2019 NFL Draft: Biggest Winners and Losers of Pro Days so Far

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2019

2019 NFL Draft: Biggest Winners and Losers of Pro Days so Far

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    Redemption or the desire to impress NFL scouts and executives can bring the best out of draft prospects at their pro days.

    When a player runs a subpar 40 time at the NFL Scouting Combine, he can turn on the burners in the friendly confines of his campus to change the narrative. Those who didn't participate in the workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium have a chance at a first impression on team representatives.

    The combine garners widespread attention, but the pro day can also significantly help or hurt an incoming rookie's draft projection. In some cases, it gives scouts something else to consider in their evaluations. Oftentimes, teams will schedule private workouts as a follow-up. 

    On familiar grounds, the prospects have the edge. They're able to work with their teammates and coaches. As a result, talent evaluators expect to see high-end performances, though it doesn't always turn out that way. 

    Based on the buzz and testing numbers from pro days across the country, we'll go through the biggest winners and losers at this stage in the assessment process. Where are the draft risers? Who botched an opportunity?

         

Winner: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    It seems like a two-man race for the top spot at quarterback in this year's class: Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray. The former wowed spectators last Wednesday, including ESPN's Todd McShay.

    "The deep throws found the outside shoulder," he wrote. "The red-zone throws were kept high and away from hypothetical defenders. Haskins reads it, sees it and gets the ball out accurately. There's a tremendous combination of touch, timing and trajectory on his passes." 

    For a one-year starter at quarterback, it's important to put your best on display at every opportunity. Haskins had a decent showing at the combine, but he added another strong visual for scouts to evaluate before the draft. His last public impression could encourage teams to move up for him April 25. 

    According to the New York Post's Paul Schwartz, the New York Giants had dinner with Haskins before his pro day. After the signal-caller's impressive performance, general manager Dave Gettleman should at least consider him at No. 6 or think about a move up a few spots to ensure no other team jumps ahead of them for his services. 

    Haskins doesn't need to upstage Murray. Wherever he lands on draft day, the former Buckeye will have an early opportunity to start within his first two seasons.

Loser: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    Quarterback Drew Lock's pro day seems like a mixed bag, depending on expectations. He's a loser in the sense his performance won't force many scouts to re-evaluate what they saw on tape. At this point, your assessment on him may not change—good or bad.

    According to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, Lock flexed his big arm, which is also evident on his collegiate tape, but lacked accuracy and ball placement.

    "The biggest knock on Lock is his accuracy, and one scout at the workout texted that his ball placement was 'off, scattershot" and Lock 'didn't look comfortable,' Miller wrote. "That could be due to working out in an indoor facility as opposed to outside, but in the throwing session he wasn't able to impress scouts fully."

    Lock would've strongly benefited from a session in which he showed pinpoint accuracy, but the Missouri signal-caller likely confirmed initial thoughts on his flaws. The 6'4", 228-pound passer won't gain any ground on Haskins or Murray. He ranks behind them as the third-best prospect at the position.

Winner: Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Storylines involving Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray dominate this year's quarterback class, but Will Grier made a strong case to solidify a draft spot on Day 2 at West Virginia's pro day. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, a scout in attendance called the signal-caller "a riser" and said he "put on a show" during his performance. 

    Known for his short and intermediate accuracy, Grier's smooth delivery and decisiveness in the pocket will score points with team scouts. He can also evade pressure and complete off-balance throws, as shown against Texas last year. 

    Grier doesn't have the strongest arm, but NFL teams must decide whether he's able to push the ball downfield when necessary. Ball placement carries more weight than arm strength in the pros—throwing windows are air-tight in the league. The former Mountaineer's anticipation in the pocket should boost his stock on draft day. 

    Based on that area scout's assessment, Grier may have boosted his potential future earnings. Schefter reports no less than 10 teams will meet with the senior quarterback before the draft.

Loser: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

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    Devin White and Devin Bush garner most of the praise at their position. They're both "modern-day" linebackers who possess the speed and athleticism to stay on the field for all three downs. Does Mack Wilson belong in this group?

    Wilson only participated in the vertical (32") and broad jumps (9'9") at the combine because of a hamstring injury, which put a brighter spotlight on his pro day presentation. NFL.com's Gil Brandt graded his workouts "average."

    By his own admission, Wilson fell short of expectations, per AL.com's Michael Casagrande. "I didn't have a perfect pro day," he said. "I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to accomplish but like I told my parents and my trainers, as long as I'm happy, I want y'all to be happy."

    Based on film and production, Wilson shouldn't have an issue in coverage. He recorded six interceptions and seven pass breakups over the last two seasons at Alabama. On the other hand, scouts will continuously break down a prospect's negatives and positives until draft day. 

    Wilson's "average" pro day with self-admitted shortcomings gives scouts something to nitpick as teams reassess their draft boards. He's likely the third off-ball linebacker drafted, but the Alabama product may have missed an opportunity to cement a spot in the first round. 

Winner: Maxx Crosby, EDGE, Eastern Michigan

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Prospects with wide-ranging draft projections may want to double down on their combine results—every workout matters. Edge-rusher Maxx Crosby ran a solid 4.66 40-yard dash at the combine with a 122-inch broad jump. 

