2016 NFL Draft: Biggest Questions Heading into Pro-Day Circuit

Justis Mosqueda@justisfootballFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2016

2016 NFL Draft: Biggest Questions Heading into Pro-Day Circuit

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Three major events can impact a draft prospect's stock: his all-star game, the combine and his pro day. For most underclassmen, and all without bachelor degrees, all-star games are an unattainable goal. That leaves them with only two "mark on your calendar" dates. While we talk about draft stock constantly, there are only a few days in the draft cycle in which actual new information is thrown into the draft world.

    With all of the all-star games and the combine behind us, it's now pro-day season, where future NFL players have the chance to fill in the blanks left by the combine or get a second crack at making up for their numbers in Indianapolis.

    These eight players should be focused on their upcoming pro days. For some, their status after a disappointing combine effort is in question, while others simply didn't participate in certain crucial drills for their position, if at all. The pro-day situations for these eight prospects are going to be the most impactful in terms of the draft in April.

Antonio Morrison in General

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Pro Day: March 22

    Antonio Morrison is a talented linebacker in the mold of Chris Borland. He was an up-and-down player for the most of his career at the University of Florida, but he was able to put it all together in his senior season.

    There are plenty of questions about Morrison, both athletically and off the field, which he will need to answer at his pro day in Gainesville. Interviews with NFL scouts will start with "Why exactly did you skip the combine?" Previously, we've heard of players who didn't run in Indianapolis due to injury, but Morrison just didn't show up at all, even for the weigh-in.

    According to Josh Buchanan, who helps run the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, the rumor down at the combine was that Morrison was ill. That seems like a reasonable excuse until you hear stories about players like Darian Thompson, who lost seven pounds due to being sick and still ran, though disappointingly, per Tony Pauline of Walter Football.

    Morrison has multiple arrests in his past, one stemming from barking at a police K-9 and another from a bar fight, an incident that involved him yelling "I am Antonio." He also has "Don't Trust Me" tattooed on his arm. If an NFL team is going to select him in April, Morrison needs to prove his accountability first.

Laquon Treadwell's 40-Yard Dash

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    Pro Day: March 28

    The 40-yard dash is the most overrated drill at the combine as a whole. It might even be the least important timed drill at the entire event. With that being said, it matters more for the receiver position, one of the few where running for 40 yards is a legitimate possibility.

    Laquon Treadwell of Mississippi is viewed as the consensus top pass-catcher in the draft class. Per Play the Draft, a site that composites an individual's ranking to give us a stock-based look at draft prospects, Treadwell is ranked as the 12th overall player in the class with his stock hovering around the 13th overall pick. The next highest receiver is Corey Coleman of Baylor, who is ranked 22nd overall with a stock hovering around the 31st overall pick, the final selection in this year's first round.

    Treadwell is a large pass-catcher at 221 pounds and was never looked at as a deep threat. He didn't run or cut at the combine, as he elected to wait to do every drill other than the jumps at his pro day in Oxford. After his 33" vertical, which is in the 16th percentile of receivers, per Mock Draftable, and his 9'9" broad jump (27th percentile), his 40-yard dash might be worse than we previously had imagined.

    As long as he can run in the 4.5-second range at his pro day, he'll check the box. If he can't, though, it will raise a giant red flag.

Laremy Tunsil's Workout

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    Associated Press

    Pro Day: March 28

    Laremy Tunsil is the best player in the 2016 draft class. He's the most well-rounded offensive tackle prospect to come out of school since Joe Thomas, and he has the upside of Jonathan Ogden. If you draft him first overall, there's a chance the now 21-year-old is still your left bookend in 2030.

    He's currently ranked as Play the Draft's first overall prospect, and he seems to be the leader for the first overall pick. Other than his former teammate Robert Nkemdiche noting that Tunsil was in the hotel room where police found marijuana that Nkemdiche went to jail for, we learned nothing new about Tunsil during the week of the combine.

    One reason for that? He didn't participate in any of the timed drills. He looked great in positional drills, but for anything that could be written down on paper, other than his measurables, he punted for his pro day in Mississippi. Between him and Laquon Treadwell, his potential first-round teammate, Oxford will be the spot to be on March 28.

Noah Spence's Healthy Testing Numbers

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Pro Day: March 4

    After Von Miller's performance at the Super Bowl, everyone is looking for the next pass-rusher with elite speed and hip flexibility. The top edge defender in this class is Joey Bosa of Ohio State, a 269-pounder who plays more like a true 4-3 defensive end than a pure pass-rusher. Depending on who you ask, though, Noah Spence, his former teammate, is next in line.

