NFL general managers are paid big money to be decision-makers. Who to sign, who to cut, what trades to take and which to turn down. But at the heart of running the team, you must be able to identify and evaluate talent. And that's why pro days are huge. But what do you do when multiple Power Five schools schedule a pro day on the same date? "Run like hell" is what one general manager told me.
You also delegate.
One team I spoke with sends the general manager to one workout and the director of college scouting to another while keeping the director of player personnel in-office to run the phones and focus on free agency and setting the draft board. You always want one guy with decision-making ability there. Just in case. For the other pro days, scouts will be assigned to hit them and update the numbers in the team's database following the workout.
As teams hit the road on Thursday for pro days at Missouri, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Stanford, here's what's happening in the world of the NFL.
- Updated one-round mock draft
- Another top player hurt at a pro day
- Five names to know
- Scouting in 140
- Fixing the Cleveland Browns
The Scout's Report
Ohio State pro day recap:
—NFL Network's Kimberly Jones reported Bill Belichick, Todd Bowles, Mike Tomlin, Hue Jackson, John Harbaugh, Mike Mularkey, Sean Payton, Jim Caldwell and Marvin Lewis were all in attendance, as well as seven NFL general managers, including the New York Jets' Mike Maccagnan and Marc Ross, vice president of player evaluation for the New York Giants.
—Top players Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore, Patrick Elflein, Curtis Samuel and Raekwon McMillan all chose to stand on their NFL Scouting Combine 40-yard dash times and did not run, per Jacob Myers of The Lantern.
—Linebacker McMillan went through drills during the workout, and a scout at the event texted me that he looked "smooth, easy-moving, caught the ball well. We like him in Round 2."
—Conley and Lattimore stood on their combine numbers, but both went through drills. A coach at the workout texted that Lattimore "is one of the best athletes I've ever seen at corner. He should be a top-five pick."
—Said another scout, "these two [corners] could be the first two off the board. They're damn near perfect."
Missouri pro day recap:
—Edge-rusher Charles Harris improved his vertical jump with a 37.5-inch leap, up from 32 inches at the combine. He was also timed at 7.03 seconds in the three-cone.
—Harris did drill work, and a scout who was on the scene texted: "I don't care what his 40 time was, this kid can bend." Said another, "Where was the production as a [redshirt junior]? He was average. Not a fan."
—Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter, Jets linebackers coach Kevin Greene and Bengals linebackers coach Jim Haslett were all spotted at the workout, according to Twitter posts from local media.
Stanford pro day recap:
—San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was on hand for the Stanford pro day, as was Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, according to a source with the team.
—Christian McCaffrey and Solomon Thomas opted to stand on their combine testing times and did drill work only.
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—McCaffrey did work at both running back and wide receiver, showing off his hands and route-running ability.
Notre Dame pro day recap:
—Quarterback DeShone Kizer took snaps under center during his workout, and a scout at the event told me he looked "amazing." Former Notre Dame wide receiver Corey Robinson, son of Hall of Fame basketball player David Robinson, was one of Kizer's receivers.
—A Notre Dame source confirmed 27 NFL teams were in attendance for Thursday's workout. San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch was one of those at the event.
—Said one scout, "Kizer's feet are really improved. You can tell he's been working." Another praised the quarterback's poise and leadership on the field during the drills. And finally, one high-level scout complained that Kizer was throwing to "scrubs" who aren't NFL quality, which affected his timing.
—The New Orleans Saints could go many directions with two first-round selections in this year's draft, but I'm told by a scouting source with the team that they are in "win-now" mode and will look to plug holes in the secondary and at defensive end in Round 1.
—A potential target for the Saints at the end of the first round is Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis. His stock is red hot right now, with already 13 team visits and/or workouts scheduled. I'm told by the same Saints source that they spent considerable time with Willis at the Senior Bowl and combine.
—With the New York Jets signing quarterback Josh McCown, don't rule out a selection of another passer with the No. 6 overall pick. The Jets are a best-player-available team, and if they love North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky, they could easily run with four quarterbacks on the roster again this year.
—ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell was worked out by Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman at his pro day. The Vikings don't have a first-round selection but could target McDowell in Round 2.
