NFL Draft Pro Day risers, fallers
Pro Days are just a small part of the NFL Draft process, about in line with combine drills — and below game tape and sit-down interviews — when it comes to how important they are in teams’ minds.
With that said, there always are a bevy of players that rise to the occasion on their Pro Days … and a few that disappoint. We take a look at just a small sampling of each:
• Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State: It seems that the more teams get to spend time with Watson, the more they covet his potential. ESPN’s Adam Schefter wrote that Watson “has gotten a ton of attention” since his Pro Day, and it’s no surprise given the hulking lineman’s physical gifts.
Watson remains a raw talent, though, and his inexperience will make him a gamble come the draft. The recent buzz surrounding him could further drive up the price of that wager.
• Miguel Maysonet, RB, Stony Brook: Could the unheralded Maysonet be the star of Day 3 at the draft? After sitting out combine drills with a hamstring injury, Maysonet ran a 4.45 40 and a 4.01 short shuttle at Stony Brook’s Pro Day (the latter would have been the best RB time at the combine). Get ready to hear plenty of speculation that Maysonet is this draft’s Alfred Morris.
Unless, that is, Louisiana Tech’s Ray Holley takes the crown. Holley ran a pair of 40s in the 4.5 range at the Bulldogs’ Pro Day, plus put up 27 bench press reps as a 5-foot-8, 194-pounder.
• Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Quarterbacks are expected to perform at their Pro Days as Smith did — he was pinpoint sharp on his passing patterns and reportedly displayed improved footwork. Following up a combine in which he was arguably the most impressive player at a thin position, Smith seems to have solidified himself as the No. 1 QB.
• Dennis Johnson, RB, Arkansas: Another under-the-radar running back, Johnson compiled nearly 1,000 total yards last season. He’s an explosive player, who could jump into the NFL mix right away as a kick returner or passing-down back. Case in point: Johnson posted multiple sub-4.5 40s at his Pro Day.
• Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: Simply working out without limitations was a positive step for Lotulelei, who sat out the combine after a medical exam turned up concerns about his heart. Teams still need to check out the Utah D-lineman on their own, but if he’s fully cleared, there is no reason to believe he will not be a top-15 pick.
• Vance McDonald, TE, Rice: A major sleeper at the tight end spot, McDonald put on “a good show” at his Pro Day, per NFL.com’s Gil Brandt. McDonald is capable of stretching the field from the TE position, and he did not disappoint in his post-combine showing.
• Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia: Jones was reduced to playing the “I’m a football player” card following a tough Pro Day in which he could not best a 4.92 40. Considering medical questions continue to dog Jones during the run-up to the draft, a shaky Pro Day was the last thing he needed.
• Matt Barkley, QB, USC: Barkley had an opportunity last week to deliver a jolt to his draft stock — an injury kept him out of the combine, opening the door for the rest of the QB class to close and/or leapfrog him.
He did not take advantage of that chance. SI’s Jim Trotter wrote afterward that Barkley “failed to prove to the roughly 50 coaches and scouts in attendance that he deserves to be a high first-round pick in next month’s draft.”
• Damontre Moore, OLB, Texas A&M: Kind of beating a dead horse at this point, but Moore’s upside may not be enough to assuage teams that his negatives should be overlooked. Moore passed on the 40 at his Pro Day after a poor showing in that drill during the combine. Then, he compared himself to a puppy, saying that he needs a coaching staff to help groom him.
Front offices have every right to be wary of Moore at this point.
• Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State: Rhodes still may be the second corner off the board later this month, behind Alabama’s Dee Milliner. If so, it will not be because of his Pro Day. Rhodes failed to impress, according to Phil Savage of the Senior Bowl. “Slipped a bunch and had trouble in short area COD (change of direction),” Savage tweeted. “Did not catch ball well.”
Several other cornerbacks have flashed the potential to be Round 1 picks — Desmond Trufant, Jordan Poyer, Johnthan Banks, Darius Slay and Jamar Taylor, to name a few. The presence of those prospects left little room for Rhodes to stumble.