Pro day hilites

By | March 28, 2021

Northern Iowa: Both of Northern Iowa’s legit NFL prospects had really good pro day workouts. OT Spencer Brown, who measured in at a rangy 6-8.5, 311 with 34.75 inch arms, tested very well for a player that size. He put up 29 reps in the bench press and then ran a very athletic 40 in the 4.9-flat range, while his shuttle times of 4.44 in the SS and 7.03 in the 3-cone were literally off-the-charts for an OL; indeed, both those times would have been tops among OL at the 2020 combine, and it wasn’t even close.

Meanwhile, DE Ellerson Smith, who had a solid week at the Senior Bowl, was just as good if not better. Like Brown, Smith at 6-6.5, 266 with 33-inch arms, has prototype length; he’s also got big hands at 10-5 inches. Smith ten put up 26 reps in the BP; had leaps of 41 inches in the vertical and 10-7 in the LJ; timed at just under 4.7 seconds in the 40, and posted elite level type shuttle runs a time of 4.39 seconds in the short shuttle, which would have been in the top 5 for the position at the 2020 combine.

UCLA: The Bruins only had a couple of players working out at their pro day, but they were both guys that the NFL wanted to see work out. Odd-sized DT Osa Odighizuwa, for example, measured in as an odd-sized DT at 6-1.5 and 282 pounds, although he did impress with 34-inch arms and big (10.5-inch) hands. He also posted a solid 25 reps in the BP and a 31.5-inch vertical, both of which would have been middle-of-the-pack numbers for defensive linemen at the 2020 combine. Odighizuwa didn’t the run the 40 at the UCLA pro day, but did post times in the short shuttle (4.45 seconds) and 3-cone drill (7.56) that were much more in line with what the DEs at last year’s combine compared with those of the DTs. And given his size/speed combo, it is likely that Odighizuwa will get most of his looks at the next level and a 5T 3-4 DE.

Meanwhile, everyone was kind of expecting a freakish kind of performance by RB/WR Demetric Felton, one of the most versatile players in college football. Instead, it was kind of ‘meh!’ Felton measured in at just 5-8.5 and 189 pounds, managed only 10 reps in the BP, had a 31.5 vertical , ran the 40 in a somewhat pedestrian 4.53 and posted shuttle times of 4.44 in the SS and 7.32 in the 3-cone that just weren’t all that quick for either a RB or WR.

Mississippi State: The featured player at the Mississippi State pro day was RB Kylin Hill who had a breakout year in 2019 when he ran for over 1,300 yards and 10 TDs, but then opted out on the Bulldogs after 3 games – and 58 measly yards – this past season. Hill was solid, albeit unspectacular in his return to MSU for their pro day. He measured in at a stout 5-10, 214, put up 22 reps in the bench and had an athletic 36-inch vertical leap, while running the 40 in 4.51 seconds and posting times of 4.35 in the short shuttle and 7.13 in the 3-cone drill, each of which would have been in the top half of the RB class at the combine last year.

Memphis: NFL teams were very interested to see how Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell tested after he had a breakout year in 2019 when he had over 2,000 yards from scrimmage including 1,460 on the ground while catching 51 passes for another 600 yards. Gainwell, though, is another player who opted out of the 2020 season so hasn’t been seen in a while. And Gainwell tested well enough running the 40 in 4,42 seconds after measuring in at 5-11, 195. He also posted 21 reps in the bench press and had a decent 35-inch vertical, whereas his shuttle times of 4.35 seconds in the SS and 7.13 in the 3-cone would have been middle-of-the-packish at the position at the 2020 combine. On the other hand, WR Damonte Coxie, who is generally thought of as a solid mid-third day type prospect didn’t run at all as he clocked the 40 in 4.77 seconds running at 6-2, 200.

