2021 NFL Draft: Ten prospects who could use a pro day boost
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In a typical pre-draft process, prospects face a critical decision:

Do I work out at the combine or just wait for my pro day?

Some prospects will give evaluators of taste of what they can do in both settings, but many pick and choose.

This year, though, with the COVID-19 pandemic eliminating workouts from the NFL Scouting Combine, pro days are the only game in town. Thus, these college-by-college showcases provide the last remaining opportunity for aspiring draftees to show their athletic wares. Some high-profile prospects will look to check the boxes, while others aim to apprise teams of their rare physical talents. And of course, the players who opted out of the 2020 season will look to remind everyone what they bring to the table.

With all that in mind, I’m spotlighting 10 players whose draft stock could use a pro day boost.

Williams is an undersized 3-technique with unusual strength at the point of attack for his size. While teams are usually leery of smaller interior defenders, Williams posted eye-popping numbers at his EXOS (training facility) pro day, including a 4.63 40-yard dash, 32 bench reps and a 35-inch vertical leap. If he can replicate these numbers and his speedy change-of-direction testing at his college pro day, it will skyrocket him up draft boards.

The speedy slot burst onto the scene with a huge true freshman season for the Boilermakers, but suffered a season-ending injury four games into his sophomore year. His decision to opt back into the Big Ten season was exciting news for draft evaluators, but he averaged just 7.7 yards per catch in the three games he played. Moore’s draft stock has fallen off, but he can regain the buzz if he crushes his quickness testing and runs a fast 40.

The pre-draft process is made for players like Oweh to turn heads and create buzz. He’s long-limbed with a well-defined athletic frame that draws the oohs and ahhs in movement drills. After a season in which he failed to register a single sack over seven games, Oweh could use a pro day where he shows off his physical gifts and brings himself back into the forefront for teams that covet explosive traits.

Collins was a 2020 opt-out, and while his 2019 tape was solid, he failed to consistently impress at the Senior Bowl week of practices. The Michigan product’s big, but he’s not a player who will shake and uncover on short-area routes. He wins with his size and his ability to get over the top on deep throws. He has good build-up speed and could use a relatively fast 40-yard dash to pair with his plus size to brand himself as a second- and third-level field stretcher.

It’s not a great feeling when the most recent memory of your play involves a 15-yard penalty for throwing a shoe in a critical moment of an upset loss. The fact is that Wilson had a strong true freshman season, suffered a season-ending injury early in his sophomore campaign and was somewhat underwhelming over the past two years. He’s big, fluid, strong and fast. Reminding teams of these traits at his pro day could help to rehabilitate his draft stock.

There was a lot of initial buzz among draft media pundits when it came to Jones’ potential draft-day stock, but the tape simply didn’t match that hype in my eyes. The Senior Bowl was a tough week for Jones, too, as he failed to dominate in one-on-ones as some expected. He has an explosive get-off, so the vertical leap and 40-yard dash should work in his favor. A big day of testing and fluid field movements would help.

Here is another athlete who would have turned heads at the combine and may not have even worked out at his pro day. Instead, Stevenson will get the chance to show teams just how explosive he really is on his home turf. There are some fast receivers in this draft, but Stevenson might be in the top two or three — and if he runs as fast as expected at his pro day, it could push him up a full round or maybe two.

It just looks strange to see a 2,000-yard rushing season sandwiched between 740 yards as a redshirt freshman and 625 yards in this past (abbreviated) campaign. You forgot that Hubbard was a 2,000-yard rusher in 2019? Yeah, you’re not alone — and that’s the problem. Hubbard simply didn’t have the same season in 2020, as his offensive line was very hit or miss. However, he’s a track sprinter who will run fast, and a smooth field workout could help him out.

Many draft analysts hung onto their initial grades and first-round projections for as long as they could, but Wade’s play simply didn’t hold up in 2020. In fact, I would argue that the tape has been spotty from the slot and on the outside. However, he clearly looks the part, which is what helped create excitement in the first place. That said, Wade appeared slow in the College Football Playoffs, so he needs to run well and test great to help re-focus the attention on his traits.

Vincent Jr. is a 2020 opt-out who finished 2019 with four interceptions and a national title with the Tigers. From a coverage standpoint, there were still things scouts wanted to see him improve upon, and they didn’t get to see that with no 2020 campaign against quality SEC receivers. Those areas of concern will remain, but his 100-meter track speed and outstanding athleticism should cause his draft stock to move up the boards if he crushes his pro day.

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