Clemson’s Cain having a blast being under NFL’s microscope
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — For Clemson receiver Deon Cain, there’s nothing tedious about all the timing and testing at the NFL scouting combine.
“It’s a great feeling because I’m starting to get into this professional life and I’m loving it every day,” Cain said.
Cain impressed coaches Saturday with his superior speed and great hands, traits that were particularly apparent in the gauntlet drill at Lucas Oil Stadium.
That’s where receivers stand on one sideline, spin and catch a pass from 10 yards away, then spin and catch one from the other direction. Then, they sprint toward the other sideline, catching five more 10-yard passes from alternating directions before coming back the other way, catching another seven throws.
While Cain was eager to show off his skills Saturday during the on-field sessions with quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends, he said he’s actually enjoyed every aspect of the annual gathering of top college prospects.
“This combine experience has been fun for me. At the end of the day, I love every moment about it,” Cain said. “Just trying to take everything day by day, going through this process, talking to coaches, meeting new people, being around Hall of Famers every day.”
Cain had a goal of running a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash after all the speed work he did over the last six weeks at the Exos performance center in Phoenix, where he added 10 pounds of lean muscle to his 6-foot-1 frame.
He did just that, posting a time of 4.3 seconds Saturday before showing off his route-running skills during the hour-long session that included top-tier quarterbacks Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson .
“I feel like Exos really prepared me for this moment,” said Cain, who also posted respectable jumps — 33½ inches in the vertical and 9 feet, 7 inches in the broad. “We train hard, train well with great efficiency, prepping me for interviews and everything. I feel like they gave us the upper hand, the answers to the test out here and now it’s just a routine.
“I’m out here trying my best out here and just trying to do what I know I’m capable of doing.”
Cain, a projected second-day draft pick, played three seasons at Clemson and was productive receiver for a team that made three playoff appearances and played in two national championship games.
Cain played in only one of those national championship games. After the regular season of his freshman year, he was suspended for the College Football Playoff by Tigers coach Dabo Swinney for failing a drug test for marijuana.
Knowing that would come up in interviews with teams this week, Cain prepared to face the scrutiny with honesty, eager to show that’s not an issue teams need to worry about.
“It’s been great so far, really just getting to know all the coaches, let them get a good feel of me, and just show them that I’m smart off the field, smart on the field and I know football both ways, and really just let them get feel of me,” Cain said.
On the field, he said he’s showing teams he’s versatile, coachable and confident yet humble.
“I can do it all. If you want me to play inside, outside. If you want me to go down and block, I can do anything. I said I’m capable of doing anything,” he said.
And he pledged to never stop trying to improve.
“Now that I’m going on to the next level, I always want to be better and more technically sound because now you’re just going against way better DBs now,” Cain said.
Whoever picks him, he said, will “get an efficient, hard worker, someone who will go hard every play. I’m just going to be me out there, as long as they let me be me and coach me the right way, they’re going to get a great receiver.”
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