—Could Johnny Manziel resurface in New Orleans? NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Manziel has drawn the interest of Sean Payton. With Drew Brees nearing the end of his career, New Orleans would be an interesting landing spot for Manziel to make his NFL return.
—Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes is red hot with NFL teams right now following a strong combine. I'm told by one team scout that the quarterback worked out with the New Orleans Saints and has visits scheduled or has already met with the Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, Browns and Chicago Bears.
5 Names to Know
5. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado
We're in an age of versatility in the NFL, and Colorado's Chidobe Awuzie is a jack-of-all-trades in the secondary. He's played inside and outside cornerback and even some safety, which is why teams are starting to warm up to the idea that Awuzie could be a late first-rounder. One scout I spoke with compared him to Damarious Randall in terms of readiness and versatility.
4. Linebacker Dylan Cole, Missouri State
A deep sleeper, Dylan Cole's pro day on Wednesday was very impressive. He rocked out 32 reps of 225 pounds on the bench, ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash (unofficial), had a 39-inch vertical jump and a 10'5" broad jump and ran a 4.02 short shuttle and 6.82 three-cone drill. Those numbers should be enough to at least get Cole in the conversation as an NFL linebacker prospect. He's 6'0 ½" and 239 pounds, so a bit undersized, but the athleticism and production are worthy of a late-round selection.
3. Edge-rusher Tyus Bowser, Houston
As my team gets ready for NFL Draft 400 final reports, I sent my top 300 around to a handful of NFL contacts. Two of those people replied that we need to revisit Tyus Bowser. So we did. And he's moving up.
Bowser, a 6'3", 247-pound defensive weapon, can play with his hand in the dirt or standing up off the edge. He's a top-tier athlete, and one team I spoke with feels like he could be molded into an excellent pass-rusher in nickel situations. Bowser's name will start heating up, with a good shot he makes it into the top two rounds.
2. Tackle Collin Buchanan, Miami (OH)
In a bad offensive tackle class, scouts are looking everywhere for a viable starter. Collin Buchanan is a little raw, but he's intriguing as a prospect given his hand quickness and toughness. He's most likely a guard at the next level due to his shorter arms (32 ⅜"), but he has the feet to pull and trap and can be effective as a zone blocker.
1. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois
If you're a longtime reader, you know I love big wide receivers. This year's class is full of size, but here's a sleeper to keep an eye on. Golladay had 87 catches for 1,156 yards this past season and can be a red-zone mismatch in the pros. His route running needs work, and he doesn't have the pure speed (4.50) to run past defenders, but at 6'4" and 218 pounds, he can be physical and box out cornerbacks.
The Mock Draft
It's mock draft season, friends!
Trades, signings, cuts and pro day workouts have drastically changed the NFL landscape. Here's a look at what I'm hearing each team will do in Round 1:
|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)||CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State|
|6||NY Jets||QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina|
|7||LA Chargers||S Malik Hooker, Ohio State|
|8||Carolina||CB Quincy Wilson, Florida|
|9||Cincinnati||LB Reuben Foster, Alabama|
|10||Buffalo||TE O.J. Howard, Alabama|
|11||New Orleans||CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State|
|12||Cleveland (from Eagles)||QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson|
|13||Arizona||WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan|
|14||Philadelphia (from Vikings)||WR Mike Williams, Clemson|
|15||Indianapolis||EDGE Charles Harris, Missouri|
|16||Baltimore||EDGE Taco Charlton, Michigan|
|17||Washington||DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama|
|18||Tennessee||TE David Njoku, Miami (FL)|
|19||Tampa Bay||RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford|
|20||Denver||OT Garett Bolles, Utah|
|21||Detroit||DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee|
|22||Miami||LB Haason Reddick, Temple|
|23||NY Giants||OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin|
|24||Oakland||RB Joe Mixon, Oklahoma|
|25||Houston||QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech|
|26||Seattle||OG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky|
|27||Kansas City||QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame|
|28||Dallas||S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan|
|29||Green Bay||EDGE T.J. Watt, Wisconsin|
|30||Pittsburgh||EDGE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA|
|31||Atlanta||DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State|
|32||New Orleans (from Patriots)||DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State|
10. Many have asked what I would do to fix a team since mock drafts are based on what I'm hearing teams will do and not an opinion on what they should do. Using Fanspeak's On the Clock tool, here's my seven-round mock draft on how I'd fix the Cleveland Browns:
|Fixing the Cleveland Browns|
|1/1||DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M|
|1/12||QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson|
|2/33||S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan|
|2/52||CB Tre'Davious White, LSU|
|3/65||WR Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington|
|4/108||TE George Kittle, Iowa|
|5/145||RB James Conner, Pitt|
|5/175||OT J.J. Dielman, Utah|
|5/181||CB Jalen Myrick, Minnesota|
|6/185||S Jadar Johnson, Clemson|
|6/188||LB Steven Taylor, Houston|
9. If you're into the behind-the-scenes aspect of this business, you'll love the The MMQB's piece "24 Hours with Adam Schefter" covering the first day of free agency. It's a six-minute video with accompanying article and really peels back the curtain on what the best news-breaker in the business does on his busiest day of the year.
