We are back with our opinion and coverage of the Alabama and Ohio State Pro Days. Of course, this is Alabama’s second after we got a taste of Mac Jones and others last week. This is the day that these guys have been waiting for. The final chance to show prospective franchises what they are made of and what they have to offer. These Pro Days can mean higher (or lower) Draft stock and subsequently more money and opportunities.
Alex covered Alabama’s first Pro Day last week and you can read about it here
Early news on the second instalment was that Najee Harris would not be participating in the 40 as a result of a lingering ankle injury from the College Season. DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle were also not going to take part. Waddle I can understand if he is not fully recovered from his own ankle injury. Smith is a strange one, the Heisman winner this year, it could have been that he was happy to let his game tape do the talking. The other side of this is that he might be worried he would not measure well. He may want to protect what Draft Stock he already has accrued. It should also be noted that Smith broke his finger during the National Championship and that this has still not healed. Late news did however broke that he would run a few routes through Jones’ throwing session.
So, how did they all do…
Alabama Pro Day (2)
(Big) Mac is Back
Throwing for the second time in a week, Jones was there almost as much for his team-mates as for himself. Let’s be honest, at this point in their careers Jones provides the best opportunity to send catchable balls their way. There is also even more interest in Jones now that the 49ers are sat in 3rd spot in the Draft. If you believe some commentators, Jones could be this pick as the most ‘pro-ready’ Quarterback in the class.
Jones had some over-throws in this session. I feel this is probably as a response to his last where some of his passes were under thrown. Better you overthrow than under I suppose. There was more focus on the longer throws and play-action in this session. There were also a couple of off-balance across the body throws included. These were likely a response to Zach Wilson last week. Jones seemed happy with his session:
“I just wanted to show that I’m not a statue and I can make plays. I’ll be able to do that, hopefully, at the next level… Obviously, it’s not going to be a clean pocket with five perfect blockers. I’m going to have to move a little bit, but you also don’t want to ruin the structure of the play. I just wanted to show that on a few, even on my creative footwork and stuff, but at the end of the day, I’m a pocket passer. I’m just going to drop back and let it rip.”Mac Jones – Following Pro Day 2
There is a feeling amongst more experienced scouts than I that this was a better day than the first. Whilst I said above that Jones was helping his team mates out, the same can be said of Smith. He didn’t have to run today but that he did gave Jones his favourite receiver from the last year to show off with. I think that this showing is likely to see Jones gone inside the top 15 picks of the Draft, much higher than we anticipated even a month ago.
The last throw of the session was a fun one, Jones showing off his hands in the endzone as he caught a pass from Najee Harris. Offering Belichick something Tom Brady could not perhaps…
Harris is the RB1 on probably 90% of draft boards at the moment, Travis Etienne being some people’s particular poison. Although he did not take part in the 40 yard dash as he is still recovering from his ankle injury, he did complete the running back drills for those in attendance. At this stage I don’t think there is much to be gained from pushing himself any harder during these Pro Days, everything teams need to now is on game film from the last season. He also caught a few passes from Jones just to remind everyone of the hands which caught 43 balls through the season.
I expect to see Harris off the board no later than the 18th pick where Miami hope to be able to grab him. Teams such as the Steelers and the Cardinals will be keeping a close eye as well. For the Steelers this would require trading up to 15th if not higher, lets see just how badly they think they need a Running Back over other positions.
More realistically, this is a fight between the Cardinals and the Dolphins. Now that I have said that of course a third, as yet unknown, team will swoop in and grab him.
Pro Days offer the chance to make one last impression. Jaylen Waddle has spent the last few months recovering from an ankle injury that kept him out of much of the last college season. It was therefore no surprise he was no more than a spectator.
DeVonta Smith was also not supposed to be working out today but as we approached the start time news came out that he would actually run a few routes for his QB. Speaking about it afterwards Smith said:
“Mac was just on me like, ‘Bro, come catch, come catch, come catch….And then I just eventually gave in and was like, ‘Ok, I’m going to do it for you, bro.'”DeVonta Smith on Mac Jones getting him to run routes for him
This kind of loyalty runs through this team. From Harris driving 9 hours last week to support his team mates even though he wasn’t working out, to Jones throwing a second day for his guys. Smith didn’t have to do anything today, he is another with more than enough game film to make his case for him.
