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2021 NFL Draft: Previewing this week’s monster Pro Days

Many of the draft’s top prospects will have their pro days this week.

NCAA Football: Miami at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

The week of March 29th is set to be the biggest week in the 2021 NFL Draft process since the week of practice leading up to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl.

This week will see some of the biggest and most intriguing pro days of the season, with Miami, Alabama, Ohio State, LSU, Florida, and Notre Dame all taking the field for NFL scouts, coaches, and GMs. Each of these schools has a good reputation for putting players into the NFL, but this year each one boasts some of the top players at just about every position group.

While the New York Giants were very active in free agency, they still have holes on their roster, holes that could be filled by some of the top prospects working out this week. Likewise, if they choose to adopt a true “best player available” philosophy, this week will also feature some players who could well be steals at 11th overall, at least assuming the top 10 picks work out in the Giants’ favor.

Miami - March 29th

The U might not have the greatest number of NFL prospects, but this pro day might be the most important for the New York Giants, at least that’s assuming they have any intention of adding an edge rusher. Miami will have a trio of high-profile EDGE players, two of whom — Jaelen Phillips [Prospect Profile] and Gregory Rousseau — are in contention to be the top EDGE in the draft. A strong performance by Phillips could counterbalance concerns regarding his concussion history and put evaluators in mind of a player like Von Miller. Rousseau will be looking to show scouts that he has stayed in shape after opting out of the 2020 season, has explosiveness and agility to pair with his length play strength — and that he has an idea of what to do with all his tools.

Meanwhile Quincy Roche [Prospect Profile] is vying to be at the top of the second tier of pass rushers and could cement himself as a Day 2 steal.

TE/H-Back Brevin Jordan [Prospect Profile] will be looking to show the NFL that he can be a weapon from the Y tight end spot, slot, or H-back position. That part should be easy, as he looks to be one of the most athletic and dangerous offensive weapons in the tight end class. He is a competitive blocking tight end, but teams will be interested to see if he can show improvement in his technique.

Tuesday, March 30th

Ohio State

Ohio State’s pro day is one that teams flock to every year, and this year will be no different. This year, teams at the top of the draft will be focused on quarterback Justin Fields, who has been remarkably efficient over the last two years and reportedly turned a 4.41 second 40-yard dash in training for the draft. Guard Wyatt Davis (prospect profile) will be looking to cement his status as one of the, if not the, top guards in the draft. Likewise, center Josh Meyers (prospect profile) will want to prove that he is worthy of a round 2 selection.

OSU’s pro day will be crowded, and players like Jonathan Cooper (EDGE - Prospect Profile), Baron Browning (LB - Prospect Profile), Tommy Togiai (iDL), and CB Shaun Wade (CB - Prospect Profile) will all be looking to catch scouts’ eyes on the defensive side of the ball.

Alabama

The other massive pro day on the docket for Tuesday, Alabama is once again loaded with NFL caliber talent. This is actually Alabama’s second Pro Day, having already held one on March 23rd. This time around teams will be most interested in wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and running back Najhee Harris. Both players are expected to participate in this week’s pro day after spending much of the last few months returning from injury. Harris is in contention with Clemson’s Travie Etienne for the title of top runner in the draft, while Waddle will want to show scouts his athletic explosiveness in person following the ankle injury which derailed his 2020 season.

Wednesday, March 31st

LSU

The NFL will be paying close attention to a pair of receivers at LSU’s pro day. The first will, obviously, be Ja’Marr Chase who opted out of the 2020 season following a massive 1,780-yard, 20-touchdown sophomore campaign. A strong day for Chase could confirm him as the top receiver in the draft. Terrace Marshall Jr. (Prospect Profile), meanwhile will be looking to continue to build upon the the momentum he established in Chase’s absence. Marshall Jr. had a strong 2020 season, but teams will likely want to know if he is just a big slot receiver or if he can play outside as well.

On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Jabrill Cox quietly had a strong season after transferring from North Dakota State, but a good showing will be important in a deep and talented linebacker class. Cox was quietly one of the top off-ball linebackers in the country last year, and teams will want to see if he can back that up with a strong pro day. Finally, we have massive nose tackle Tyler Shelvin (Prospect Profile), who opted out of the 2020 season. Shelvin is listed at 6-foot-3, 346 pounds, and his official measurements will certainly be eye-catching. Teams will want to see just how well he can move at his size, and whether or not he is going to simply be a block-eating run stuffer at the NFL level.

Florida

This pro day will be all about three players: WR/TE Kyle Pitts, WR Kadarius Toney (Prospect Profile), and QB Kyle Trask.

Trask gained buzz over the last season, but there is also the feeling that his play was a byproduct of the emergence of Pitts and Toney as receiving weapons. Trask is a big, strong, and smart passer, but he could well be viewed as a developmental option at the NFL level. Showing improved mechanics could go a long way toward helping his draft stock.

Really, this pro day is about Pitts and Toney, who emerged two of the most explosive offensive weapons in the country in 2020. Pitts will, obviously be the big draw, as scouts will want to view the 6-foot-5, 245 pound athletic freak in person — and make up their minds as to what position he will play in the NFL. Pitts reportedly ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash in training, and a confirmation of that time could well solidify his status as a Top-5 player in the draft. Toney is still developing as a receiver after being used as a “gadget” player for much of his college career, but his explosive athleticism has never been in doubt. Improved route running and simply confirming what scouts saw on tape should be enough to confirm him as a first round pick.

This could also be an opportunity for unheralded wide receiver Trevon Grimes to make a bit of a mark for himself. Grimes has great size, but wasn’t well thought of as an athlete. If he can show that his long strides disguised NFL caliber speed, he could see his draft stock rise.

Notre Dame

The Notre Dame pro day is going to be a massive one as well.

The most impressive player will almost certainly be LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (commonly referred to as “JOK”). Teams will likely be concerned about JOK’s size, but if he shows up at anything over 6-foot-2, 220 (or 225) pounds, while maintaining the rare athleticism he showed on the field, that will go a long way towards assuaging fears. JOK is an exceptionally athletic and versatile WILL linebacker, and could be a rare weapon against the growing popularity of the spread offense.

Teams will also want to get a look at the EDGE duo of Adetokunbo Ogundeji and Daelin Hayes. This year’s EDGE class lacks a clear depth chart, and that could create an environment in which unheralded players could rise later in the process.

Notre Dame featured one of the top offensive lines in the country last year, with offensive tackles Liam Eichenberg and Robert Hainsey, as well as interior linemen Aaron Banks (prospect profile) and Tommy Kraemer all draft eligible. Finally TE Tommy Tremble will be looking to show that he belongs in the conversation with Brevin Jordan and Pat Freiermuth at the top of the TE draft board.

This will also be one last chance for quarterback Ian Book to raise his draft stock before the 2021 NFL Draft.