The Kent State University Pro Day isn't typically a hotbed for NFL coaches and scouts.
That wasn't the case last month, though, when representatives from 24 NFL teams and one CFL team came to watch drills at the KSU Fieldhouse. Those 24 teams were there to see versatile offensive lineman Brian Winters.
Winters (6-4, 320) had to cut his workouts short at the NFL Scouting Combine in February because of a strained pectoral muscle – which he says now is 100 percent healed – so teams wanted to get a good second look at a player expected to go off the board sometime on Day 2 of the draft later this month.
"It was awesome," Winters told detroitlions.com of the turnout for his Pro Day while on a pre-draft visit with the Lions Wednesday.
"Obviously what happened at the combine wasn't good, so to bounce back and see everyone come to watch for the pro day was a great thing and I'm very appreciative of that all."
Winters began his college career at right tackle, starting as a true freshman, and finished as a First-Team All-MAC performer at left tackle. He started 50 games in college.
His NFL future lies at guard, though. He made the switch in preparation for the Senior Bowl and has been working there ever since. Winters was on the North squad at the Senior Bowl (the Lions coached the South squad) and handled being thrown into a new position against some of the best college talent very well.
"It was a big switch going from tackle to guard," he said. "In college, I was playing in the two-point stance the majority of the time and then went to a three-point come Senior Bowl. Things just happen quicker (at guard) and you have to be on your toes."
But he says the switch actually suits his game better at the NFL level.
"I probably would have played guard if I went to a different school," he said. "Just the way I play the game. It's more of a brute position and that's how I play."
NFL teams love versatility in their lineman and the Lions are no different. Winters projects to be a guard in the NFL – which is a position of need right now for the Lions – but has the experience at tackle if a team got in a bind and needed one. That benefits to coach when making a decision on which 46 players to keep active on game day.
"A team is getting someone who's a versatile player and someone who's going to come in and work hard every day," Winters said when asked what type of player an NFL team would be getting.
Vinston Painter could be late-round, developmental player
Vinston Painter was recruited by Virginia Tech to play left tackle, but was moved to defensive tackle during his redshirt season in 2008.
He switched back to the offensive side of the football the following spring and was backup right guard in 2009.
In 2010, he was moved one more time to right tackle, which is where he stayed the rest of his Hokie career. He started all 13 games there last season.
Painter (6-5, 306) is an interesting draft prospect for NFL teams in that he didn't take up football until his freshman year of high school and is a bit raw having only started his senior season at Virginia Tech.
He's highly athletic, though. He ranked second among all offensive tackles at the NFL Scouting Combine for most bench reps (32), had the fourth-highest vertical (30.5) of all offensive lineman, the fourth-fastest 40-yard dash (4.95) and was sixth in the shuttle (4.56).
"Learning different defensive techniques and some of the defensive moves kind of gave me a better idea for how guys think when I made the switch back to offense," Painter told detroitlions.com of the switch from defense to offense during a pre-draft visit with the Lions Wednesday.
"It helps you have a little better instincts as an offensive lineman."
Painter is projected to be a late-round draft and a player who might need some time to develop, but someone who could also have a high ceiling. He's a big, physical tackle with a lot of athleticism, and that's not always easy to find.
"I'll just be happy with any opportunity I get," Painter said. "I just need to get my foot in the door."