Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Latest Pro Day Buzz and Updated 2017 Mock Draft

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterMarch 24, 2017

PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 22:  Solomon Thomas #90 of the Stanford Cardinal warms up before an NCAA Pac-12 football game against the University of Colorado Buffaloes played on October 22, 2016 at Stanford Stadium on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.  Also visible is Diron Reynolds, Stanford Assistant Defensive Line Coach (at far left); Tyrone McKenzie, Stanford Defensive Assistant (with visor);
and players Jordan Watkins #75 and Harrison Phillips #66.   (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
David Madison/Getty Images

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.

DB Marshon Lattimore has top-five draft potential.
DB Marshon Lattimore has top-five draft potential.Paul Vernon/Associated Press/Associated Press

—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.

—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.

QB DeShone Kizer
QB DeShone KizerNam Y. Huh/Associated Press/Associated Press

—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.

QB Mitchell Trubisky could be the first signal-caller off the board.
QB Mitchell Trubisky could be the first signal-caller off the board.Gerry Broome/Associated Press/Associated Press

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 

Edge-rusher Tyus Bowser is moving up draft boards.
Edge-rusher Tyus Bowser is moving up draft boards.Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

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 "), 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
1ClevelandDE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
2San FranciscoRB Leonard Fournette, LSU
3ChicagoS Jamal Adams, LSU
4JacksonvilleDL Solomon Thomas, Stanford
5Tennessee (from Rams)CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
6NY JetsQB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
7LA ChargersS Malik Hooker, Ohio State
8CarolinaCB Quincy Wilson, Florida
9CincinnatiLB Reuben Foster, Alabama
10BuffaloTE O.J. Howard, Alabama
11New OrleansCB Gareon Conley, Ohio State
12Cleveland (from Eagles)QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
13ArizonaWR Corey Davis, Western Michigan
14Philadelphia (from Vikings)WR Mike Williams, Clemson
15IndianapolisEDGE Charles Harris, Missouri
16BaltimoreEDGE Taco Charlton, Michigan
17WashingtonDL Jonathan Allen, Alabama
18TennesseeTE David Njoku, Miami (FL)
19Tampa BayRB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
20DenverOT Garett Bolles, Utah
21DetroitDE Derek Barnett, Tennessee
22MiamiLB Haason Reddick, Temple
23NY GiantsOT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
24OaklandRB Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
25HoustonQB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
26SeattleOG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
27Kansas CityQB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
28DallasS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
29Green BayEDGE T.J. Watt, Wisconsin
30PittsburghEDGE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
31AtlantaDL Malik McDowell, Michigan State
32New Orleans (from Patriots)DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State
Matt Miller


Parting Shots 

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
1/1DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
1/12QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
2/33S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
2/52CB Tre'Davious White, LSU
3/65WR Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
4/108TE George Kittle, Iowa
5/145RB James Conner, Pitt
5/175OT J.J. Dielman, Utah
5/181CB Jalen Myrick, Minnesota
6/185S Jadar Johnson, Clemson
6/188LB Steven Taylor, Houston
Matt Miller

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. 

CB Fabian Moreau
CB Fabian MoreauSean M. Haffey/Getty Images

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 player

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 50

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 32

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. Rd1

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. Rd1

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 50

Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.


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