    Spence was a Buckeye until two drug suspensions for Ecstasy led to his Big Ten ban. From there, he transferred to Eastern Kentucky for his final season, where he dominated his opponents, even the SEC's Kentucky Wildcats. He took his talents to the Senior Bowl, where he was the star of the week.

    All of this positive energy was building up for Spence to take the jump as "the pass-rusher" in the 2016 class. Unfortunately, he ran a 4.80-second 40-yard dash and a 7.21-second three-cone drill. Per Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, Spence injured his hamstring at the combine. With a short break before his pro day, for Spence's and the class' sake, he hopefully performs better during his second attempt at timed drills.

Darian Thompson's Healthy Testing Numbers

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Pro Day: March 31

    The excuse of non-visible sicknesses and injuries can always be a fragile topic when regarding combine results, but if Tony Pauline, one of the most plugged-in draft writers, reports news, you take it as fact. According to him, Darian Thompson, a Boise State safety, lost seven pounds due to illness during the week of the combine.

    Thompson's makeup exam will be at the end of March at Boise State's pro day. Thompson was trending upward on media boards after his strong week at the Senior Bowl, where the mid-major player was able to flash his skills in front of a national audience. He's a potential first-round pick who was hidden in the Mountain West, where he broke the conference's career interceptions record.

    In Indianapolis, Thompson recorded a 4.69-second 40-yard dash, 32.5" vertical jump, 9'10" broad jump, 7.26 three-cone drill and 4.33-second 20-yard shuttle. Those ranked in the 10th, 12th, 36th, ninth and 18th percentile of safeties, respectively, according to Mock Draftable.

Charles Tapper's Three-Cone Time

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Pro Day: March 9

    No more shocking number came out of the combine than Charles Tapper's 4.59-second 40-yard dash. If he were a 240-pound pass-rusher, that would be an impressive number. Instead, Tapper, an Oklahoma product, was a 271-pound 3-4 defensive end. To put that into perspective, J.J. Watt ran a "freaky" 4.81-second 40-yard dash and has been a dominant 3-4 defensive end during his entire NFL career.

    Tapper was originally an edge defender for the Sooners, even earning an All-Big 12 conference nod as a sophomore. In that same 2013 season, he ran down Amari Cooper, a future top-five pick receiver, from behind in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. Immediately after that game, though, Oklahoma switched its defense to a 3-4, where his best trait, his lower-body explosion, was hidden.

    He also had a 34" vertical jump and a 9'11" broad jump, impressive numbers for being 271 pounds. If his agility drills turn out as good as his other numbers, Tapper is going to be a fast riser, viewed as a freak athlete who was played in an incorrect role.

Myles Jack's Recovery

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    Associated Press

    Pro Day: March 15

    If you don't know who Myles Jack is at this point, you've been living under a rock. In 2013, he was the Pac-12's offensive and defensive freshman of the year, and he only improved over his subsequent two seasons. Unfortunately, his 2015 season was cut short due to a September knee injury.

    The linebacker is still recovering from a meniscus issue, and the earliest we might see the potential top-five pick run is at his pro day. Per Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register, UCLA is telling the media that Jack will run at the Bruins' March 15 pro day.

    Jason Cole of Bleacher Report refutes Jack's participation at UCLA's scheduled date, stating that he won't run until he's "100 percent." Whenever the linebacker is ready to go, his performance will be heavily scrutinized.

Hunter Henry's Workout

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    Samantha Baker/Associated Press

    Pro Day: March 16

    2016 features a weak tight end class. Bucky Hodges of Virginia Tech, O.J. Howard of Alabama, Jake Butt of Michigan and Evan Engram of Mississippi all returned to school. Had they declared, any one of them could have been the top tight end off the board.

    Instead, the current consensus top tight end is Hunter Henry of Arkansas. He is the 46th overall player on Play the Draft's composite board, with a stock of around the 47th overall pick. The only other tight end prospect in the top 100 is Austin Hooper of Stanford, who is the 68th overall prospect and is projected to come off the board around the 82nd pick.

    Henry, who is limited athletically but catches everything, chose not to run or jump at the combine. In his mid-March pro day, he will have to do everything. Teams badly need a mismatch pass-catching tight end, and if Henry doesn't prove he has a baseline of athleticism, they could turn to other projects, such as Hooper or Nick Vannett of Ohio State.


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