There is no Khalil Mack type buzz for Buffalo fans this season but UB's Kristjan Sokoli has spent the spring convincing NFL scouts that he is definitely worth a look.
The Buffalo defenders stock has risen from possible undfrafted free agent to a guy who might get called in the fifth or sixth round. Most of that is due to a solid performance at his pro day and the realization by scouts that the six foot five inch Sokoli was not playing an optimal position in college.
At his pro day Sokoli checked in at 290 pounds. He ran the 40 in 4.84 and 4.88 seconds. He had a 38-inch vertical and 9-11 broad jump. He had a 4.36 short shuttle and 7.25 3-cone drill. And he had 31 strength lifts.
John McWhinnie noted that Sokoli's 40 time would've been 14th among defensive linemen that participated at the NFL Combine, ahead of USC's Leonard Williams. His 31 reps on the bench would've been 4th best among defensive linemen, his 38' vertical 3rd among defensive linemen, and his 9'11' broad jump would've also been 4th among defensive linemen.
In terms of his pure athletic gifts Sokoli more than holds his own among the NFL prospects in this seasons draft. What holds him back, as mentioned above, is that the 3-3-5 hybrid-ish defense run by Lou Tepper stuck Sokoli at the nose tackle position, hardly the perfect place. He would project far better as a tackle or even an end then at the very center of the line.
That placement, and the scheme employed by Buffalo's former defensive coordinator made Sokoli a guy who's job was to get attention by linemen, not to make the tackles.
In those workouts it was important that Sokoli showed quickness off snap, something analyst said was missing from his tape. It would also help his case if he showed some moves to get passed a stalled pass rush.
That some services are saying Sokoli could go as early as the fifth round shows how impressive his pro day was. If he nailed the team workouts he should get drafted, if he shows them in camp he might have enough of an upside to make it to a teams opening day roster.