Biggest Winners and Losers of Latest Pro Day Workouts
The NFL Scouting Combine was over a month ago now, and draft prospects have moved on to their school pro days.
Players all around the country are putting on shows for scouts—and in one instance, per the Washington Post's Cindy Boren, a governor and former president of the United States—in an effort to showcase their skills, allay draft fears or build some unexpected buzz.
Whether pro days move the needle much for NFL teams is another discussion entirely—the events seem more show than tell, given most players are in shorts—but they certainly get people talking.
Click through for the latest winners and losers from the pro days held to date.
Winner: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Linebacker C.J. Mosley's stock has been all over the place throughout the draft process. He could go as high as the top 10 or barely make it into the first round.
The talented Alabama product didn't run at the combine, but he put on the speed at Alabama's pro day, running the 40-yard dash in 4.63 unofficially, according to Rick Karle of WBRC Fox6. Mosley also looked good in drills, per CBS Sports' Dane Brugler.
A good pro day could go a long way toward stabilizing his draft stock.
Loser: Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut
Behind Mosley lies uncertainty at middle linebacker in the draft.
Connecticut's Yawin Smallwood is arguably the second-best inside linebacker heading into the NFL this year, but he has had a poor draft season.
Smallwood hurt his hamstring at the combine, a reason he ran the 40-yard dash in just 5.01 seconds. He was still too hurt to run at Connecticut's pro day, per Jim Fuller of the New Haven Register, and he was only able to participate in some positional drills.
Winner: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Wide receiver Cody Latimer could only do the bench press at the combine because he was still recovering from foot surgery from a scant few months ago.
He recovered enough to participate in Indiana's pro day, though, and the former Hoosier did not disappoint, per Zach Osterman of The Indianapolis Star:
Teams wanted to know: Could Latimer show top-end straight-line speed? A 4.38-second 40-yard dash answered that question.
“I think I put up some good numbers that caught scouts eyes,” Latimer said after IU’s pro day Wednesday. “That’s all I needed to do.”
His time wowed the 30 scouts in attendance, according to NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline.
“Scouts were surprised to the point of being impressed a 215-pound receiver was able to run so well so soon after foot surgery,” Pauline told The Star.
Latimer is projected to be a third-day pick, but this kind of pro day could cause teams to take a second, closer look.
Loser: Eric Ebron, TE, UNC
The draft's top tight end stumbled a bit at his pro day.
Eric Ebron should be the first tight end taken in the draft, perhaps inside the top 15. The big tight end out of UNC didn't necessarily fulfill lofty expectations at North Carolina's pro day, though, per Bleacher Report's Mike Chiari:
He looked like a physical specimen on the field, but it's fair to say that he failed to build upon his combine showing.
The issues started when Ebron decided to partake in the shuttle run.
While he displayed some of his trademark explosiveness, he seemed to struggle in terms of footing, so he wasn't as strong as most probably anticipated.
A big knock on Ebron heading into the NFL is his drop problem. He had an 11.4 percent drop rate last season at UNC, less than surehanded to be sure. He didn't do much to dispel that notion when catching passes at UNC's pro day, dropping three.
To be fair, conditions weren't ideal at his pro day showing.
Winner: Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
Of all the pro day 40-yard dash news, former Wyoming receiver Robert Herron might have had the hottest, putting up times of 4.29 and 4.25, per NFL draft analyst Benjamin Allbright.
That was almost two-tenths of a second faster than he ran at the combine, a blazing time that might have caused a double-take or 100 when posted.
Herron is in the thick of the pack at wide receiver, a deep class this season. Having a pro day with such head-turning results could help him stick out just enough to move up.
Loser: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
One of the draft's more intriguing options at tight end behind the top guys has not had much to show during draft season.
Doctors found a stress fracture in Austin Seferian-Jenkins' foot at the combine, a rather unfortunate discovery for the big tight end out of Washington. The injury will likely keep him from performing at Washington's pro day, per Rob Rang of CBSSports.com (h/t NFL.com's Chase Goodbread).
Seferian-Jenkins should get a chance to show his stuff in a personal pro day before the draft, but standing still while most are showing off during draft season is not a great look.
