Miami Football: 3 Players with the Most to Prove at Pro Day

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2014

Stephen Morris has repeatedly struggled during the offseason, and his performances have likely turned a few teams away.
Stephen Morris has repeatedly struggled during the offseason, and his performances have likely turned a few teams away.Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Former members of the University of Miami football team will participate in the annual pro day, and a few players have a lot to prove.

While the NFL Scouting Combine invites a select few to Indianapolis, Ind., pro day provides an opportunity for all draft-eligible athletes from a specific school to perform in front of scouts.

Last season, 30 franchises were represented at the Miami pro day, and they sent scouts or coaches to watch the skills testing of the one-time Hurricanes.

The 2014 NFL draft is considered to have one of the deeper fields in recent history, so while it will be a struggle for many players to be selected, pro day gives the 'Canes one final chance to prove their worth.


Brandon Linder

Oct 17, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Miami Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris (17) looks to pass as offensive linesman Brandon Linder (65) and running back Dallas Crawford (25) block and North Carolina Tar Heels defensive end Kareem Martin (95) defends
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

"Jack of all trades, master of none," goes the figure of speech.

While at Miami, Brandon Linder played every position along the offensive line, and he was the team's most reliable player, too.

But collegiate success does not necessarily translate to the NFL, and Linder struggled against the defensive linemen at the Senior Bowl.

The National Football Post calls Linder an "average athlete" who "does not have much speed and looks to be a bit tight in the knees." Bleacher Report's Matt Miller currently projects Linder to be selected in the sixth round this May.

Linder excelling at position drills will be a main focus on pro day, because his combine workouts were unimpressive compared to his fellow linemen.


Allen Hurns

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 09: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Allen Hurns #1 of the Miami Hurricanes looks on during a game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Sun Life Stadium on November 9, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Typically, a receiver who catches 62 passes for 1,162 yards and six touchdowns at a major university demands attention.

As for Allen Hurns, however, he is fighting an uphill battle.

Hurns emerged as Stephen Morris' favorite target and safety outlet, tallying at least 98 yards in seven games as a senior. But that isn't enough for Hurns to be a notable prospect, especially given his combine results.

NFL draftniks consider the Miami-area native a possession receiver, which is also the polite way of saying not extremely fast. Hurns ran a simply decent 4.55-second 40-yard dash at the combine, and his 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill times were not anything special.

The wide receiver class is absolutely loaded, and consequently, Hurns' skill set is not valued as much as it would have been in previous years because of the extraordinary amount of talent near the top. Of course, Hurns was nowhere near this level of production before the 2013 campaign, either.

Hurns must reinforce his ability to separate from defensive backs without elite straight-line speed. Running crisp routes is imperative for slower receivers, and Hurns will certainly go undrafted if he repeatedly makes slow breaks or keys his next move.

But if Hurns impresses while going through the variety of routes, he will have an NFL home for training camp.


Stephen Morris

John Raoux/Associated Press

Following a scorching end to the 2012 season, many scouts were opening up to the idea of Stephen Morris as an early-round pick.

Well, Morris' 2013 campaign and offseason workouts have sent them running.

After the Senior Bowl,'s Bucky Brooks was displeased with Morris' "lack of accuracy and ball placement" and that "he repeatedly missed open receivers at intermediate range."

Quarterback evaluator Benjamin Allbright says Morris "has a strong arm and some athleticism, but that's about it." His biggest weaknesses are "accuracy, consistency and ball placement," and Morris' "mid- and short-game are less than desirable."

Plus, Morris repeatedly threw off his back foot last season, failing to drive the ball and seeing it sail past his receivers on multiple occasions—oftentimes landing in the opponent's hands.

As Allbright said, Morris has a strong arm and is capable of launching passes downfield, which is exemplified by his perfectly placed 52-yard bomb to Phillip Dorsett against Florida. But NFL teams are looking for more than a cannon—see Russell, JaMarcus.

Morris' overall game is not what it once appeared to be, and a stellar pro day will basically just save his fleeting draft hopes, as disappointing as that may be.


Note: All quotes obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.

Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.


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