge is a huge talent. It's probably his No. 1 talent. A bunch of the coaches and scouts came to me afterward and said, 'We understand what you're talking about.' We got out there and we put him through a tough workout. … We made it difficult on purpose. It was good for them to see that because when it gets tough, that's when he's at his best."
Easley acknowledged the mental hurdle of a second knee injury was rough, but motivated by his 18-month-old son, Dominique Easley Jr., he decided quickly he didn’t have time to feel sorry for himself.
“I don't expect sympathy from anybody,” Easley said. “Life isn't about sympathy. You got to get through what you got to get through. Ain't no time to be crying about something. You've got mouths to feed. That's how I look at life. I've got a mouth to feed. If I cry, he's going to cry for not having food. I can't let that happen."
Easley, who won’t participate in any private workouts, starts seven straight days of team visits Sunday before May’s (8-10) NFL Draft.
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