It gets eerily quiet in a stadium when a player lines up to run the 40-yard dash. You have to remember to breathe as you stand there, index finger poised on the button to start your timer, waiting for the runner to begin. For them, it's less than five seconds that can cause a gain or loss of millions of dollars. Especially if you're Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams.
Williams, at 6'4" and 218 pounds, needed to show scouts he could separate from defenders. The best way to do that after the season ends? Run the 40. Williams didn't run at the combine and instead focused on his March 16 pro day as the place to prove his doubters wrong.
A respectable mark for Williams, according to a scout I spoke to, was "anything below 4.6" seconds. No pressure.
When the times were tallied, Williams clocked between 4.55 and 4.58, according to scouts I spoke to who were in attendance. The media throng reported an unofficial time of 4.50, but that's the fastest mark being shared and should be disregarded as an outlier.
What's this mean for Williams? If he was already your top receiver in this class—and for me, he is—then you keep him in that spot. If you didn't like Williams' game before now, the 4.55 time probably won't change anything.
Here's what else is on tap for this week:
- Updated two-round mock draft
- How the Patriots build from year to year
- Five names to know
- Should top prospects sit out pro days?
The Scout's Report
—The Clemson pro day wasn't just about Williams. This is a national title team loaded with talent. Williams' 40 time was notable because he's Clemson's top-ranked prospect on my board, but it's worth running down the rest of the talent on the field.
Deshaun Watson: Arm-strength concerns have followed Watson for the last two seasons on film and aren't going away after he was clocked at 49 miles per hour on the radar gun in Indianapolis. The pro day workout showed some of these same issues, according to a scout who was there: "He just doesn't have a big arm. That's not who he is. Closer to Alex Smith than Marcus Mariota."
Cordrea Tankersley: "We really like his length and wiring. Much tougher than that kid last year [Mackensie Alexander]" is what I got back about Tankersley, who had a strong workout, according to scouts in attendance.
Jordan Leggett: Other than Williams, Leggett drew the most positive reviews from scouts I text with. "He's so natural and powerful," said one scout. Another added: "Probably a top-50 player in a normal draft class."
Carlos Watkins: Watkins is a good athlete, but one scout told me they knocked him hard on his motor in team meetings. By all accounts from scouts at the pro day, Watkins looked good moving, and I'm told the Detroit Lions were impressed by it.
Ben Boulware: "I love the kid, but we won't draft him. He's too small, too slow" is what a scout at the pro day texted me about the enigmatic linebacker prospect. I agree, with the 6'0", 238-pound Boulware ranked No. 262 on my current board.
Wayne Gallman: The junior tailback turned in unofficial 4.58 times on two runs, per a scout at the workout. That's not a great mark for Gallman, but it's consistent with his combine timings. Gallman's time announced by the school was 4.52, but scouts use their own numbers for consistency.
Artavis Scott: A junior entry, one scout said Scott made a poor decision in coming out this year. "He knew he wasn't going to get targets next year with [Deon] Cain emerging, so he left. I don't think he'll get drafted."
—First-round prospect Sidney Jones tore his Achilles tendon during the last minutes of the Washington pro day last weekend. How does this affect his draft stock? Maybe not as much as you think. "He's off our Round 1 board if he can't play this year, but we're hearing it's maybe not that bad" is what one team told me. Another said they would likely knock down Jones "two to three rounds" if it was a complete tear.
A routine Achilles injury could cost Jones his rookie season, putting him into a redshirt situation for 2017, but everyone heals differently. If his post-surgery report looks good, he could still be a late-first-rounder.
—Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis was arrested this week and faces a domestic violence charge following a fight at home with his girlfriend. As always, it takes time for these situations to become clear, and everyone should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
NFL teams may not have that luxury, though. With the draft in six weeks, Lewis' legal situation may not be solved. That, said one director of player personnel, makes it a tough evaluation. "If he's facing domestic violence charges, he'll be off our board completely," said the director.
—A lot of space has been spent on Joe Mixon in this column over the last year, and he will only be talked about more in the next six weeks. After speaking with Mixon last week, I was blown away by his maturity and honesty. If he's the same person when meeting with NFL teams—who will no doubt work harder to push his buttons and see if they'll get a reaction—his stock will continue to rise.
