GVSU’s Judon pleased with NFL Combine performance

GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Matt Judon (9) hypes up his team after a sack. Grand Valley squares off against Michigan Tech Oct. 17 at Lubbers Stadium in Allendale. The Lakers defeated the Huskies with a score of 38-21.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Matt Judon (9) hypes up his team after a sack. Grand Valley squares off against Michigan Tech Oct. 17 at Lubbers Stadium in Allendale. The Lakers defeated the Huskies with a score of 38-21.

A.A. Knorr

At the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 29, Matt Judon wasn’t just a small-school prospect bumping elbows with household names. Judon was on his way to getting his own name a spot in the family room.

Judon, Grand Valley State’s all-time sack leader, impressed analysts and viewers alike, posting top numbers in a handful of events among what is widely regarded to be a strong defensive line class.

“I felt good. It was a good experience and I’m glad I went,” Judon said. “I got to showcase a little of my talent and get my name out there.”

Judon’s top events were the 40-yard dash, the bench press and the vertical jump. His dash time of 4.73 seconds was good for fifth-best among competing defensive linemen, his 30 reps on the 225-pound bench press were also good for fifth-best, and his 35.0-inch vertical tied for fourth-best.

“I was happy with my numbers,” he said. “I wish I would’ve did a little better on the 20-yard shuttle, but we ran that after three hours of competition and that was one of the last things we did. But I’m pretty pleased with how I did.”

Judon’s performance caught the eye of a number of NFL Draft analysts, and helped him to gain some name recognition among a defensive line group that includes Joey Bosa (Ohio State), Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss), Shaq Lawson (Clemson) and more. After the conclusion of the defensive lineman drills, a combine worker called out the numbers of players the scouts wanted to see run through hybrid linebacker drills. Judon’s No. 28 was called.

“I wasn’t planning on doing it. At the combine they got a list, and after we did the D-line drills they called out the numbers,” Judon said. “We kind of had a little, you think you might do it or whatever, but you don’t really know until they call your name.”

After the brief hybrid drills, Judon’s day was over. He said he’s been in contact with nearly every team in the NFL at one point or another, but refuted the significance of the recent Detroit Free Press story regarding his meeting with the Detroit Lions, saying, “I’ve talked to everybody and I don’t have any more knowledge on what teams want me than I did before the combine.”

Judon is currently back in Grand Rapids, and will be training around the area and at GVSU in the days heading up to GVSU’s Pro Day, which will be held at Kelly Family Sports Center on the morning of March 15. Judon plans to do solely positional work at Pro Day, but won’t stop hitting the weights or working out at any point as the 2016 NFL Draft in late April inches closer.

“I’m going to do more position work. I think that’s the only thing I’m going to do at Pro Day, and just continue to work on my game and skills and lift weights,” Judon said “I worked very hard to have a good combine, and I’m not going waste it by sitting on my a– for the next few months.”

GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell watched Judon’s combine performance, and noted that Judon’s day was especially impressive considering that Judon was playing on a partially torn meniscus for the last half of GVSU’s 2015 season. Judon participated at the combine without a knee brace, and, judging by his explosivity at the event, his knee isn’t bothering him anymore.

Mitchell said that, because of Judon’s notoriety, he wouldn’t be surprised if scouts from all 32 NFL teams showed up at GVSU’s Pro Day, which may also feature former Lakers Kirk Spencer, Jim Walsh, Ben Hutchins and Brandon Revenberg. He also noted that he’s been fielding calls from NFL teams regarding Judon.

“I had some guys call me over the weekend, a couple guys text me about some things, so at this point if they’re calling me and talking to me, it’s about character stuff, work ethic, intangibles,” Mitchell said. “They’re just trying to get background information.”

NFL Draft analysts have labeled Judon as a “small school star” due to his playing career at a Division II school, but at this point, Judon’s status as a Division II player has taken a backseat to his athleticism and strong combine showing.

“It wasn’t, ‘D-line, (No.) 28, Division II’ all on my shirt, it was ‘D-line, (No.) 28 and Judon’ on by back,” he said. “They didn’t really care where I came from, they care about the production I had and that I had a good performance at the level I played at.”

Judon was most pleased with his 30 reps on the bench press, noting that his pre-test had him at 26 reps. The West Bloomfield, Michigan native racked up 20 sacks last season, and finished his GVSU career with 34 sacks, breaking now-Jacksonville Jaguar Dan Skuta’s previous Laker record.

The 2016 NFL Draft will be held in Chicago and take place from April 28-30.