8. Another week, another top cornerback prospect hurt at a pro day. After last week's rant about Sidney Jones tearing his Achilles at the Washington pro day, it's frustrating to see UCLA's Fabian Moreau tearing a pectoral muscle during the bench press at the UCLA workout.
Moreau, who battled all season and went to the Shrine Game to prove himself as a top competitor, will now see his draft stock fall because of a late-process injury. Here's a kid who has risen through the ranks and was a potential late first-rounder. And all that progress goes down the drain so scouts can record a cornerback doing 225-pound bench press reps.
I understand the sacred tools of scouting and the idea that we need numbers for historic cross-comparisons, but there has to be a better way. When two top cornerbacks are hurt in the same draft class doing workouts they've done already, it's gotten too far.
7. Late March is an important time of year for NFL scouting departments because of pro day workouts, but also because this is when you start to get into the really substantive discussions (or arguments) in scouting meetings about player rankings.
As the board gets stacked, a good director of college scouting or general manager is leading the room in hot debates about strengths, weaknesses, wiring and injuries. You don't want to be the "yes man" scout, so standing up and defending your report and your guy is important. That's where the phrase "stand on the table for" comes from. Are you willing to stand on the table for your guy?
Over the years, I've stood on the table for players like Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Peters with some success, and others like Luke Joeckel and Teddy Bridgewater, which haven't worked out so far (one due to injury). But in this business, it's OK to stand on the table when you truly believe in a player.
My "on the table" guys for this year are still being decided, but it's a safe bet that Christian McCaffrey and Quincy Wilson will be on that list.
6. This week's Scouting in 140 takes a look at the top of this year's underrated linebacker class. First up is top-10 talent Reuben Foster:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Foster: Elite range/load. Alpha. Mean hitter. Good in coverage. 34I or 43W. Attacker. Smooth hips, quick feet. Quick diagnosis. Top 5 player2017-3-23 18:52:44
5. Zach Cunningham:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Cunningham: Long/lean. Arm tackler. Big stats w/high missed tackles. Avg. strength. Fast/explosive skills. Range ++. Raw canvas. Top 502017-3-23 18:53:48
4. Jarrad Davis:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Davis: '15 tape > '16. Jacked, tough player. High football IQ/wiring. Range can wow you. Missteps to the ball. ++ tackler. Few holes. Top 322017-3-23 18:55:28
3. Haason Reddick:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Reddick: stock ⬆️. Love his fire. Versatile. Can play in space or hand down. Speed/dip to rush. Eyes to locate off-ball. Fast w/range. Rd12017-3-23 18:57:42
2. T.J. Watt:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Watt: Raw, learning the game. Strong w/length. Uses hands, arms like a pro. Needs to add strength. Arrow up. Lives around the ball. Rd12017-3-23 18:58:55
1. Raekwon McMillan:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
McMillan: Great downhill. Read-n-react player. Ideal SAM LB. Quick in space. Fiery. Always moving. Can be a tight hipped. Top 502017-3-23 19:04:15
Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.