Pro Days are a big part of the overall NFL Draft evaluation process and continue to evolve as this particular piece of professional football becomes even more of a closely scrutinized “event”. Focus on the annual NFL Combine has been magnified as a result of NFL Network’s coverage, but a College Pro Day is just as important to a particular school’s overall ratings as is live coverage of wide receivers running their 40-yard dash.
College coaches knowingly leverage the NFL attention given to their programs on this single day to help lure recruits from across the country. At one point Pro Days were nothing more than a makeup or a mulligan in the eyes of NFL scouts. They were also an opportunity for second tier players and small school standouts to get a chance to put their own measurables down on paper next to the 350 or so Indy invitees. Not anymore.
But NFL scouts are wary of Pro Day numbers from the standpoint of conditions being setup for maximum performance. The great thing about the Combine is that everyone must perform under the same circumstances. Not so with the varied nuances of individual Pro Days. Rare do you see a player’s performance head south and don’t be surprised to see some substantial improvements by those that disappointed at Lucas Oil Field last week.
Here’s a look at some of the upcoming Pro Day’s and some likely NFL prospects you should keep an eye out for.
The Football Educator
NFL Prospects – College Pro Days Preview
By Taber Small
With the 2014 Combine now in the books, NFL scouting departments start hitting the road this week to attend college Pro Days. Every team had draft meetings a week before the NFL combine in to set schedules for selected coaches and scouting personnel to attend Pro Days. Most scouts try to attend college pro days in their area in order to evaluate prospects that were not invited to the NFL combine. The majority of prospects that are satisfied with their workout numbers at the combine will just participate in positional drills. On the flipside this gives a second chance for prospects that were not satisfied with their performance at the combine to improve their workout numbers.
College Pro Days are an important piece to the NFL draft process because it helps teams find hidden gems. These Pro days are really setup for underrated and unknown prospects to get on the radar of NFL teams. Each year there are about 25 to 30 prospects that were not invited to the NFL Combine that end up being drafted. Quarterback prospects such as Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel decided not to throw at the NFL combine. This will create excessive hype and anticipation from NFL personnel at their respective Pro Days.
Notable College Pro Days Week 3/3 -3/8
Alabama State (SWAC)
RB Isaiah Cromwell - Former SEC Freshman of the year and UGA transfer performed well at the Combine running in the low 4.5′s, 23 BP reps, and displayed a 38 inch vertical at 5-foot-11, 224-pounds. He will only be performing positional drills at pro day.
Alcorn State (SWAC)
RB Arnold Walker - 2013 SWAC Offensive Player of the year is an underrated back with NFL size at 5-foot-11, 227-pounds. He doesn’t get the publicity that Cromwell receives, but is similar in talent. Walker breaks tackles and runs with good vision, balance and quickness. He led the conference with 1,191 yards and 16 TD’s.
Arizona State (Pac-12)
LB Carl Bradford - He was a highly productive & explosive 3-4 OLB prospect. Bradford should be drafted higher than expected.
DT Will Sutton - Sutton is considered undersized yet an explosive 3-technique DT that fits best in 4-3 defense.
RB Marion Grice - He is a special back when healthy. Grice is still battling a leg injury that kept him out the combine.
FS Alden Darby - Darby is an aggressive safety that will need a good showing at his pro day.He was not invited to the combine but made plays for ASU. His small size scares some teams.
LB Chris Young - This short athletic inside backer is a sleeper prospect that should test well at his Pro Day. He can play middle or strong side backer.
Arkansas State (Sun Belt)
DT Ryan Carrethers - He is a big squatty nose tackle that is attracting strong interest from 3-4 teams.
QB Adam Kennedy - Kennedy offers great size and adequate tools but still looks like he hasn’t fully covered from torn ACL from previous season.
RB David Oku -The Tennessee transfer had a disappointing senior season after registering a 1,000-yard junior year. The one time four-star recruit is a versatile back with a good burst of speed and quickness. He could be a return specialist at the next level.
LT Greg Robinson - After a remarkable showing at the combine he definitely stated his claim as the top offensive line prospect in the draft. He blew everyone away with his size, strength and athleticism but still needs improvement as a pass protector.
RB Tre Mason - An instinctive back with great speed and agility. He should impress in positional drills at his pro day that could land him in the early second round.
DE Dee Ford - He was not cleared to workout at the combine. Scouts are really anticipating what he will do this week at his Pro Day. If his number matches the speed and explosiveness seen on film he is a lock top 25 pick.
CB Chris Davis - Davis is a short but aggressive and feisty corner who did not run at the combine. He will need a good 40-time and workout to keep his status as a mid-late round pick.
FB Jay Prosch - He was a surprise combine snub that is the#1 rated FB on my board. Prosch is a workout warrior that should impress at pro day.
DE Nosa Eguae* - Eguae is an inside college DT that will have to move to DE in the NFL. His Pro Day will confirm to scouts if he’s athletic enough to make the transition.
LB Jake Holland - He is an inside run stuffing two down linebacker who is a free agent prospect at best.
FS Ryan Smith - Smith has a decent size (6-1/195) at safety but doesn’t play consistent enough in the eyes of scouts.