I've shared in the past that one area scout I know graded Mixon as a Round 1 talent. Following his pro day last week, that scout texted me: "Mixon making my Rd1 grade look smart today."
—The Tennessee Titans have two first-round picks this year, thanks to a trade with the Los Angeles Rams, and I'm told by a rival general manager that upgrading the tight end position will be a key priority. "They're gonna want to do that New England thing with two tight ends. Watch and see."
—Marshon Lattimore has been connected to many teams in the top 10, but a team scout I spoke to this week didn't have Lattimore in its top five cornerbacks. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I have a hard time not valuing him as a top-15 player, even with his hamstring injury history.
—"Remember last year how you fell in love with Ryan Kelly the more you watched? That'll happen with Forrest Lamp. He's special," one NFC offensive line coach said. I need to get to more Lamp cut-ups and not full-game views soon. Right now there's a Round 1 grade next to his name on my board.
5 Names to Know
5. Defensive Lineman Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte
The 2017 defensive tackle class isn't great in terms of overall talent, which could lead those teams missing out on Solomon Thomas or Jonathan Allen to look for a sleeper pass-rusher. Larry Ogunjobi should be tops on that list.
A 6'3", 305-pounder I've compared to Grady Jarrett, Ogunjobi is a naturally quick interior rusher with a dynamic first step and eye-opening athleticism. He's an ideal 3-technique and impressed during Senior Bowl and combine workouts. A top-75 grade is possible for the small-schooler.
4. Cornerback Xavier Coleman, Portland State
Here's a deep sleeper for cornerback fans. Fifteen teams attended Coleman's pro day at Portland State, and he posted impressive numbers, including a 4.46-second 40-yard dash with a 1.56-second 10-yard split. Coleman, at 5'11 ½" and 190 pounds, also vertical-jumped 40" and broad-jumped 10'5", according to his agent. The All-Big Sky first-teamer is worth checking out.
3. Edge-Rusher Charles Harris, Missouri
A top-15 player may seem out of place in a "Names to Know" section, but the Missouri defensive end isn't getting enough love. Harris didn't have a great season statistically in 2016 (nine sacks), but he was asked to play as more of a two-gapping defender and control the run at the point of attack. He's not made to play head-up on an offensive tackle and should be freed to go in space—like he did in 2015 when he collected 18.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Harris should be in the conversation as a mid-first-rounder.
2. Safety Justin Evans, Texas A&M
Evans has impressed on tape for the last two years, so it's no surprise to see him moving up my board each time I do another evaluation. An athletic, lean safety prospect who isn't known for his love of tackling, Evans may actually split time at cornerback for some NFL teams. A natural playmaker at free safety, he'll be coveted by franchises running deep-thirds coverage, given his ability as a center fielder.
1. Linebacker Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
An impact linebacker with the skills to play middle or outside in a 4-3 scheme, McMillan should get top-50 talk as the draft nears. He displayed athleticism at the combine, and his tape shows a good nose for the ball and the toughness to step up and fill gaps. If I'm running a 4-3 and need a "Sam" 'backer, McMillan would be interesting in Round 2.
The Mock Draft
It's mock draft season, friends!
