Lazard, Lanning show out at Pro Day

Iowa State wide receiver Allen Lazard makes a catch during the 59th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee on Dec. 30, 2017. The Cyclones defeated the Tigers 21-20.

Aaron Marner

Iowa State held its annual pro day today for scouts of professional football teams to watch the Cyclone seniors.

The main name on the list was senior wide receiver Allen Lazard, who was the lone Cyclone invited to last month’s NFL Combine.

Alongside Lazard was redshirt senior linebacker Joel Lanning. Lanning, who transitioned from quarterback to linebacker for his final year of college, is an intriguing prospect due to his versatility and athleticism.

Lazard had a good showing at the Combine, so he chose not to participate in some drills at pro day. Instead, Lazard ran routes as a receiver and caught passes.

“I think I did pretty well,” Lazard said. “[I just wanted to show] I’m versatile. I run good routes and ultimately as a receiver that’s all you need to do. It doesn’t matter your 40-time, your shuttle time, how many reps you’re doing, as long as you can create separation and get open and score touchdowns, that’s what you need to do.”

Lazard left Iowa State as the school’s career leader in receptions and receiving yards, along with the single-season record for receiving touchdowns.

Thanks to his size — Lazard said he measured in at just under 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds — he could be used as an outside receiver. But he could also transition to tight end, which might work better given his strength and relative lack of speed.

Lazard clocked in at 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, which was better than expected. As a result he didn’t run the 40-yard dash at pro day, since it was unlikely he would improve upon that time.

Lazard said some teams are desperate for a bigger receiver on the outside, while others are looking at him as a tight end or slot receiver. Most mock drafts have Lazard falling somewhere in the fourth, fifth or sixth rounds of the NFL Draft.

Lanning, on the other hand, isn’t expected to be drafted. He could be a late-round selection thanks to his versatility.

While he primarily worked out at linebacker at pro day and in private workouts before, some teams have taken notice of his ability to play other spots. The Oakland Raiders wanted him to work out at fullback.

“That’s the main team that I’ve heard of [to play fullback],” Lanning said. “Otherwise everyone else has kinda been linebacker.

“I was down in Ft. Lauderdale training and I didn’t prepare for fullback.”

Lanning has experience as a runner. He ran for 17 career touchdowns as a Cyclone and fell just short of 1,000 career yards. One of the transitions for Lanning was pass-catching, as he caught just one pass (for nine yards his sophomore year in a loss at Toledo) in his college career.

Lanning was not invited to the Combine last month, so pro day was his big shot to impress scouts.

“I thought I performed pretty well,” Lanning said. “I [set personal records] on pretty much everything.”

Official times were not available immediately, but Lanning completed 26 reps of bench press and had a 40-time in the low 4.70s, which are both better than expected. Lanning said his 26 reps on bench press was better than his previous best of 24.

“All you gotta do is find one team that needs you or wants you on their team and go try to make a spot,” Lanning said.

Both Lanning and Lazard said they were thankful to go through part of the NFL Draft process with each other. They didn’t work out together — Lanning was in Florida while Lazard spent time in Arizona — but the two have stayed in contact during the past few months.

Now that the Draft is less than a month away (it begins April 26), Lazard and Lanning are ready to find out where they’ll be starting their professional careers.

“I’ve really enjoyed this process, especially the not going to school part,” Lazard said. “That’s probably the funnest thing about it.”