2016 NFL Draft: Biggest Red Flags from the Pro Day Circuit

Justis Mosqueda@justisfootballFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2016

2016 NFL Draft: Biggest Red Flags from the Pro Day Circuit

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    Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

    As it stands, only two major schools, West Virginia and Texas A&M, have yet to hold their pro days. This means, for the most part, all relevant information that will come out during the draft cycle is already on the table.

    Declarations? Done. All-star games? Done. The combine? Done. With two more pro days to go, it's full steam ahead to draft week.

    After going over pro day results for this class, there are some clear questions or red flags that jump out on paper. Be it injury or athleticism related, six players stand above the rest as having net negative pro days.

Noah Spence's Athleticism

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Noah Spence was an early star at Ohio State before two drug suspensions, which he has stated he failed due to ecstasy, led to him being banned from Big Ten play. Transferring to Eastern Kentucky after missing the 2014 season, Spence's final year in school was a success, as he earned 11.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for losses in 11 games with the Colonels.

    As a first-hand witness of his effort at the Senior Bowl, he was the best pure pass-rusher at the event. Unfortunately, outside of Jason Spriggs of Indiana, who is more of an athlete than a finished product, he never faced a top-100 tackle in Mobile, Alabama.

    The last time that he went toe-to-toe against NFL-caliber bookends was during the 2013 season, over two years ago. At the combine, he had a surprisingly pedestrian week.

    For his pro day, he stood on all of his times, other than his 40-yard dash, which he only improved by a five-100ths of a second.

    According to Dan Parr of NFL.com, Spence's pro day didn't bring in a single NFL general manager or head coach.

    As far as top-100 picks go, the best "tweener" pass-rusher who didn't have great athleticism on paper in the last decade is likely Jabaal Sheard, who was allowed to hit free agency by the Cleveland Browns last offseason, after being drafted 37th overall in 2011. Is that the type of player you want to draft in the first round?

Myles Jack's Blank Spots

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Myles Jack very well may be a top-five pick as either an off-the-ball linebacker or safety in this coming draft, despite the fact that he's coming off of a knee injury, which includes a meniscus issue. Because of the injury, he didn't participate at the combine in Indianapolis.

    At UCLA's pro day last month, Jack posted a 40-inch vertical jump and a 10'4" broad jump, but that's where his athletic testing ended. Per Mike Silver of NFL Network, Jack cancelled his recent workout, the one in which he was supposed to run his 40-yard dash, and he might not run for franchises at all.

    Is Jack's camp hiding something? Is he not ready to play football just yet? Medical rechecks in Indianapolis will be big for Jack, who now has cemented question marks in every one of his scouting reports.

Charles Tapper's Complete Athletic Testing

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Charles Tapper of Oklahoma has one of the more interesting narratives of any player in this draft cycle. As a sophomore, he was an All-Big 12 defensive end, with the exclamation point to his season being when he ran down Amari Cooper in the Sooners' Sugar Bowl victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

    After that, the team switched to a 3-4 defense, which converted the defensive end position from a primary pass-rusher to a four-point stance run defender. In that role, his burst, his best attribute, was limited. At the combine, he was able to flash his lower body explosion, posting a 10-yard split of 1.59 seconds, the same mark that Jadeveon Clowney, the 2014 draft's first overall selection, hit.

    Due to a hamstring issue, though, Tapper didn't finish his agility drills, meaning his three-cone and short shuttle times weren't recorded at Lucas Oil Stadium. Tapper stood on his combine times, but he didn't post agility scores at Oklahoma's pro day, either. This leads to an important question: Is Charles Tapper a tremendous overall athlete, or is he simply a linear athlete?

Kolby Listenbee's Day 1 Potential

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The TCU receiver everyone has grown to love is Josh Doctson, Trevone Boykin's favorite target. The Horned Frogs had another future NFL receiver on their 2015 squad, Kolby Listenbee, who is a speedster.

    At the combine, Listenbee ran a 40-yard dash of 4.39 seconds, good for the 92nd percentile of receivers, per Mock Draftable. The TCU product only caught 74 passes in his college career, but he's a legitimate track star who was injured for most of his senior season.

    We knew he sustained a hip injury in Week 3 of 2015, but the extent of it wasn't known until recently. According to an interview with Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Listenbee was playing "off a cortisone shot" for four months.

    This week, Walter Football's Tony Pauline broke the news on the receiver undergoing sports hernia surgery, likely the same "hip" injury which bugged him in 2015. If he was 4.3-second fast while he was still injured, how fast is he healthy?

    The question now is when he will finally come back to full strength, since he wasn't ready to go at TCU's pro day. As a probable Day 3 player, he will need as much time with his future team as possible in the offseason.

The Status of the Cornerback Class

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    It's fairly evident, at least by media projections, that there are five cornerbacks considered to be first-round types in this draft class, per Bleacher Report's Matt Miller. Two of them, Vernon Hargreaves III and Mackensie Alexander, are either 5'10 1/2" or shorter. For many teams, that will disqualify them from being potential outside cornerbacks, considering the league is trending more toward longer defenders every season.

    With the other three corners from the group of five being Jalen Ramsey, William Jackson III and Eli Apple, it's anyone's guess how the Day 2 cornerbacks come off the board.

    Two candidates for who might be the first defensive back taken on the Friday of the draft week are Will Redmond of Mississippi State and Kendall Fuller of Virginia Tech.

    Unfortunately, their injury issues are keeping them from participating in pre-draft workouts. Redmond is still recovering from an ACL injury that ended his season, and Fuller is battling back from a meniscus issue. If healthy, they could have pushed themselves into that upper tier at the position.

Laquon Treadwell's Speed

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    There are very few positions where running in a straight line for 40 yards is a realistic assignment. One of those roles is wideout. Laquon Treadwell of Mississippi seems to be the consensus top receiver in this draft class, but he didn't have a great combine after only doing the bench press, vertical jump and broad jump in Indianapolis.

    At his pro day, Treadwell posted a 4.63-second 40-yard dash, a 4.29-second short shuttle, a three-cone of 7.05 seconds and a vertical jump of 33.5 inches. Last season, Vic Beasley, a defensive lineman, beat all of those marks, while being 25 pounds heavier.

    Some will point to the success of players like Anquan Boldin and Jarvis Landry as reasons for combine measurements not mattering as much for tough pass-catchers, but anyone claiming Boldin or Landry are worth top-20 selections are mistaken. For the most part, game-changing receivers aren't limited in the ways Treadwell is on paper.


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