NFL free agency has a way of changing everything we think regarding team needs and does a great job of helping to narrow down the list of fits for each franchise. After the first wave of signings, here's what I'm hearing about where teams will go in Rounds 1 and 2:
|Updated Mock Draft|
|1||Cleveland||DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M|
|2||San Francisco||RB Leonard Fournette, LSU|
|3||Chicago||S Jamal Adams, LSU|
|4||Jacksonville||DL Solomon Thomas, Stanford|
|5||Tennessee (from Rams)||S Malik Hooker, Ohio State|
|6||NY Jets||QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina|
|7||LA Chargers||CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State|
|8||Carolina||WR John Ross, Washington|
|9||Cincinnati||LB Reuben Foster, Alabama|
|10||Buffalo||DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama|
|11||New Orleans||QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson|
|12||Cleveland (from Eagles)||WR Mike Williams, Clemson|
|13||Arizona||WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan|
|14||Philadelphia||CB Quincy Wilson, Florida|
|15||Indianapolis||CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State|
|16||Baltimore||RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State|
|17||Washington||LB Haason Reddick, Temple|
|18||Tennessee||TE O.J. Howard, Alabama|
|19||Tampa Bay||CB Tre'Davious White, LSU|
|20||Denver||RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford|
|21||Detroit||DE Taco Charlton, Michigan|
|22||Miami||TE David Njoku, Miami|
|23||NY Giants||DL Caleb Brantley, Florida|
|24||Oakland||DL Montravius Adams, Auburn|
|25||Houston||QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech|
|26||Seattle||OT Garett Bolles, Utah|
|27||Kansas City||RB Joe Mixon, Oklahoma|
|28||Dallas||DE Charles Harris, Missouri|
|29||Green Bay||OG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky|
|30||Pittsburgh||OLB Takkarist McKinley, UCLA|
|31||Atlanta||DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee|
|32||New Orleans (from Patriots)||DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State|
|33||Cleveland||S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan|
|34||San Francisco||DE Ryan Anderson, Alabama|
|35||Jacksonville||QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame|
|36||Chicago||OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin|
|37||LA Rams||CB Kevin King, Washington|
|38||LA Chargers||S Budda Baker, Washington|
|39||NY Jets||RB Alvin Kamara, Tennessee|
|40||Carolina||CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama|
|41||Cincinnati||WR Zay Jones, East Carolina|
|42||New Orleans||CB/S Obi Melifonwu, UConn|
|43||Philadelphia||DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State|
|44||Buffalo||QB Nate Peterman, Pitt|
|45||Arizona||LB Jarrad Davis, Florida|
|46||Indianapolis||LB Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State|
|47||Baltimore||CB Sidney Jones, Washington|
|48||Minnesota||OT Cam Robinson, Alabama|
|49||Washington||QB Davis Webb, California|
|50||Tampa Bay||OG Dan Feeney, Indiana|
|51||Denver||S Justin Evans, Texas A&M|
|52||Cleveland (from Titans)||CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado|
|53||Detroit||CB Adoree' Jackson, USC|
|54||Miami||CB Fabian Moreau, UCLA|
|55||NY Giants||LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt|
|56||Oakland||TE Evan Engram, Ole Miss|
|57||Houston||LB T.J. Watt, Wisconsin|
|58||Seattle||CB Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson|
|59||Kansas City||EDGE Joe Mathis, Washington|
|60||Dallas||S Marcus Maye, Florida|
|61||Green Bay||WR Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington|
|62||Pittsburgh||S Desmond King, Iowa|
|63||Atlanta||OG Dion Dawkins, Temple|
|64||Carolina (from Patriots)||S Marcus Williams, Utah|
10. The news of Sidney Jones' pro day injury was crushing, even if the long-term prognosis isn't a major setback. For years, pro days were a great platform for players who weren't on scouts' radars at small schools and for players who didn't get a Senior Bowl or combine invite. They still are. But when you're a top prospect like Jones, should you really test once at the combine in late February and then again two weeks later at a pro day? It seems like once should be enough.
For quarterbacks, I've always advocated that as much throwing as you can do in the predraft process—do it. But for cornerbacks, wide receivers and running backs, how many times do we really need to see you run a 40 or do a W-drill?
Let's be honest: Pro days aren't benefiting the player as much as they serve as a great mid-March story for media and as an excellent recruiting tool for colleges. Jones wasn't going to help his stock at his pro day—I'd argue it's incredibly rare to see a major increase in a player's value post-pro day. For future top players, saying "no thank you" to a pro day workout is something to consider.
