Former Kansas LB Joe Dineen aiming to prove detractors wrong at pro day

Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (29) bemoans a missed interception with teammate Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise (96) during the first quarter on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

College football’s FBS leader in solo tackles in each of his final two seasons at the University of Kansas, Joe Dineen was vexed.

The NFL invited 337 prospects this year to attend its annual scouting combine in Indianapolis, and the Jayhawks’ first-team All-Big 12 linebacker didn’t make the cut.

“Yeah, I was frustrated,” Dineen recalled. “More so, because you don’t really know why. But it is what it is. And I think if I come out here and perform on pro day, then everything I want is still in front of me.”

That’s the idea for Dineen and other Jayhawks, such as Daniel Wise, Steven Sims Jr., Dwayne Wallace and others, who will spend Wednesday trying to impress scouts and decision-makers from NFL teams at KU football’s pro day.

It’s a chance for Dineen and the program’s other 2018 seniors to try and prove they’ve been overlooked, and perhaps have the kind of showing that ends up being the first step in continuing a player’s football career.

Even before discovering he wouldn’t be part of the large-scale, invite-only NFL combine, Dineen began training as if he would be. And once he didn’t, he kept on preparing and working just the same.

The regimen began for Dineen on New Year’s Day, when he flew down to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to start training at XPE Sports. The Free State High graduate and Lawrence native wouldn’t return to his hometown for more than two months, and when he did so in early March, it was just for a few days. Then he headed back to Florida for more drills and lifting and running, all with the upcoming pro day at the front of his mind.

While Dineen described the feedback he has received thus far regarding his NFL potential as “positive,” he also thinks KU’s pro day should “really help” him improve his stock.

After playing in the East-West Shrine Game, in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 19, Dineen’s agent, Tom Mills, was able to get a feel for what some scouts thought of Dineen, after seeing him practice and play in person.

His detractors said they weren’t sure about Dineen’s lateral movement as a defender or his top-end speed.

“I think if I compare some of my times to some of the times I saw at the combine, I’ll stack up pretty well,” Dineen predicted.

He paid close attention from afar, not only to his teammate and buddy, Wise, at the combine, but also the linebackers. Dineen examined the results from linebacker workouts when the data became available and felt encouraged.

“Obviously, they did good. But I’m confident to show them what I’ve got,” Dineen said.

Scouts will be able to observe Dineen and his former KU teammates lift, jump, sprint and more at the program’s pro day.

For Dineen, the goal will be to impress to a point that the consensus on his draftability improves. CBS Sports ranks him as the 353rd-best prospect available in this year’s draft, and the No. 41 linebacker. According to what he’s been told, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Dineen could be a late-round pick or go undrafted.

“The question marks are what they are. But I think if I can show I’m athletic enough to play and match that with the production that I did have in college, I think I’ll be OK,” the upbeat Dineen said. “The great thing about the NFL is, it only takes one team to like you. It only takes one team to take a chance on you. So I’m hoping pro day will help me out with that.”

2019 KU football pro day participants

QB Peyton Bender

WR Jeremiah Booker

LB Joe Dineen

C Alex Fontana

DL Isi Holani

DL JJ Holmes

WR Kerr Johnson

DE/LB Brian Lipscomb

RB Kendall Morris

K Gabriel Rui

TE Mavin Saunders

WR Ryan Schadler

WR Steven Sims Jr.

DL KeyShaun Simmons

RB Deron Thompson

CB Shakial Taylor

OL Dwayne Wallace

LS John Wirtel

DL Daniel Wise

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