The routes themselves seemed as if things had never stopped after the National Championship game. There were a few long throws that Smith took in seamlessly at the top of smooth routes. What this did give Smith the chance to do was show there was no lingering issue from the broken finger that is healing.
There were many other Draft eligible guys in attendance, those who were there but did not take part in any on field work included: Christian Barmore, Deonte Brown, Landon Dickerson, Alex Leatherwood, Dylan Moses, Patrick Surtain II and Jaylen Waddle.
It was especially nice to see Dickerson at the Pro Day, even if he wasn’t participating. He had torn his ACL last year in the SEC Championship game. To see him cartwheeling about was a great sight, if not one that will make some scouts a little nervous!
Ohio State Pro Day
One absence from the session was Shaun Wade who intends to hold his own Pro Day at a later date. This is as a result of a lingering turf toe injury.
Without a doubt the Justin Fields was the main attraction of the two Pro Days focussed on today. Fields, who started the year as consensus QB2 may have felt he had a point to prove. Zach Wilson has come along and apparently unseated the former QB1 star as QB2 in the Draft.
He did all he could. Running a 4.43 unofficial timed 40 yard dash means he sits behind only Robert Griffin III in QB times at official Combine events since 2006. This speed is sure to excite those who watched Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray enter the league and succeed. Those who want a mobile QB. Regarding those two it is worth noting that neither ran the 40 at their respective combines. I expect had they done so Fields would now be number 4 on the list.
Fields moved into the throwing part of his session quickly. The throw of the day was surely a 65 yard throw, off his back foot, on a roll out to the left. It landed perfectly in the waiting receivers arm. The arm strength evidenced will have pleased those in attendance. At the time of release his feet were both off the floor and his hips square. A throw like that takes some doing!
All Fields can do now is to do his all in 1:1 meetings and to impress on prospective employers what he can bring to a team. Leadership and skill are not in doubt, it will all come down to how teams views of Wilson have changed over the last few weeks. It seems unfair to me that Fields has been demoted to QB3/4 for no good reason. I still have him at 2, someone is going to get a steal.
Pete Werner, Baron Browning and Justin Hilliard all expect to hear their names called over Days 2 and 3 of the Draft. They all had strong Pro Days. Of the three it was Baron Browning who was the fastest at their Pro Day, clocking 4.58 in the 40-yard dash. He did this whilst weighing in as the heaviest of the three, with the longest wingspan and largest hands. He was also the fastest of the three at the 3-cone drill and the short shuttle exercises. Off the back of this I would expect that Browning will be the first of the three taken. Depending on how the board falls he could sneak into the back of the 2nd. That said I would have more faith in him being a 3rd round pick for someone.
Other Notable Ohio State Pro Day Attendees
Trey Sermon ended the college season in scintillating style. He amassed 589 yards on 67 touches against Northwestern and Clemson before being injured at the start of the National Championship game. He posted some very solid numbers today: a 37-inch vertical jump, a broad jump of 10 feet, 5 inches, a short shuttle time of 4.38 and a three-cone drill clocking at 6.83. Sermon’s 40-yard dash times of 4.60 and 4.57, were nothing to write home about but they will go some way to quelling any concerns surrounding his speed.
Wyatt Davis, the Big Ten Lineman of the Year for 2020, only performed in positional drills and the bench press. He managed to put up 25 reps which is a solid effort. The important part of his day was showing that the knee injury he picked up last year has healed to an extent that teams do not need to worry about it. Mission accomplished, Davis has an outside shot at being a Day 1 selection but if not I would expect him to go early on Day 2.
Tommy Togiai made an impression on the bench press. He managed 40 reps, only 9 short of the record set in 2011 by Stephen Paea. I expect to see Togiai go on Day 3 and be good value for that pick.
With more Pro Days to come keep your eyes peeled for the updates and Undrafted Takeaways.
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