The NFL world is currently consumed by the “legal tampering period” and the impending opening of free agency proper and the new league year.
But while news is breaking left, right, and center over which teams have “significant interest” in what players, and who has agreed to terms with whom, the draft process is still chugging along as we inch closer to the 2019 NFL Draft at the end of April.
We are fully into the “Pro Day” part of the draft process, where scouts and position coaches — and occasionally coordinators, head coaches, and GMs — flock to campuses around the nation for a closer look at prospects of interest. And this week happens to feature several magnet prodays which will have teams’ brass out in force.
Wednesday, March 13th
Oklahoma (10 a.m) - We pretty much have to start at what might be the most important Pro Day on the calendar. Quarterback Kyler Murray launched himself up to the top of the draft when he measured in bigger and heavier than anyone expected at the Combine. Even the New York Giants seemed potentially open to the idea of drafting Murray after he weighed in at roughly the same size as Russell Wilson. However, he didn’t work out, leaving questions about whether or not he still has his electric athleticism at roughly 205 pounds. He will look to put those questions to bed, as well as show off his skills as a passer.
Teams will also be keen to see Oklahoma’s offensive linemen — Cody Ford, Ben Powers, Dru Samia, and Bobby Evans — on display. They are experienced linemen and comprised one of the best offensive lines in college football. Finally, look for teams to be interested in running back Rodney Anderson and wide receiver Marquise Brown, the latter of whom is recovering from surgery for a lisfranc injury.
Wisconsin (11 a.m.) - Hot on the heels of Oklahoma’s pro day is Wisconsin’s. And as we have come to expect from the Badgers, they are bringing quality offensive linemen to the party. Quarterback turned tight end turned right tackle David Edwards is the top prospect on the property but teams could also be intrigued by guard/tackle prospect Michael Deiter and guard Beau Benzschawel.
Clemson (8 a.m.) - Clemson’s defense championship defense was absolutely stacked in 2018, and many of those prospects will be drafted this year. Their defensive line, in particular, is one of the very best in the entire country after making the group decision to stay together for the 2018 season when some could have declared early for the draft after 2017. Defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence present a classic pairing of a 3-technique and nose tackle, and each is an impact player at the position. Meanwhile defensive end Clelin Farrell is among the top EDGE rushers in a deep class, but might be limited to being a defensive end in a four-man front.
The Clemson defense has talented players throughout. Linebacker Tre Lamar is an athletic player who can help teams deal with the influx of spread concepts into NFL offenses. Cornerback Trayvon Mullen has promising tools and could be a find for a team with a bit of polish.
On the offensive side of the ball, teams will be interested in slot receiver Hunter Renfrow who has been a key piece of the Clemson offense since his freshman year — despite never being a featured piece. They could also want to take a closer look at offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt as well.
Michigan (8 a.m.) - Michigan has a quartet of defensive players on display who will intrigue NFL talent evaluators. The biggest name is defensive lineman Rashan Gary, who has elite athleticism but will need to answer questions about pedestrian production. Teams will also be interested in whether Gary has the ability to play standing up or if he will be locked into a defensive line role at the next level.
Behind Gary is linebacker Devin Bush and EDGE Chase Winovich. Bush tested out as the most athletic linebacker in a surprisingly athletic off-ball linebacker class. For him, it is now a matter of how highly he will be drafted. Winovich is a high-motor edge rusher with a knack for timing and executing his rushes. His athelticism wasn’t highly thought of before the Combine, but he had a solid workout. Teams that run 3-4 defenses might want to take a closer look at Winovich after his showing in Indy.
Finally we come to cornerback David Long, a physical and surprisingly athletic press corner. The cornerback class as a whole and several of the top prospects in particular, disappointed at the Combine. Long, however, had one of the better workouts and should be taking his opportunity to impress teams looking for cover corners.