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With NCAA Pro Days over, here are prospects who elevated their 2021 NFL Draft stock

With the 2021 NFL Draft on the horizon, it is time to take a look at players who performed well at their Pro Days, and those who didn’t.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since the NFL decided to cancel the annual Scouting Combine, it became clear the emphasis would immediately fall on the individual school’s pro days. No longer did prospective players have two opportunities to impress coaches and scouts, they would have one shot at that in-person performance.

With NCAA Pro Days all but in the rear view mirror, it is time to look back at who wowed, and who disappointed. ESPN Senior Writer Jeff Legwold dove into the topic head first. See his lists below for players who helped their draft stock, and those who watched their stock plummet after a bad workout.

Prospects who wowed at pro days

Pro days are just one piece of the puzzle, and when scouts criticize the media for their evaluations of prospects, they will often say too much emphasis was placed on a pro day or combine workout and that one play made in a noncompetitive situation should not get as much love as it does.

Here are a few of the non-quarterbacks who made the most of the showcase in recent weeks:

  • Many people in the league came away from Northwestern’s pro day raving about how offensive tackle Rashawn Slater looked after missing a season. They got the confirmation they needed to make him a top-15 pick.
  • Wisconsin-Whitewater lineman Quinn Meinerz didn’t get to play a game in 2020 because his team’s season was canceled. But he made the most of his Senior Bowl week, especially in the one-on-ones, and he followed that up with a top-shelf pro day on March 9, including a reliably timed sub-4.9 40-yard dash at 320 pounds and top times in shuttle drills.
  • The game video showed Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey didn’t surrender a sack in 2020, and his pro day was stellar for his position, including shuttle drill times similar to those for a skill position player.
  • Penn State edge rusher Jayson Oweh had a pro day one scout called “high-end ridiculous’’ as the 6-foot-5, 257-pounder had double-take numbers such as a 39½-inch vertical and a 40 time in the 4.3s. He is one of the biggest pro day/game tape question marks of this class because he finished last season without a sack.
  • BYU wide receiver Micah Simon, a former prep quarterback, went undrafted in 2020 after COVID-19 forced his pro day to be canceled. He caught passes from Zach Wilson at BYU’s pro day this year and dropped a 4.3 40 on those in attendance. He was signed by the Panthers last week.

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Prospects who still have questions after pro days

  • Pitt safety Paris Ford was a productive player who consistently showed a good understanding of what offenses wanted to do, but his pro day 40s were in the 4.8s, and his times in the agility drills were not nearly what many scouts were hoping to see.
  • Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade has seen his stock fall in recent months — he was viewed as a potential first-round pick last summer — and he did not work out at the Buckeyes’ pro day because of a turf toe injury. He has told teams he will work out April 14, and he’ll need to provide something to counter his shaky play this past season.
  • Scouts had already said that Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson didn’t have the best week at the Senior Bowl and his pro day performance was just OK. Many came away hoping for more from the former five-star prospect.

What do you think of the above list? Would you have had any of these players on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ radar? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.