MANHATTAN, Kan. – There were plenty of smiles and hugs shortly after former Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller wrapped up his Pro Day workout on March 10.
Mueller drove his truck a short distance from the indoor workout facility to the front of Bill Snyder Family Stadium to find his mother, Valerie, and sister, Caroline, patiently waiting on him.
His sister was the first to run over and greet her brother with a warm embrace as he exited his truck, and then his mother quickly followed to offer expressions of love.
March 10 was a special day for Mueller, who did not receive an invitation to the Senior Bowl or NFL Scouting Combine. He used his Pro Day to demonstrate to personnel from 21 NFL teams he is worthy of consideration to play at the next level.
“I’m really, really proud of myself,” Mueller said after his workout. “Everything I did today, so many people have helped me, so many people had a hand in my success. The way I was able to perform, I had so many things running through my mind – teachers, friends, family, ever since I was in third grade starting to play football – it is very emotional and I’m just proud of myself, proud I could display my talents and honor all the people who have helped me.”
The 6-2, 245-pound Mueller is making the switch from defensive end to linebacker, but found himself working out at those two positions and fullback.
He posted unofficial times of 4.85 and 4.83 in the 40-yard dash, unofficial times of 6.90 and 6.94 in the 3-cone drill, and an unofficial time of 4.13 in the 5-10-5 Short Shuttle.
Mueller said the reactions he received from scouts was positive, adding the scouts informed him the Pro Day workout times compared favorably to players at the Combine.
Mueller’s best 3-cone unofficial time of 6.90 would have placed fourth among the top performers at the linebacker position in Indianapolis.
Only six linebackers at the Combine recorded times below 7.00 in the 3-cone drill: Kansas’ Ben Heeney recorded the fastest time at 6.68; Texas’ Jordan Hicks was second with 6.73; BYU’s Alani Fua was third at 6.83; Clemson’s Vic Beasley finished fourth after clocking a 6.91; and Penn State’s Mike Hull and Washington’s Shaq Thompson were tied at 6.99.
Mueller’s unofficial time of 4.13 in the 5-10-5 Short Shuttle would’ve placed fourth at the Combine behind Heeney’s 4.00, Clemson’s Stephone Anthony’s 4.03 and Thompson’s 4.08.
“Obviously, my game film and stats were right there with everybody in the country and anybody at the Combine,” Mueller said. “I think everybody was impressed with my athletic ability and what I was able to show.”
He apparently intrigued a local NFL team.
The Chiefs invited Mueller to participate in the local Pro Day at the team’s training facility on April 10, two sources informed ChiefsDigest.com. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because Kansas City has not announced the list of participants for its local Pro Day workout.
Former NFL linebacker and K-State alumnus Mark Simoneau has worked with Mueller at the Simoneau Sports Performance training facility in Overland Park, Kan., to help Mueller transition to the linebacker position.
Simoneau, a 2012 inductee to the College Football Hall of Fame, believed Mueller’s Pro Day performance was strong.
“He showed he’s athletic,” Simoneau said in a telephone interview. “He ran a good 40, a solid 40 at his weight. He did very well in his agility-type drills, showed he has good change of direction, can bend really well. I think it showed he can play at that level from an athletic standpoint. And obviously you put the film on, you know he can play football. It was a matter of verifying he had that type of ability athletically.”
Eric Galko, owner and director of OptimumScouting.com, agreed.
“With tweener guys, especially a guy like Mueller who is probably graded as a seventh-round pick or an undrafted guy,” Galko said in a telephone interview, “those numbers are going to be important and how he did in those workouts are so important.”
Mueller’s Pro Day revealed he should be ready to tackle any challenges thrown his way in the coming weeks.
He said he was confident and prepared for the workout, and his approach can be attributed to his time playing for the K-State football team.
“That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve taken from Kansas State is being prepared for the moment,” Mueller said. “Being prepared for big moments and there’s no bigger moment for the huge job interview I’ve been preparing for the last five years. I did my college football internship playing college football, and Tuesday, March 10, it was show time.”
In the meantime, Mueller will continue training with Simoneau leading to the NFL Draft.
Simoneau said he wants to ensure Mueller becomes more comfortable with not having his hand on the ground.
He said Mueller will also need to get work on catching the football out of the backfield based on the fullback drills Mueller underwent in Manhattan, a potential sign of things to come in the NFL.
“Just being prepared because when he walks into a minicamp,” Simoneau said, “they’re going to expect him to be further along than he is – the offensive side or wherever he is – he just needs to prepare himself mentally for whatever is going to come, and then just continue getting stronger, bigger and faster.”