We are less than three weeks away from the NFL Draft, and the 2021 pro days are now in the books. Even though NFL personnel have been on hand to get official times at each pro day this year, it will be interesting to see how much weight each team puts on these numbers.
Before we get into the headlines, I want to emphasize one thing about these times. It seems as if the different fields are having a major impact on the times. For instance, we expected Ja’Marr Chase to run well, but I am not sure that we were expecting a 4.38. We definitely did not expect to see Terrace Marshall run a 4.41, as many thought that he would run in the mid 4.5s. Almost everyone ran better than expected at LSU’s pro day, but it was the exact opposite at North Carolina’s pro day. Michael Carter and Dyami Brown were expected to run in the 4.3s, but they both winded up with times in the 4.4s. Chazz Surratt was expected to run around 4.5, and he nearly ran a 4.6. Javonte Williams’ game speed made many think that he would run in the low 4.4s, but he ran a 4.55. Those times are not terrible, but they were not as good as expected.
All of that to say, let’s keep the different fields in mind when we see everyone at a certain pro day running either faster or slower than expected.
Today, we will not only take a look at the noteworthy results from the pro days, but we will also dive into draft rumors, some of which have major implications on the Steelers.
There are too many prospects to cover all at once, but if there is a player not mentioned in the article that you would like to get the pro day results for, mention their name in the comment section, and I will see if I can dig it up.
Zaven Collins Maintains 1st Round Status
Collins was expected to put on a show at his pro day, and he did not disappoint. Nobody expected him to run a blazing 40 time. He was expected to run in the high 4.5s or low 4.6s, and he ran an official 4.67. The time was slightly slower than expected, but he made up for it with his excellent fluidity in the on-field drills. He leaped 35 inches in the vertical and recorded a 122 inch broad jump as well, which are both solid for a man his size. Is he going to run down receivers and running backs 30 yards down the field? No, but he is not that type of player. If he can sure up his tackling, he will be a very solid linebacker for years to come. I would be very surprised if he fell out of round one.
Steelers Reportedly High on Spencer Brown
We know how the Steelers love guys with excellent physical traits in the early rounds, and Spencer Brown certainly fits that category, running a 4.94 in the 40, jumping 31.5 inches in the vertical and 117 inches in the broad jump, and recording a 6.99 in the 3-cone drill. On the “Draft Insiders” with Trey Wingo (I will miss his expertise on draft coverage at ESPN) and Tony Pauline, Pauline reported that the Steelers really like Brown and that he could be a target for the Steelers in round two. The only problem with Brown is that he does not use his length well. It is definitely a fixable issue, but he did not play at all in 2020. The only thing we have seen from him since 2019 was his lackluster Senior Bowl performance this past January. The traits are there, but he is not a polished product and will require a year or two of sitting on the bench and developing before he can be looked at as a viable starting option.
Mac Jones the Favorite at No. 3
When San Francisco made the move up to the third pick in the draft, I thought that Trey Lance made the most sense. However, Adam Schefter has said that he would be surprised if the pick was anyone other than Mac Jones. Tony Pauline said that it is not a foregone conclusion that Jones is the pick, but most insiders seem to think that he will be the pick. While some may not see why the 49ers would trade up all the way to three to select a guy that many thought could still be available in that 10-12 range, it seems as if the league is higher on Jones than the media is. Jones is an elite processor, which is something that Kyle Shanahan values in his quarterback. I would not rule out Lance or even Fields, but it seems as if Jones is the favorite.
Nico Collins and Jacob Harris Shine at their Pro Days
The wide receiver position is incredibly deep, and the pro day results across the board only confirmed that. Two of the receivers with the best workouts, however, were Nico Collins of Michigan and Jacob Harris of UCF. Collins opted out of the season, but he was an excellent deep threat and a contested catch monster for the Wolverines in 2019. Despite lackluster quarterback play, he was the best and most reliable pass catcher that Michigan had. At Michigan’s pro day, the 6’4”, 215 pound Collins recorded a 4.42 in the 40, a 37.5 inch vertical, a 125 inch broad jump, and an 6.71 in the 3-cone drill. Because of opting out, Collins will probably not be taken day one, but he could be the steal of the draft if he falls outside the top 50 picks.
Harris, on the other hand, is not considered to be a prospect that will be taken early in the draft. However, he has scouts going back to the tape after his incredible workout. At 6’5”, 219 pounds, Harris recorded a 4.39 in the 40, a 40.5 inch vertical, 133 inch broad jump, a 4.31 in the 20 yard shuttle, and an insane 6.54 in the 3-cone drill. Based on traits alone, he is worth a flier in round six or seven, and it would not surprise me at all if he went even higher.
Kentucky’s Defensive Studs Rise to the Occasion
Jamin Davis and Kelvin Joseph were not on the radar of the casual fans two months ago, but people are definitely intrigued after their impressive pro days. Davis is a slow processor, but he is only a one-year starter. That will hopefully get better as he gains experience. He was expected to test well, and he did not disappoint. Davis ran an impressive 4.47 in the 40 while also recording impressive vertical and broad jumps at 42 inches and 132 inches, respectively. He has moved into the late first round discussion and could potentially be taken ahead of Zaven Collins.
