Buying or Selling 2021 NFL Draft's Latest Pro-Day Buzz
The pro-day circuit on the way to the 2021 NFL draft is more interesting than ever.
During a normal year, pro days are a ho-hum backdrop where the testing numbers get a raise of the eyebrow as prospects work out in friendly surroundings. The numbers from the NFL combine mean more, and those school-specific events are usually just ways for teams to get closer one-on-ones with prospects.
But not this year. Without a combine, pro days have taken on more importance. Film still trumps all, but testing numbers give a good idea of how to sort big boards.
Still, the usual skepticism toward numbers and hype remains, especially with the league limiting the number of personnel in attendance for each team. Here's a look at some of the latest pro-day buzz and a verdict on whether it matches the film and warrants hype.
Tyree Gillespie, S, Missouri
Tyree Gillespie appeared to be shooting up draft boards after Missouri's pro day.
Following a 5'11", 207-pound measurement, he blazed a 4.38-second 40-yard dash and submitted a 35.5-inch vertical. A 4.39-second short shuttle also showed his burst.
But the numbers surely sent teams back to the film, and there just isn't a ton there. Gillespie made 100 solo tackles over four seasons (34 games) while recording just two sacks, zero interceptions and one forced fumble.
Gillespie still projects as an uber-athletic rotational safety who can fill in against the run, which is a role plenty of teams need, but his draft stock shouldn't rise as much as his pro-day numbers might indicate.
Joshua Kaindoh, Edge, Florida State
Joshua Kaindoh is the sort of middle-round prospect who could have bounced up boards with a strong pro day.
On paper, he had just that, measuring 6'5", 260 pounds with a 4.70-second 40-yard dash, a 4.38-second short shuttle and 21 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.
While the numbers do seem to mesh with what Kaindoh put on film, any hype must be counteracted by other issues. Injuries limited the Florida State star's production to just three games in 2019 (season-ending ankle injury) and seven in 2020 (another leg injury).
For now, we're hesitant to buy the hype, though if he stays healthy, that could make him a mid-draft steal.
Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
TCU safety Trevon Moehrig has been a steady riser since the collegiate season ended due to film in which he flashes the rangy coverage traits at a premium in today's NFL, and he backed it up with a solid pro day.
He was apparently dealing with a back issue but still put up a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and 33-inch vertical.
"I'm usually a little faster, but no excuses," he told NFL Network's Jane Slater. "It is what it is."
That athletic profile sure seems to fit what Moehrig put on film over three years with 124 total tackles, two forced fumbles, seven interceptions and 21 passes defensed. If nothing else, his pro day didn't hurt his already-booming stock.
Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Purdue wideout Rondale Moore might have more hype than any other prospect right now.
He checked in at 5'7", 180 pounds and then stunned onlookers with a 4.29-second 40-yard dash and a 42.5-inch vertical jump.
Those are amazing numbers, but it might be wise to pump the brakes. Moore's 5'7" frame is still a problem when projecting him to the NFL. He's always seemed like a gadget player who can line up in the backfield or slot, and amazing testing numbers shouldn't change that outlook.
There's also the matter of his resume. Moore had 1,258 receiving yards and 12 scores in 2018 but has since appeared in just seven total games over two seasons. He can be an effective pro in the right spot, but the fun numbers are just that: fun.
Asante Samuel Jr., DB, Florida State
Given his name and collegiate production, Asante Samuel Jr. didn't need much help in the hype department.
He boosted his stock at his pro day anyway.
Samuel checked all the boxes, measuring at 5'10", 180 pounds with a 4.45-second 40-yard dash. He also interviewed well.
"I've played outside all my life. I feel like I'm a dominant corner on the outside," he said when asked about where he should play in the NFL. "I'm the same size as Jaire Alexander. Size doesn't matter. It's about the heart and dog mentality on the field."
Size didn't matter in college, as Samuel posted 97 tackles, 29 passes defensed and four interceptions over 31 games. Following a similar trajectory to Antoine Winfield Jr. last year as far as name recognition goes, he figures to be a high pick.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa
Ihmir Smith-Marsette was one of the more interesting players to watch on the pro-day circuit after he posted 14 touchdowns and a 14.7 yards-per-catch average in a less-than-stellar Iowa passing attack that gave him just 110 receptions over four seasons.
He impressed at his pro day, measuring 6'0", 181 pounds and posting a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and a 37-inch vertical jump.
Given that Smith-Marsette consistently seemed to play bigger than he was at Iowa thanks to his reach and ability to go up and get passes, the numbers mesh with the tape. That's a good thing for his stock as the draft approaches.