Friday, February 21, 2014

Austin Franklin takes field in 2014 NFL Combine

(Former Aggie Austin Franklin has his sights set on the upcoming NFL Draft/Photo by Robin Zielinski)

Former New Mexico State Aggie wide receiver Austin Franklin is participating in this weekend's NFL Combine, held for 2014 NFL Draft prospects in Indianapolis, Ind.

The combine officially began Thursday with player orientation, medical exams and interviews. On-field workouts will be held Saturday through Tuesday and will be televised on NFL Network.

For NMSU football fans and followers, Franklin's performance will be something to look forward to. From a physical standpoint, he has the ability to be an NFL prospect: Franklin was a productive player with the ball in his hands - skilled gaining yards after the catch a season ago; he has good enough speed and quickness, along with outstanding eye-hand coordination. Of course he can continue improving in such areas, but the potential's certainly there.

Franklin also left NMSU following his junior year of college football - he never took a redshirt season at the school - and some pro questions could be in the form of his polish, maturity and ability to transition to the next level. Listed last year around 6-foot, 185 pounds, Franklin will need to continue developing physically as well. Some Aggies have been drafted or signed by NFL teams as free agents in recent years - Davon House, Jonte Green, Jeremy Harris and Taveon Rogers were all on pro rosters a season ago. Three of the four - House, Green and Harris - are cornerbacks, while Rogers played wide receiver at NMSU before bouncing between wide receiver and cornerback on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad.

Franklin did in fact prove to be a unique player for NMSU in recent years, and is truly a natural born athlete. During the 2012 season he led the offense with 74 catches for 1,245 yards and nine touchdowns. Last year he missed the first four games of the season due to academic ineligibility, only to return and post strong numbers the second half of the season (52 catches for 570 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games). His insertion back into the lineup also sparked the offense as a whole (he even played some wildcat runner and completed three pass attempts on the season) as the unit averaged 27.4 points per game in the final five contests of the year. And make no mistake: he was the team's true gamebreaker with the ball in his hands.

NFL Combine Workouts Schedule
* TV coverage begins at 7 a.m. on NFL Network
Saturday: Tight ends, offensive linemen, special teams
Sunday: Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers
Monday: Defensive linemen, linebackers
Tuesday: Defensive backs

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