Winner: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
Buffalo pass-rusher Khalil Mack was flying a bit under the radar heading into draft season despite holding the NCAA record for forced fumbles and tying for tackles for loss. Most expect him to be a first-round pick, but much of the talk—positive or negative—has focused elsewhere among pass-rushers.
However, Mack's pro day has created a buzz, to the point where some think he will go in the top five. He had a nice performance, particularly in the 40-yard dash, per Jeff Reynolds of NFLDraftScout.com:
Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack ran handheld times of 4.53-4.55 seconds at the school's pro day workout Tuesday with more than 20 teams represented, including two teams with picks in the top five.
Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine and Buffalo Bills general manager Kevin Whaley were on hand for Mack's morning workout during which he improved dramatically on a 4.65 "official" time in the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Mack didn't need the pro day to show how explosive a player he is, but it was nice confirmation that he is a physical specimen.
Losers: Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson out of Florida had rather lackluster combines.
Both ran the 40-yard dash in just 4.61 seconds and put up six and eight reps in the 225-pound bench press, respectively. They didn't do much to help themselves in their pro days either, per CBSSports.com's Rob Rang:
Cornerbacks Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy failed to better their disappointing Combine 40-yard dash times, coming in the mid-4.5s to low 4.6s on most watches. One scout had Roberson at 4.71.
The slow times may not have the negative impact you might expect. Scouts following the workout sounded willing to concede that poor conditions contributed to the numbers. Heavy rain forced the former Gators inside to work out and the athletes ran barefoot on an indoor rubber surface. As one longtime NFL scout put, "I've never seen anything like it."
Poor conditions or not, both cornerbacks could have used some positive buzz instead of more negativity after their pro days.
Winner: De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
De'Anthony Thomas relies on his speed to be successful. His miserable combine showing—relatively speaking, that is—knocked his already low draft stock down a peg or two.
Thomas ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, a lackluster time for a player many expected to run in the 4.3s.
The diminutive back rectified that with a sizzling pro day, timing in at 4.34 seconds in the dash, according to CBSSports.com's Rob Rang. He'll need more than that to go anywhere in the first two days of the draft, but at least Thomas mitigated the damage from the combine.
Winners: All the Quarterbacks...
With one notable exception, pro days have been all rainbows and lollipops for quarterback prospects this year.
It's difficult to tell which quarterback was lauded more, but UCF's Blake Bortles and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel seem to have gotten the most praise.
This was particularly good for Manziel, who had seen critics chip away at his draft stock throughout draft season. Those critics might not be swayed, but Manziel helped himself in the public eye.
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah tweeted that Manziel had an "outstanding" day, while his quarterbacks coach, George Whitfield Jr., told Alex Dunlap of RosterWatch.com that "teams had all seen Johnny's freelance jazz but today he showed them Mozart."
Before Manziel wowed the crowd, Bortles put on a show, per the Houston Chronicle's John McClain:
Bortles (6-5, 232 at the combine) made every throw during a workout that lasted about 30 minutes.
“I was very impressed,” O’Brien said. “He made every throw I wanted to see, and he showed good footwork.”
O’Brien and Smith met with Bortles on Tuesday night.
“I like what he did,” Smith said. “I was very impressed with him.”
Former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski of ESPN graded Bortles’ pro day on a scale of 1-10.
“I give him a 10,” Jaworski said.
Outside those two at the top of the draft, it was a nice day for the likes of Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas and Fresno State's Derek Carr. Thomas connected on 56 of 59 passes, as his QB coach Whitfield tweeted. Carr hit 56 of 63 passes and "didn't have a bad throw" according to a scout despite being nauseated, per CBSSports.com's Rob Rang.
Loser: ...Except Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
In what has become a hot-button issue leading up to the draft, Teddy Bridgewater inspired some less than stellar reviews about his pro day.
The former Louisville Cardinal was reportedly off-target—relatively speaking—at his pro day, prompting negative reviews from multiple outlets.
His shaky performance was magnified by the glowing reports coming from other quarterback pro days. While this may not ultimately affect where he is taken in the draft very much, Bridgewater has been pooh-poohed a bit since that day.
Bridgewater chose not to use gloves, per The Plain-Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot, and that may have been a big factor in his disappointing showing. Rob Rang and others suspect he may have been a bit nervous in front of so many scouts.
The tape will be far more important than a single showing in shorts, but Brdgewater didn't do himself any favors in the public eye.
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