Wednesday March, 29 will mark a last chance of sorts for a group of Hurricanes looking to graduate to the ProCane level. Earlier this month the NFL Scouting Combine served as the biggest and brightest stage, for those who were invited, to make a better impression on NFL clubs.
Even though a pro day is scaled down in comparison to the combine, what a pro day does represent is a familiar environment for NFL prospects to shine in front of a modest amount of NFL scouts, coaches, GMs, along with the odd owner or two. Working out in the gym and on a practice field that you've grown accustomed to over the course of a couple seasons brings a sense of comfort, it also brings higher scrutiny from talent evaluators. Most of the day's workouts are scripted, from the warm-up to breaking it down in the huddle, with the goal of little to zero miscues being tolerated on the day.
Essentially a pro day should be nothing more than a checkmark next to the name for pro personnel in attendance.
For the nine 'Canes that attended the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this month, Wednesday provides an opportunity to improve in areas that they, or others, felt they could improve upon from their workout at Lucas Oil Field .
Could David Njoku cut down his 40-yard dash time with a better start on Pro Day? Of course he could. Does he need to? Not really. Will quarterback Brad Kaaya take part in drills he passed on in Indianapolis ( 3-cone, 40-yard dash, shuttle). Kaaya threw well, or well enough in Indy with the only scepticism pointed to his intermediate to deep accuracy. The major criticism still falls back to him breaking down in the pocket with pressure, along with a knock of him being an un-athletic statue there as well.
Combine 'Canes looking to improve
- Corn Elder who only took part in the 40-yard dash will look to better his 4.55 mark from Indy, as well as participate in other drills he missed that day.
- Stacy Coley could stand by his numbers from the combine. Running faster than 4.45 in the 40 could help, but would not mean much to teams that already have him on their board at this point
- According to NFL.com, Al-Quadin Muhammad had the best performance in 60-yard shuttle and while a 4.88 time in the 40 is not bad for an edge-rusher, if he can post similar if not better numbers than what he did at the combine while looking more fluid than stiff during drills, it will be a good day for him
- Already the fastest (4.70 40-yard dash) and the highest leaper among his position (34.0 inches), Justin Vogel is out to show his level of compete to those on hand
- Unless there are some padded one-on-ones drills it will be difficult for Danny Isidora to answer concerns regarding his ability to hold his ground against big interior rushers or those who employ the bullrush
Most of the attention will be given to the 'Nine from the Combine', however pro day might as well be the combine for those who were not invited. RB Joseph Yearby, CB Adrian Colbert, WR Malcom Lewis, LB Jermaine Grace, FB Marquez Williams and DE Stan Dobard will look to garner interest of those teams in attendance. For these guys it may be their only chance at drawing up attention in front of multiple NFL clubs. Most of the regional combines (smaller combines that are hosted at an NFL team facility) are done at this point, with private workouts the lone opportunities left between now and the draft to make an impression.
There seems to be good vibes when Adrian Colbert’s draft stock is mentioned. If he’s not drafted he’s surely to be a priority free agent that should make a roster somewhere next season. Colbert took part in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl this past January as part of the college all-star game portion of draft season. If he's able to look like the natural that he was this past season at Miami doing drills at 6-feet and 213 pounds, it will go a decent way to illustrating why he's a gem that some teams are sleeping on. Hopefully a great workout will quiet concerns about Colbert’s injury history.
Wednesday will also mark the return to campus for both Jermaine Grace and AQM who were given the boot for their roles in a luxury rental car scandal that was an NCAA violation. Unable to work out with their former teammates (or anywhere on campus), it will mark the first time that either player has officially taken part in a University of Miami event since their unceremonious exit. With AQM given the opportunity to work out at the combine, pro day allows him to address the areas of weakness that he showed the first week of March. For Grace, the opportunities to impress are drying up, providing little room for error along with pressure to make the most of the workout.
It's still unclear what the market is for Yearby, but his sophomore season alone should be more than enough to earn free-agent deal or camp invite at the very least. A top-heavy draft at the running back position, there appears to be those who project Yearby as a productive back at the NFL level.
“I watched a guy named Joe Yearby from Miami,” he said. “I talked to a scout today who said, ‘That guy stinks,’ and thinks he can’t play. I think that scout is going to be wrong. [Yearby] didn’t go to the combine, but I’m telling you, when you watch him play, he never changes his speed. He can process quickly what he sees in the hole.
“The guys that see things quickly are able to play faster. And if you can play fast at running back, I think you have a chance to make it in the NFL, provided you have a certain level of quickness and a certain level of either strength or elusiveness.”
That was from NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein referenced from A Four-Step Guide to Watching Football like a Scout written by The Ringer staff writer Danny Kelly.
Pro day is a nice culmination for not only the players looking to get drafted, but what makes Miami so great is how alums show their support to the young guys who are busting their butts to follow those legendary steps. Stayed tuned to SOTU as we'll recap some of the appearences from UM greats and which NFL teams were represented on Wednesday.