KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Former Kansas Jayhawks tight end Jimmay Mundine is on a mission after not receiving an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine.
The 6-2, 242-pound Mundine wrapped up his career in Lawrence, Kan., in 2014 by leading the Jayhawks in receiving with 45 catches for 584 yards, adding three touchdowns. He appeared in 45 career games, totaling 86 catches for 1,082 yards and 11 touchdowns, the latter marking the most for a Kansas tight end.
Mundine hopes his resume and skillset are more than enough to impress the NFL scouts during his Pro Day workout on March 25 in Lawrence to prove he belongs in professional football.
“I need to show just because I’m smaller, I have speed and athleticism,” Mundine said. “I think I can be on an even playing field and let my stats speak for themself, I mean, all the numbers. I’ve played against good competition, so you can’t say I’ve played against guys where you just look past those numbers.”
While Mundine didn’t participate in the Combine despite a successful college career, he isn’t flying under the radar.
The native of Denison, Texas, landed on the 2014 Mackey Award preseason watch list and ended up being a semifinalist for the award, which recognizes the nation’s top college football tight end.
Mundine also participated in the 2015 Gridiron College Showcase all-star game in Arlington, Texas, where he had an opportunity to work with NFL scouts.
“It was pretty cool,” Mundine said of the experience. “You get to talk to teams that are interested in you. They ask questions about your past, what you see for your future. That was good, and then to go against good competition that will potentially go to the next level.”
He finished the Gridiron College Showcase with one catch for 12 yards.
But the week leading to the game provided him an opportunity to display versatility when he worked as a fullback, a preview of what he’ll bring to an NFL team.
“It was more like an H-back, really,” Mundine said. “Not a traditional tight end, not a traditional fullback, but one that can just kind of be used in between there doing different things in and out of the backfield.”
It is that flexibility that has Dan Shonka, a former NFL scout and current general manager of OurLads.com scouting services, intrigued by Mundine’s potential.
“Jimmay Mundine may get drafted late or will get signed as a priority free agent,” Shonka said in an email exchange with ChiefsDigest.com. “An H-back, move tight end-type. Good hands and speed. Kansas’ leading receiver. Has a chance to make a roster if he goes to the right team.”
The work hasn’t stopped since the end of the 2014 regular season and the 2015 Gridiron College Showcase.
Mundine, who already earned a bachelor’s degree in communications, said he trained at the EXOS training facility in Frisco, Texas, with a goal to improve speed and strength.
“My 40, for sure, my bench reps,” Mundine said. “I started and I was really low and now I’m up to 19, almost 20 repetitions, so that will be good. That won’t be anything that wows them (scouts), but I’ll be right there with the rest of the guys.”
He has a point when compared to the draft’s top tight ends.
Minnesota’s 6-4, 249-pound Maxx Williams, widely regarded as the No. 1 tight end of this year’s draft class, totaled 17 bench press repetitions at the Combine. Miami’s 6-4, 251-pound Clive Walford, arguably the No. 2 tight end, totaled 20.
When it comes to running the 40-yard dash, Mundine has a specific goal in mind.
“4.6 range,” Mundine said. “On a good day, 4.5. Hopefully I can go out there on my Pro Day and make that happen.”
Any of those two times would have placed Mundine among the top tight end performers at the Combine.
Southern Illinois’ 6-2, 251-pound Pruitt MyCole clocked the best score with an unofficial 4.58 40-yard dash time in Indianapolis, and South Alabama’s 6-3, 248-pound Wes Saxton was second with an unofficial 4.65.
Williams was third with an unofficial 4.78, Walford was fourth with an unofficial 4.79 and Oklahoma’s 6-6, 252-pound Blake Bell rounding out the top five with an unofficial 4.80.
Still, there is more to the NFL than just speed.
Dane Brugler, senior draft analyst for CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com, said scouts will want to see Mundine’s full repertoire during the Pro Day workout.
“Jimmay has a talented skillset, so I expect him to test well and I think teams do as well,” Brugler said. “But showing well during positional drills will carry much more weight for him in the eyes of NFL decision makers. Athleticism will only get him so far. He needs to show he is well-rounded for a team to take a chance on him.”
While Mundine showed in college he can make plays, he is fully aware of the importance to demonstrate he can be more than just a receiver as he grows into the H-back role.
A tight end and fullback will be called upon to block, and don’t expect him to shy from that responsibility.
“I’m definitely not scared to throw it in there,” Mundine said. “I can use better technique, continue to work on those drills, but I definitely don’t think I’m lacking to just where you can’t have me blocking, that’s for sure.”
Mundine’s willingness to take on a defender is good news to Brugler, who reinforced the importance of versatility.
