Pro day recap from Thurs, March 6th:
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If there were any lingering doubts about WR Sammy Watkins being the #1 overall WR, he dispelled them at his pro day. There was no need for Watkins to run the 40 after his 4.43 at the combine. Watkins did participate in receiving drills and wowed the 31 teams in attendance. I wonder who the one team was that didn’t show up? ESPN streamed the event and Watkins didn’t disappoint showing great hands, crisp route-running skills, and elite explosion out of cuts. He’s gonna be a stud at the next level. Let’s hope the rumors about the Lions trading up to get him aren’t true.
When 6’4, 211 pound WR Martavus Bryant ran a 4.42 40 at the combine, his off-season was pretty much done. As expected Bryant stood on his combine time and just did position drills. He looked explosive for his size, but his routes were a little loose and he did have the only drop of the day. Regardless, Bryant’s draft stock is still ascending and he has a legit shot to be drafted in the mid-to-late 2nd round.
QB Tajh Boyd has had an extremely disappointing off-season and in my opinion was on the draft bubble, but the Tajh Boyd we’ve been watching on the field the last few seasons finally showed up at a workout. Boyd looked extremely sharp completing 63 of 64 passes with the 1 incompletion coming on a Bryant drop. That’s the Tajh Boyd that many predicted to be no later than a day 2 pick going into the 2013 season. Boyd’s career production in college (107 TDs, 37 INTs) and slight resemblance in skill-set to Russell Wilson should be enough to get him drafted on day 3.
I was disappointed with CB Bashaud Breeland’s 4.62 40 at the combine because I thought he looked like a 4.5 guy on tape. At his pro day Breeland ran a 4.55. That’s more like it. I feel better about having Breeland (6’0, 197) as an early 3rd round pick now.
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In true Illini fashion, LB Jonathon Brown was a big let-down at the combine. He was the slowest LB in 3 different speed drills and tied for the worst broad jump. It looked like Brown’s best chance of continuing his football career was in Canada. Brown had a pretty decent pro day though, keeping alive his NFL dreams if only by a thread. He knocked .18 seconds off his 40-time (4.85), improved his vertical by 3.5″ and added 2 bench reps to get to 18. Those numbers are still in the bottom half of his fellow LBs at the combine, but they aren’t the worst anymore at least. Brown was a very productive LB during his Illini career and had 119 tackles, 15 TFLs and 5 sacks as a senior, so there is a chance that a team who values production over measurables might take a chance on him late on day 3.
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CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste locked up at least a 3rd round grade during Senior Bowl week due to his surprisingly instinctive play and the fact that he measured just a hair under 6’3. His 40-time at the combine (4.61) was slower than expected and had a lot of teams thinking his NFL future was at safety. SJB might still have a shot at CB in the pros after his 4.46 pro day 40-time. At his size, that is ridiculous. I doubt SJB makes it out of the 2nd round now. 6’3 corners who run a 4.46 and have a 41.5″ vertical don’t come around often.
I almost didn’t include QB Taylor Martinez in this article because frankly he really annoys me. His on-field demeanor just rubs me the wrong way. There is no chance Martinez becomes a full-time QB in the NFL but his unofficial 4.41 40-time and 3.83 short shuttle times are way better than any QB at the combine put up. Martinez’s best shot at the next level is either at safety or wide receiver and he proved today that he has enough speed and athleticism to have a chance.
Pro Day schedule (rest of the week):
March 7: Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas State, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Southern Miss