9. The New England Patriots don't have a pick in the 2017 draft until No. 72 overall, but already Bill Belichick has retooled the roster through trades and free-agent signings. And they're not done yet, with free-agent cornerback Malcolm Butler potentially on the move and the option to trade Jimmy Garoppolo still out there. In one week, Belichick reloaded his offense and added a replacement for Jabaal Sheard and/or Chris Long at defensive end.
|New England Patriots Roster Moves|
|TE Dwayne Allen||Trade: pick No. 137 for Allen, pick No. 200|
|WR Brandin Cooks||Trade: picks Nos. 32, 103 for Cooks, pick No. 118|
|DE Kony Ealy||Trade: pick No. 64 for Ealy, pick No. 72|
|CB Stephon Gilmore||free agency|
|DL Lawrence Guy||free agency|
|RB Rex Burkhead||free agency|
More than any other team in the NFL, the Patriots and Belichick build year-to-year. Gone are Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins—two players thought of one year ago as long-term building blocks—and soon Butler could be gone, too. Because of smart drafting, free-agent signings and great coaching, the Patriots can continue to plug in pieces around quarterback Tom Brady and keep winning.
8. As mentioned above, Butler could be on the move. As a restricted free agent, Butler is able to visit and sign an offer sheet with other teams. The Patriots have the right to match that offer or let Butler leave for a compensatory draft pick. In this case, the team tagged Butler with a first-round tender, so any franchise signing Butler would forfeit a premium draft pick.
There are ways around this, of course. The New Orleans Saints hosted Butler and could work out a long-term contract with him and then negotiate a trade with the Patriots that might not include their own first-round pick (No. 11 overall).
Is it possible the Saints will return the Patriots' first-round pick gained in the Brandin Cooks deal (No. 32 overall), making this essentially a player-for-player deal? It is. The reason it wasn't originally done as a player swap is that Butler hadn't yet signed his RFA tender. The Patriots can trade him once he does.
If the Saints want to offer No. 32 overall, the New England could be smart to grab it back from them in exchange for a player it's going to eventually lose to free agency.
7. It's time to update the quarterback carousel after another week of free agency and trades.
- Jets: Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg are on the roster. The team is trying to add a veteran.
- Browns: The Browns traded for Brock Osweiler, but they absolutely still need a quarterback. With five selections in the first 65 picks, the Browns can still be aggressive in trying to trade for Garoppolo or Kirk Cousins if they don't like this quarterback crop.
- Texans: Sending Osweiler and a second-round pick to Cleveland reset the short- and long-term options at quarterback in Houston. The Texans are expected to be in on Tony Romo but could also draft a quarterback of the future.
- Broncos: Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch are both well-liked, but will John Elway go in on Romo? If so, Siemian could be moved and a late-rounder could be added for developmental purposes.
- Washington: How long will Cousins be around? Who is calling the shots here? There could be a major change coming at quarterback soon. Regardless of Cousins' status for 2017, Washington must draft a quarterback to develop behind him and Colt McCoy.
- Bears: Mike Glennon's signing doesn't change anything. The Bears could still draft a quarterback in the first two rounds.
- 49ers: Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley give the 49ers time to find a quarterback. If John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan love one at No. 2 overall, they can still make a move. If they don't, there's no pressure to reach. A rookie should be added at some point in the draft.
6. This week's Scouting in 140 takes a look at the top of this year's impressive tight end class. First up is top-10 talent O.J. Howard:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Howard: Total package. Excellent blocker. Freak speed/length. Can move around formation. Never featured/never pouted. A+ TE. Top 10 player.3/16/2017, 6:52:46 PM
5. David Njoku:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Njoku: Easy to love. Burst is crazy. Raw player w/room to grow. Can play any alignment. Has some drops w/big catch radius. All upside. Top153/16/2017, 6:55:31 PM
4. Evan Engram:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Engram: WR build/WR speed. Simple route tree. Jordan Reed clone. Can't play inline, matchup nightmare in space w/speed & catch radius. Top503/16/2017, 6:54:01 PM
3. Jake Butt:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Butt: ACL inj drops him 1-2 rds. All-around player w/avg. speed and quicks. Makes traffic grabs. Blocker w/power. Easy comp = Jason Witten3/16/2017, 6:58:42 PM
2. Jordan Leggett:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Leggett: Throwback, 3-down TE. Makes grabs away from frame. Big hands. Concentration is ++. Motor is questionable. Speed is avg. Top 753/16/2017, 6:57:24 PM
1. Gerald Everett:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Everett: Small school/small frame. Moves like a WR. Burst > speed. Very raw route runner. Ideal flex TE/h-back. Sold on upside. Top753/16/2017, 7:00:32 PM
Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.
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