A couple of first round picks solidified their draft spots, a top QB prospect broke from the scripted pass model to take requests from the crowd, and a few lesser known players made a push to hear their names called on day 3 of the draft. Scroll down for my recap of Tuesday’s pro days.
DE / OLB Dee Ford talked a big game at the combine, calling Clowney a “blind dog in a meat shop”. I still don’t know what that means, but it came off sort of weak since Ford wasn’t doing any of the drills at the combine due to an injured back. Ford backed it up at his pro day with a 4.54 in the 40 yard dash, 29 reps on the bench, a 124″ broad jump and a 35.5 inch vertical. Ford’s vertical was 2″ less than Clowney’s but he did 8 more reps of 225 pounds on the bench. Besides those two categories the workout numbers of the two best pass rushers in the draft were practically identical. Clowney is bigger by an inch and about 20 pounds but based on their workouts, Ford & Clowney are eerily similar athletically. With Clowney already a lock for a top 5 pick, Ford’s comparable workout numbers and better production on the field (10.5 sacks) should make him a lock for the 1st round. I have him going to Arizona with the 20th pick overall.
Things have quieted down for CB Chris Davis after a volatile season that saw him run back the longest missed field goal in CFB history to shock #1 Alabama and then give up the game winning touchdown catch in the national championship game. Davis only did the bench press at the combine, but was a full participant at the Auburn pro day. He ran a decent 4.51 but had an excellent 40.5 vertical leap that will ease some concern over his lack of height since it will allow him to play a little taller than the 5’10 he’s measured at. A 40.5″ vertical would have tied Davis for 2nd among defensive backs at the combine behind only Stanley Jean-Baptiste of Nebraska.
Top-10 lock T Greg Robinson didn’t participate in any of the workouts and didn’t need to after his jaw-dropping combine performance.
LB Khalil Mack threw his hat in the ring for the number 1 pick after his pro day. Mack ran a 4.53 in the 40, tying Jadeveon Clowney’s time. He tweaked his hamstring a bit and didn’t participate in any other measurable workouts. A few unofficial times had Mack clocked at 4.45 which is pretty ridiculous for a 251 pounder. Regardless of what his real time was, it’s Mack production in college (28.5 sacks, 74 TFLs, 16 FFs) that make him a lock for the top 10. The timed 40-speed just legitimizes the elite athletic ability that is obvious on his game tape.
Northwestern / Eastern Illinois
QB Jimmy Garoppolo worked out for head coaches Jim Harbaugh (49ers) and Bill O’Brien (Hou) before his pro day on Tuesday. Garoppolo isn’t going #1 overall, but he could be an option with the first pick of round 2 for the Texans if they trade the 1st overall pick or select a defensive player like Khalil Mack or Jadeveon Clowney. Reportedly there were reps from 31 NFL teams at Northwestern’s pro day, so there seems to be quite a bit of interest in Garoppolo since he was the only player there projected to be drafted. Unlike like most QB workouts, Garoppolo’s wasn’t completely scripted. Roughly the first half of his 32 throws were scripted and on target, but the second half he left open to scout requests and he missed on a couple of the longer routes. Not a great performance, but not a bad day either and I think Garoppolo kept his stock consistent at somewhere between end of the 1st and early 3rd round.
CB Walt Aikens, who was the most egregious combine snub (imo), had a stellar workout today. Aikens started his career at Illinois and earned a spot on the all Big 10 freshman team before off-field issues forced a transfer. Aikens is a big (6’1, 205), physical corner who didn’t look over-matched by the talent upgrade at the Senior Bowl. He continued to help his stock at his pro day with a 4.46 40-time and 35″ vertical. Aikens also performed well in the position drills despite inclement weather outdoors (40 was run inside). His ability to block out the weather conditions should bump his stock a little for cold weather teams (like the Bears). There were 14 NFL teams in attendance so Aikens is definitely on the radar. I haven’t been able to find out if anyone from the Bears organization was in attendance, but I hope they were because Aikens reminds me a bit of young Charles Tillman. I currently have Aikens going in the 5th round to the Seahawks.
CB Ricardo Allen is a feisty corner who unfortunately is 5’9, 187 pounds. Allen is one of those players who always jumps out at me when I’m watching film of someone else. He’s a ballhawk and is more aggressive against the run than you would expect for someone with his size. I had written Allen off as an undraftable prospect after his 4.61 40-time at the combine, but he’s back on the radar after posting a 4.46 40-time and a 37″ vertical leap at his pro day. Allen’s 40 time, vertical, and broad jump (120″) were all very similar to LaMarcus Joyner’s who is basically the same size (5’8, 184) but a projected 2nd-3rd round pick. Allen had considerably better times than Joyner in both the 3-cone (6.9 to 7.26) and 20-yard shuttle (4.1 to 4.4). Joyner’s instincts are elite and I’m not comparing Allen in that category, but the point I’m trying to make is that Allen’s diminutive size shouldn’t exclude him from being drafted. Allen could end up being a solid NFL slot corner as a day 3 pick or priority UFA.
DT Bruce Gaston caught my attention during the week of the East / West Shrine game and I was surprised that he didn’t receive a combine invite. He had a bit of a down year in 2013 after Purdue switched to a 3-4 defense. Gaston was more effective in 2012 as a 4-3 DT and has shown surprising lateral quickness for a 308 pounder and the ability to get off blocks. He had a solid pro day with a 4.95 40-time, 34 bench reps, and a 34″ vertical. His bench output would have been 3rd among D-lineman at the combine and his vertical 8th, which isn’t bad for a man weighing over 300 pounds. Gaston should get consideration late on day 3 of the draft or could be a steal as a priority UFA.
Pro Day schedule (rest of the week):
March 5: Arkansas, Central Michigan, Mississippi State, New Mexico State, Texas A&M, Wisconsin
March 6: Cincinnati, Clemson, Illinois, Nebraska
March 7: Arizona State, Arkansas State, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Southern Miss