    At Eastern Michigan's pro day, he added 18 reps on the bench press, put forth a full effort during his position drills and flashed some versatility, per Draft Analyst writer Tony Pauline.

    "Crosby then looked terrific in defensive line and linebacker drills, translating his speed and athleticism onto the field. He even took part in a few defensive back drills upon request," Pauline wrote. 

    Heading into the predraft process, Crosby's name didn't come up in Day 2 discussions. Following his last set of workouts, Pauline suggested that projection changed a bit. "I stated during several podcasts that Crosby would move into the second day of the draft with a strong showing during predraft workouts," he wrote. "That was the narrative from teams at pro day, who believe Crosby won’t get out of the third round."

    NFL teams will find a way to use a talented edge-rusher, whether it's strictly on passing downs or in blitz packages. Crosby recorded 18.5 sacks over the last two terms at Eastern Michigan. He may enter the league as a top-100 pick.

Loser: Preston Williams, WR, Colorado State

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Wideout Preston Williams didn't receive an invite to the combine because of an arrest that stemmed from a physical altercation with a woman in 2017. Though he was available to meet with team officials, the Colorado State product couldn't participate in on-field drills. 

    Williams had an opportunity to showcase his skill set but underwhelmed with average-to-below-average testing numbers relative to his position, per The Draft Network's Kyle Crabbs. "A 4.55s 40-time is fine, but a 31.5" vert and a 9'08" broad are just woefully bad numbers," he wrote. "The average vertical for a defensive lineman is a quarter inch shorter than what Williams logged at his Pro Day."

    Despite Williams' 1,345 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns last year, The Athletic's Dane Brugler thinks the wideout goes undrafted. "Based on the feedback from scouts who were at the #ColoradoState pro day, it sounds like a long shot that WR Preston Williams gets drafted. Bad off-field and poor workouts are tough to overcome." 

    In Brugler's tweet, he acknowledged the possibility that a team may take a chance on Williams, but his recent impression along with a red flag off the field may be enough to keep him off draft boards.

Winner: Foster Moreau, TE, LSU

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Tight ends may not showcase their full skill set on the collegiate level, and it's not their fault. Depending on the offensive design, a player at the position may have a role limited to inline blocking.

    According to Mike Gaither of WBRZ, Foster Moreau put his pass-catching skills on display, and he's set to see a stock boost leading up to the draft. The LSU tight end caught 52 passes for 629 yards and six touchdowns in the collegiate ranks. Frequently used to clear lanes for the ground attack, the senior prospect can also pose a threat in the passing game. 

    Moreau's willingness to engage in the nitty-gritty down in the trenches and challenge defenders as a pass-catcher should draw interest from play-callers who want to add versatility to their schemes.

    An NFL club that looks to establish the ground game would also have a solid blocker to seal the edge on outside runs. Nevertheless, Moreau's ability to catch would likely earn him more overall snaps and a full-time starting role.

Loser: Tre Lamar, LB, Clemson

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Over the years, spread offensive attacks have put linebackers on an island, which forces them to cover running backs out of the backfield and tight ends downfield. In response, defensive coordinators need agile, second-level defenders on the field. 

    To outsiders, a subpar 40-yard dash for a linebacker doesn't seem like a deal-breaker. Tre Lamar recorded 4.95- and 4.97-second times during Clemson's pro day. The former Tiger's foot speed comes off as a big warning sign at a position that's evolved in recent years and expected to follow the action sideline to sideline.

    Lamar suffered a shoulder injury during the combine, which made his pro day performance that much more important relative to his draft standing. He profiles as an early-down linebacker who provides solid run support, but teams may opt to take him off the field in obvious passing situations. 

    Based on film study, Miller expressed his concerns about Lamar's coverage ability: "He's a very good two-down linebacker patrolling between the tackles, but can he cover or take away the outside play? That was a weakness on film, and it's why he's moved down to the third round on my newest update." 

    Despite the scattered talent at linebacker, Lamar didn't improve his stock at Clemson's pro day and likely falls to Day 3 in the draft.

Winner: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

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    John Amis/Associated Press

    According to Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson, cornerback Deandre Baker's draft stock dipped after the combine because of his on-field performance.

    "Several went back to the tape on #Georgia CB Deandre Baker after the combine," Robinson tweeted. "Some concern about his speed and drill work. Once considered a potential high first round #NFL draft pick who seems to be slipping a bit in the process." 

    Baker's agility and athleticism came into question, but he bounced back with a strong pro day presentation to quiet his critics. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter, the Georgia product clocked an improved 40-yard-dash time and showed unwavering confidence. 

    "Baker shaved some time off the slow 40-yard dash time he ran at the combine and proclaimed himself to be the best cornerback in the draft," Ledbetter wrote. "He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds at the combine and improved to 4.46 seconds Wednesday." 

    We won't know how much the combine or pro day affected Baker's draft placement, but he needed a strong showing to offset the rumblings coming out of Indianapolis in early March. While he's likely behind Greedy Williams (LSU) and Byron Murphy (Washington), the former Bulldog could still land within the top 40 selections.

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