On Monday morning, a healthy portion of the NFL world will descend upon the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus to evaluate the Canes’ 2019 Draft hopefuls. For some, Pro Day serves as the next step in the evaluation process. For a host of others, the day represents their best opportunity to make an impression on evaluators. For the school itself, it’ll be a grand opening designed to showcase the restructuring undergone on campus as well as within the program.
March 25th marks the first time that the Hurricanes will be able to show off the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility. It’s a remarkable turnaround for UM after the memories of 2016’s Pro Day. For those who forgot, it was the one where a torrential downpour nearly washed away CB Artie Burns, S Deon Bush and S Dallas Crawford as they worked out on the Greentree Practice Field. The concern over another patented South Florida shower have all but gone down the drain with the IPF open for business. A major sense of pride for Miami Football, the doors should be wide open to welcome the NFL elite to tour the brand new digs.
While NFL evaluators will surely get the grand tour of Miami’s shining new facilities, the reason for their trip is to find out if this 2019 class of Hurricanes can hack it for their team. NYCanesguy broke down how the Hurricanes’ six invitees fared at the NFL Scouting Combine. For some of those attendees, Pro Day serves as the makeup test to the combine. Pro Day should provide Miami’s prospects with favorable conditions to stand on or improve their testing numbers.
I’ll dive into who needs to nail this exam among that group in a few paragraphs, but let’s shine a light on the guys who have been cast into the dark.
For RB Trayone Gray, T Tyree St. Louis, DT Tito Odenigbo, C Tyler Gauthier, LB Mike Smith, CB Jhavonte Dean, and QB Malik Rosier, Pro Day represents the biggest stage to showcase their talent. Not all of the names listed garnered an invite to the combine, but the dream of making it to the NFL still burns bright. For most NFL teams, these players may not be the headliners, but they certainly have a stage to make a case for themselves on Monday. A strong Pro Day performance could be the ticket to becoming a priority free agent after the NFL Draft for some of these guys. While job security is hardly assured at the pro level, having the option of picking an ideal situation as a UDFA is a decent perk of going undrafted.
For the Canes who went to the combine, Pro Day serves as a checkup. RB Travis Homer, CB Michael Jackson and S Sheldrick Redwine all put together solid outings both on the field and in the interview rooms in Indianapolis at the beginning of the month. While standing on their numbers from the combine make sense, re-taking some of those tests shows the competitive fire that being a Hurricane is all about.
Monday serves as a makeup test for both S Jaquan Johnson and DE Joe Jackson. Miami fans have witnessed the brilliance of Johnson at safety for four years. His dependability at the safety position was a staple of a defense littered with talent. After posting 4.69 in the 40-yard dash, the priority on Monday will be for Johnson to trim down his time. Should Johnson be able to bring his time down to the 4.5 range, we certainly could see the Franchise elevate his draft stock a month out from the draft.
For Joe Jackson, running the 40-yard dash will be the highlight of his day. After bypassing all the running and agility drills in Indy, interested parties are surely curious as to what range the defensive end will post in. At this point, I think teams know that Joe Jackson will be at the next level, yet improving on his jumping numbers from the combine would surely go towards helping establish himself in this class.
Finally, we come to Gerald Willis. We’ve spoken ad nauseam about the stellar 2018 campaign for the team MVP that it doesn’t need repeating at this point. We’ve also discussed Willis’ extended absence since Miami’s game against Pitt, after suffering some injuries. That streak of misfortune continued at the combine, where Willis was unable to participate in any of the workouts due to a groin injury, as reported by NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones. Given the injury, it’s difficult to gauge if and how much Willis will participate on Miami’s Pro Day. Should G be able to make a go of it on the field, it would be a great reminder of the athleticism he possess as a 300+ pound defensive tackle.
The NFL will descend upon Coral Gables Monday, to reap the latest talent from what has been a generous pipeline. With current NFL stars such as DL Calais Campbell, TE Chris Herndon, TE David Njoku and RB Duke Johnson, the University of Miami continues to be well represented at the pro level. At Pro Day, the school itself will hold court, not just to promote the 2019 class and beyond, but to demonstrate how ‘The New Miami’ plans to dominate at the next level. Because few things make Canes’ familia proud like hearing a player announce their name and their intention to represent The U.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!