North Texas: The Mean Green haven’t had a player drafted since 2004 but see that streak could end this year as WR Jaelon Darden is part of the deep receiver class for 2021. Darden, who had a breakout year this past fall when he caught 76 passes for over 1,100 yards and 19 TDs in just 9 games, isn’t all that big at just 5-8, 174, but he has good speed with a 4.46 40 clocking and even better quickness. Indeed, Darden’s times in the two agility drills – 3.98 seconds in the short shuttle and 6.66 in the 3-cone – would have been the fastest at the position at the 2020 combine.

SMU: The Mustangs have a really intriguing DB prospect in CB Brandon Stephens who was actually originally recruited by UCLA as a RB; in fact, he played RB for the Pac-12 Bruins, albeit sparingly, for parts of three seasons before transferring to SMU where he switched to corner and ultimately broke up 22 passes in his two seasons out there. What makes Stephens especially intriguing is that he has a unique size/speed combination. For starters he’s big; he measured in at 6-1, 219 at the SMU pro day and then went out and clocked a 4.43 in the 40 and posted a 38-inch vertical.

San Diego State: SDSU CB Darren Hall is one of the better kept secrets in college football despite the fact that he tied for the national lead in total pass breakups in 2019 with 17. He followed that up in 2020 with three picks and 6 other pass breakups in 9 games as opponents generally stayed on the other side of the field. Hall was probably hoping to make a statement at the Aztecs’ pro day to back up those numbers, but he probably didn’t get it. Hall is not all that big or long as he measured in at 5-11, 188 with only 30.5 inch arms. He did manage to impress with an athletic 39-inch vertical, but his times in the 40 (4.47 seconds) as well as those in the short shuttle (4.28) and 3-cone drill would have been at the lower end at the position at the 2020 combine.

Georgia Southern: The Eagles have an interesting second-tier edge rushing prospect in Ray Johnson, a 4-year starter who has been reasonably productive at Georgia Southern despite being somewhat miscast as an undersized 3-4 DE. Johnson measured in at 6-2, 260 at the Eagles pro day, but with reasonably long 33-inch arms. He also tested reasonably well, posting a 33-inch vertical, a 4.73 40 clocking and a time of 7.24 seconds in the 3-cone drill which are all decent numbers for a guy in that size range.

South Dakota State WR Cade Johnson, a two-time FCS All-American who had 140 receptions for over 2,500 yards and 25 TDs over the past two seasons, was one of those small school stars NFL personnel people were eager to get a look at at their pro days. Unfortunately, Johnson came up a little short as in not very big with short arms. Officially, Johnson measured in at 5-10.5, 184 but with barely 29-inch arms. Johnson did test a little better in the fields but still didn’t blow anyone away with an okay 35-inch vertical and a 4.49 40 clocking.

Boston College: The key workouts at the BC were a little contradictory as both TE Hunter Long and LB Isaiah McDuffie timed well in the 40, whereas the rest of their workouts were kind of ‘meh’. Long, one of the top 2-3 prospects at the position for the upcoming draft, for example, was clocked in a very good 4.63 for the 40, but he only had a 32.5-inch vertical and his agility drill times of 4.42 in the short shuttle and 7.41 in the 3-cone were below par for a receiving TE. Same story for McDuffie, who posted a 4.60 40 clocking, but like Long had only a 32.5-inch vertical combined with slowish times in both the short shuttle (4.41) and 3-cone drill (7.26).

Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers had a dream 11-1 season in which their only loss was in OT in their bowl game, while star DE Tarron Jackson had a dream season of his own in which he was the Sun Belt defensive player of the year, a consensus All-American, and a finalist for the prestigious Lombardi Award (along with Trevor Lawrence and DeVonta Smith). As such, scouts were intrigued to see him work out at his pro day, but like several other small school players noted above Jackson didn’t test all that well. He measured in at 6-2, 254 and ran the 40 in 4.70 which is okay; he also posted 25 reps in the BP which is very good, but his vertical (just 29.5 inches) and agility drill times of 4.36 seconds in the short shuttle and 7.41 in the 3-cone weren’t very good at all.