NFL Draft: 10 To Watch
The Pro Day schedule is wrapping up with this past week being the final "meaningful" set of Pro Days on tap for NFL teams. While Alabama was the most notable coming in, it was two intriguing quarterback prospects throwing, two Top 40 receivers, a host of small school prospects, and a few scattered mid rounders that turned in draft status-impacting workouts.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
While Andrew Luck's and Robert Griffin's Pro Days got all the attention of the national media, Ryan Tannehill's workout was much more beneficial for scouts. Tannehill is coming off a foot injury and teams needed to see if it had any lasting impact. From all I've heard from evaluators there, Tannehill's foot looked fine, he showed off his athleticism with 4.61 seconds in the 40, and his throws showcased high velocity, completing NFL throws that now further increase his chances of being a Top 10 pick come late April.
Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State
I've heard from NFL sources that Osweiler has been in the second round mix since he declared for the draft, and the scout wouldn't rule out the first round. Now that Seattle, the team by far most interested, has signed Matt Flynn, the first round seems unlikely for the developmental, 2+ year project. But after a solid workout (went 66-75), the 6-foot-7 quarterback showed athleticism(in the low 4.9s in the 40), and some solid NFL throws despite his awkward, coaching-needed mechanics. He's a project and will need two years at least, but don't be shocked if Buffalo, Denver, or especially Seattle strongly consider him come round two.
Michael Smith, RB, Utah State
Utah State's junior power running back Robert Turbin got most of the attention since he made his NFL announcement in January, but it's been Michael Smith, his fellow backfield runner, that has started to become a solid mid-to-late round prospect on team's boards, even ahead of Turbin. Smith ran a 4.36 in the 40 at his Pro Day, which was impressive for a 5-foot-9, explosive and low to the ground runner. Don't be surprised if two Utah State running backs get drafted, and Smith may be the first in the fourth or fifth round after his workout.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
One of the most polarizing prospects in this draft, Jeffery has been all over online evaluators' and NFL teams' boards all season. He was dominant as a sophomore, but his junior and final season was met with weight concerns, work ethic issues, and inconsistent separation. After not running at the Combine, Jeffery ran in the low 4.5-second range in the 40 -- solid for a 6-foot-3, 213-pound receiver. The weight issues still linger as he's HAD to drop almost 20 pounds to get to "NFL worthy" weight, and there's no guarantee he'll overcome those workout concerns. But with his size and ability, he could be intriguing enough for late first-round consideration.
Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
While Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, and Alshon Jeffery get most of the attention at the receiver position, I wouldn't be surprised if Brian Quick ended up being the best receiver from this draft class. Scouting small schools as much as Optimum Scouting does, we've had a good feel for Quick's outstanding athleticism, stride-through catch ability, ball-grabbing ability, and vision after the catch. But after flashing against some top cornerbacks in college and at the Senior Bowl, Quick once again added to his intrigue with a 4.53 time in the 40 and a 1.47 10-yard split, maybe the most important time for a receiver prospect.
Kyle Fiedorowicz, North Central College
Tagging along with Brian Quick as a solid small schooler, Kyle Fiedorowicz is a MUCH less known prospect with an outside shot at being a draft pick. Hailing from a Division III school, he's actually surprisingly been shown interest by NFL teams since his late junior year. The 6-foot-7, raw talent ran a 4.67 time on the 40, showing his fantastic talent to work with. He's been a top-20 tight end prospect all season, and while he's no lock to be drafted, the added value on tight ends in the NFL means teams need added depth, and he has the blocking and pass catching ability to work with.
DeMario Davis, OLB, Arkansas State
An underrated prospect for many, Demario Davis could take advantage of a fairly weak linebacker class this year. A well built, potential strong or weak side linebacker, Davis ran a 4.56 time in the 40, had a wowing 38.5-inch vertical leap, and according to NFL.com's Gil Brandt, he looked fluid in drills. Teams feel the value of linebackers is from late round two to early round four, and Davis could find himself in that range.
Ryan Davis, OLB, Bethune Cookman
Davis has been limited in the media thanks to a lack of exposure for Bethune Cookman, but he was voted the MEAC defensive player of the year despite having 4-5 other solid NFL prospects in the conference. The eventual 3-4 outside linebacker prospect (former college DE) really impressed in all his drills and now has significant interest from NFL teams. He'll get a lot of visits thanks to his lack of exposure plus not being an NFL Combine invite, but it'd be more of a surprise if he WASN'T drafted.
Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
Robinson went from lesser known, surprise early entree to the draft to a possible late first round prospect after wowing in most of the tests at the NFL Combine. While his film doesn't necessarily back that up, he has shown some solid ball skills and recovery speed on film, and his athleticism based off the workouts has been enough to push him up boards significantly. At his Pro Day, however, Gil Brandt of NFL.com said that Robinson "didn't seem to have as much quickness or explosiveness as he did in Indianapolis," wich is concerning for a prospect based mostly off of workouts.
Winston Guy, S, Kentucky
Playing on an unheralded Kentucky team that has struggled to be successful in the SEC yet has consistently added NFL talent, add safety Winston Guy to the group of Wildcats that are underrated. A well-built, fairly long safety, Guy is coming off a groin injury that still hasn't been fully healed, which didn't allow him to run at the Combine. He posted a 4.53 time in the 40 and a 4.25 short shuttle, solid for a safety prospect still only at around 80 percent from his injury. His length and fluidity as a strong safety make him a solid match-up for the athletic tight ends that have become so impactful in the NFL.
Eric Galko is a contributing NFL scout for Patriots Insider at Scout.com.
Eric Galko is the Owner, Director of Scouting of Optimum Scouting and lead editor for OptimumScouting.com. He has been scouting college football for eight years, and for pro teams and other sports professionals for the last four years. Eric is also a member of the FWAA.
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