“If he improves as a blocker, Jimmay could carve out a career similar to (Tennessee Titans tight end) Delanie Walker,” Brugler said. “Not every tight end can be built like (New England Patriots tight end) Rob Gronkowski and Walker has shown that, thriving in his role because of multidimensional ability as a receiver and blocker. And Jimmay has that type of potential.”
Where Mundine fits in the draft – draft slot and position played – depends on perspective.
• CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com place Mundine as the eighth-best prospect at fullback and project him as a seventh-round pick or an undrafted free agent.
• OptimumScouting.com ranks Mundine as the 37th-best tight end and projects him to go undrafted.
• SBNation.com’s ‘Mocking the Draft’ doesn’t include Mundine in its rankings.
• And as pointed out earlier, Dan Shonka of OurLads.com believes Mundine will be a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent.
Mundine is aware of the projections, but he takes a realistic approach when it comes to the NFL Draft.
“You just never know,” Mundine said. “There are so many Pro Days and there are all these projections. There are only 32 people that get picked and there will be 150 projected to go in that round. You can’t really go off all that stuff. I try not to focus on any of that. I’m just working hard to improve all my times, and that’s what I’ve done so far.”
Meanwhile, it will be difficult to ignore Mundine’s athleticism regardless of role a team projects on the field or where he is found on a draft board.
Mundine’s abilities relate favorably to tight end and fullback Charles Clay, currently of the Miami Dolphins, or even former Washington tight end Chris Cooley, who played in an H-back role.
But a former NFL player Mundine believes his skillset as a receiver compares to the most could surprise.
“I wouldn’t say I pattern my game after him,” Mundine said, “but I’d say I play like an Aaron Hernandez as far as understanding how to run routes and how to catch the ball, how to get open. I used to watch him all the time when he played. I mean, obviously not the off-field issues, but as far as how he played on the field, beat guys one-on-one. That’s just something I kind of modeled my game after.”
Mundine has the tools, and Brugler doesn’t believe Mundine should be limited to a specific offensive scheme in the NFL.
Brugler, however, pointed out the need for a creative offensive coordinator to best utilize Mundine as a weapon.
“Jimmay can line up at receiver, inline and in the backfield and has the versatility to be a Swiss army knife for an offense,” Brugler said. “But it will take a willing play caller to utilize his strengths as a pass-catching option. His best fit will likely be in ‘12’ (one running back, two tight ends) or ‘22’ (two running backs, two tight end) personnel sets.”
Mundine has come a long way from his youthful days of rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles, an unlikely team growing up in Texas.
He said his oldest brother, Nick, whom Mundine called his hero, was an Eagles fan and it was only natural for the younger brother to follow.
Mundine proved his loyalty by quickly naming off the likes of running back Brian Westbrook, safety Brian Dawkins, tight end Chad Lewis, defensive lineman Hugh Douglas, and of course, then-Eagles and current Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
While Mundine doesn’t have a preferred team to play for, he certainly wouldn’t ignore a certain NFL organization less than an hour away from Lawrence if the Chiefs expressed interest.
“Hopefully they will be a possibility,” Mundine said. “I know (former Kansas) coach (Charlie) Weis and coach Andy Reid were pretty cool. Who knows? Sometimes it’s who you know to get you through.”
The 2014 second-team All-Big 12 Conference selection by coaches and The Associated Press did his part while in college to take the next step.
Still, the disappointment of being ignored by the Combine selection committee lingers and provided additional inspiration while he trained in Texas.
“It was definitely frustrating,” Mundine said. “It gave me more time to get ready for my Pro Day, just more motivation to show them on Pro Day they made a mistake.”
Mundine will be among a total of 15 players from Kansas and an additional nine players from other schools expected to be present on March 25 at Memorial Stadium.
And like his fellow participants, Mundine hopes to do enough to catch the attention of any NFL team in attendance.
“That’s all I want is an opportunity,” Mundine said. “That’s all I can ask for, really. I don’t deserve anything as much as the next guy. I’ve worked hard, but so has everybody else. I just want the opportunity to show I can make plays and help a team win a championship.”
Mundine said he currently doesn’t have any scheduled predraft visits, but that scenario could change if he has a successful workout.
In the meantime, he is focused on training. Mundine knows what he must do and he hopes the previous months leading to Pro Day will pay off when the workouts begin.
But there are moments when he has paused in an attempt to reflect just how large the moment will be should he ultimately find himself with the chance to play on Sundays.
“It still hasn’t hit me,” Mundine said. “I still feel like it’s still far away, but then sometimes I talk and hear things, and then I realize it can become a reality very soon. When I think about of me being that little kid from Denison, Texas, I can’t believe all this is happening.”