Sammy Watkins is widely considered to be the top wide receiver in the 2014 NFL draft class, and scouts came out in droves to see him at Clemson's pro day Thursday.
According to Aaron Brenner of the Charleston Post & Courier, most if not all of the NFL teams were represented at Clemson University:
I spy scouts from Az, Ind, Cin, NYJ, NYG, NO, Phi, Cle, Chi, Oak, Hou, Was, TB, Jac, Det, Bal, Car, Pit, NE, etc.— Aaron Brenner (@Aaron_Brenner) March 6, 2014
Many of the scouts in attendance weren't immediately recognizable or identifiable, but the stars certainly came out as well. That included Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, as seen in this photo courtesy of Clemson Football on Twitter:
Along with Watkins, there was particular interest in fellow wideout Martavis Bryant and quarterback Tajh Boyd.
All three of them participated in the NFL Scouting Combine, however, and they were spectators for much of Clemson's pro day with the exception of positional drills.
Talent evaluators certainly would have loved to see all three prospects run on Thursday, but Brenner reported that they were content to let their impressive combine times stand alone:
Doesn't look like Tajh Boyd, Martavis Bryant or Sammy Watkins will run today. Combine times: Bryant 4.42, Watkins 4.43, Boyd 4.84. #Clemson— Aaron Brenner (@Aaron_Brenner) March 6, 2014
As seen in this photo courtesy of Comcast Sports Southeast's Knox Bardeen, Watkins and Boyd started to get prepared once the combine-style workouts concluded:
While Boyd's days of throwing to Watkins as members of the Clemson football team are over, they had one last hurrah at Clemson's pro day:
Watkins looked quick, explosive and sure-handed as always, but Boyd's performance was the bigger story. According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boyd was nearly perfect through his first 40 throws:
That continued as he ultimately misfired on just one of his 64 pass attempts:
Tajh Boyd completed 63 of 64 open-field throws of varying difficulty— Aaron Brenner (@Aaron_Brenner) March 6, 2014
It was a huge showing for Boyd, especially in the wake of comments made by NFL Network's Mike Mayock, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk:
He's highly inconsistent from an accuracy perspective and his pocket awareness is the big problem— as soon as he sees a flash of color anywhere, he's out of the pocket. He's a little bit of a developmental pick and I think he'll go late in the draft. I hope the team that drafts him has a plan, because he does have some ability, but he's not going to go until late.
According to Max Henson of the Carolina Panthers' official website, Boyd was quite content with his workout:
Tajh Boyd on his pro day workout: "A lot of people had questions about my accuracy & arm strength. I feel like I answered those questions."— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) March 6, 2014
Aside from Clemson's "big three" there were several other intriguing prospects who looked to boost their draft stock.
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland and offensive lineman Brandon Thomas were combine invitees along with Watkins, Boyd and Bryant. Thomas was idle at Clemson's pro day aside from positional drills, but Breeland was a bit more active.
Breeland ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds at the combine, according to NFL.com. Apparently he wasn't satisfied with that number as he tried his luck on Thursday. It turned out to be the right decision with Breeland improving to an unofficial 4.55, as seen in this vine:
Watch Bashaud Breeland run a 4.55 40-yard dash (unofficial time): https://t.co/4XrQU2KnUM— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) March 6, 2014
In what was unarguably the most impressive feat of the day, Clemson offensive lineman Tyler Shatley dominated the bench press. Teams didn't have an opportunity to evaluate Shatley at the combine since he wasn't invited, but he made a case for why he deserved to be there.
Shatley barely seemed to break a sweat en route to 40 reps of 225 pounds:
Officially, Tyler Shatley just did 40 reps of 225-lbs in the bench press. ...But he did infinity reps accor... https://t.co/GwdvgLe9t5— Clemson Athletics (@ClemsonTigers) March 6, 2014
According to Brenner, only North Carolina center Russell Bodine bested that mark at the combine:
At the Combine, UNC center Russell Bodine benched 42 reps. Nobody else had more than 36. Shatley just did 40. #Clemson— Aaron Brenner (@Aaron_Brenner) March 6, 2014
Which prospect impressed you most at Clemson's pro day?
There is little doubt that Shatley raised some eyebrows and put himself on the radar. There wasn't a ton of hype surrounding him prior to the pro day, but with his highly touted teammates picking and choosing their spots, he was able to steal the show in many ways.
The other shining star was Boyd, whose draft stock has dropped considerably since last season. Boyd stumbled through an uneven 2013 campaign, and there are questions about his accuracy, but he answered them at Clemson's pro day.
That won't be enough for him to recoup all the value that he lost, but if he changed the mind of even one organization Thursday, then it was a successful day.
Watkins will be the talk of Clemson's draft class moving forward; however, it is now apparent that some potential gems can be had by NFL teams come May.
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