As for Kelvin Joseph, he held up very well against some of the best receivers in the SEC last season but was still flying under the radar until a couple months ago. Because of Kentucky’s defensive schemes, Joseph is more experienced in zone coverage, but he has proven that he can hold his own in man coverage as well. He was expected to run well, and he did exactly that when he ran a 4.34 in the 40. His 35 inch vertical, 128 inch broad jump, and 4.22 20 yard shuttle are not too shabby either. I realize that the Steelers are not great at drafting corners, but if Joseph is available at 55, he may be difficult to pass on.
Smaller School Prospects Make Their Mark
Mac McCain III and Patrick Johnson are two of my favorite sleepers headed into the draft, and they raised some eyebrows after their pro day performances. Let’s begin with McCain. I loved his aggressiveness and physicality in coverage when I watched him, but I was not sure how well he would test at his pro day. Come to find out, he did quite well, running a 4.45 40, recording a 35.5 inch vertical, 123 inch broad jump, 4.12 in the shuttle and 6.94 in the 3-cone drill. He may not even get drafted, but if he is available in round seven or in undrafted free agency, he would be an excellent addition to the Steelers secondary.
Johnson was a reliable pass rusher and excellent run defender for Tulsa, and the more I watch of him, the more I like his game. Although he has great length and decent bend around the edge, his most underrated quality is power. He plays bigger and stronger than what his 240 pound frame would indicate. He will still likely be a day three pick, but it should definitely be early day three after his pro day performance. Johnson recorded a 4.59 in the 40, a 35 inch vertical, and a 6.97 3-cone drill. If he falls to day three as expected, the team that drafts him is getting a steal.
Other Pro Day Numbers
Pete Werner (Keep an eye on him in round 3) | ILB | Ohio State | 6’3” | 238 lbs | 40: 4.58 | Vertical: 39.5 | Bench: 20 reps| 3-cone: 6.95
Trey Sermon | RB | Ohio State | 6’0” | 215 lbs | 40: 4.57 | Vertical: 37 |3-cone: 6.83
Deon Jackson | RB | Duke | 5’11” | 218 lbs | 40: 4.41 | Vertical: 36 | Broad:122
Elijah Mitchell | RB | Louisiana | 5’10” | 201 lbs | 40: 4.38 | Vertical: 38 | 20 yard Shuttle: 4.19 | 3-cone: 6.94
Nick Bolton | ILB | Missouri | 5’11” | 237 lbs | 40: 4.59 | Vertical: 32 | 3-cone: 7.40
Dicaprio Bootle | CB | Nebraska | 5’10” | 180 lbs | 40: 4.38 | Vertical: 36.5 | 20 yard shuttle: 4.03 | 3-cone: 6.77
Derrick Barnes | ILB | Purdue | 6’0” | 238 | 40: 4.57 | Bench: 29 reps | Vertical: 37
Rondale Moore | WR | Purdue | 5’7” | 180 | 40: 4.29 | Bench: 24 reps | Vertical: 42.5
Kene Nwangwu | RB | Iowa State | 6’0” | 212 | 40: 4.29 | Bench : 22 reps | Vertical: 37 | Broad: 125 | 20 yard shuttle: 4.13 | 3-cone: 6.75
James Wiggins | S | Cincinnati | 5’11” | 209 lbs | 40: 4.40 | Vertical: 38 reps | Broad: 127
Gerrid Doaks | RB | Cincinnati | 5’11” | 228 lbs | 40: 4.58 | Vertical: 39.5 | Broad: 120 | 20 yard Shuttle: 4.27
Kary Vincent, Jr. | CB | LSU | 5’10” | 185 lbs | 40: 4.36 | Bench: 8 reps | Vertical: 35.5
Brandin Echols | CB | Kentucky | 5’10” | 179 lbs | 40: 4.34 | Vertical: 42.5 | Broad: 136 | 20 yard shuttle: 4.12 | 3-cone: 6.84
Racey McMath | WR | LSU | 6’3” | 217 | 40: 4.34 | Vertical: 35.5
Brock Wright | TE | Notre Dame | 6’5” | 257 lbs | 40: 4.62 | Bench: 26 reps | Vertical: 31.5 | Broad: 122
Aaron Robinson (Keep an eye on him if he falls to pick 55) | CB | UCF | 5’11” | 186 lbs | 40: 4.39 | Vertical: 37 | 3-cone: 6.89
Jalen Mayfield | OT | Michigan | 6’5” | 326 lbs | 40: 5.31 | Vertical: 28.5 | Broad: 96 | 20 yard shuttle: 4.91
Camaron Cheeseman | LS | Michigan | 6’4” | 239 lbs | 40: 5.03 | Bench: 17 reps | Vertical: 33
Ambry Thomas (Keep an eye on him in round four) | CB | Michigan | 5’11” | 191 | 40: 4.37 | Vertical: 38 | Broad: 122
Chris Evans | RB | Michigan | 5’11” | 211 lbs | 40: 4.44 | Bench: 20 reps | Vertical: 40.5 | 20 yard shuttle: 4.14 | 3-cone: 6.56
Nick Niemann | ILB | Iowa | 6’3” | 234 lbs | 40: 4.45 | 20 yard shuttle: 4.14 | 3-cone: 6.67
Ellerson Smith | EDGE | Northern Iowa | 6’7” | 252 | 40: 4.74 | Vertical: 41.5 | Broad: 127