In recent years, especially in light of the pandemic-ridden offseasons, NFL Draft Prospects have had the opportunity to show off their talents at program-specific Pro Days. And, in most instances, these Pro Days serve as the final step in the NFL Draft Process. That is no different for the Miami Hurricanes 2023 NFL hopefuls who will reach their final official benchmark of the draft process on Monday.
The intimate Pro Day experience should give the 12 draft-eligible players the most exposure to media, scouts, coaches, and GMs prior to the NFL Draft at the end of April. To that end, while only two Hurricanes were invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis earlier this month, Will Mallory and Tyrique Stevenson, it is anticipated that DJ Ivey, Lou Hedley, Justice Oluwaseun, Caleb Johnson, Antonio Moultrie, Mitchell Agude, Devon Perry, Waynmon Steed, Lucious Stanley, and DJ Scaife will try to make the most of this opportunity. Several of these guys have had some NFL scout exposure by way of the Senior Showcases/Bowl Games.
In past years, the pro days on college campuses served as one portion of the multifactorial draft process. However, with seven of the Canes’ prospects not having the opportunity to participate in the Combine, the pro day serves as a one-stop shop for combine drills, face-to-face interviews/networking, and a personalized platform for NFL evaluators to test prospects with individualized workouts.
NFL DRAFT PROCESS SCHEDULE:
February - Senior Showcases: Complete (East-West Shrine Bowl, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Hula Bowl, Tropical Bowl, and CGS Bowl)
February 28-March 6 - NFL Combine, Indianapolis: Tyrique Stevenson and Will Mallory invited
March 27 - Miami Pro Day*
April 26: Deadline to time, test, and interview draft-eligible players
April 27-29 - NFL Draft, Kansas City
Interestingly, the NFL’s Annual League Meeting takes place in Arizona from March 26-20, where all 32 NFL Head Coaches, GMs, and other personnel meet to discuss the state of the league - which will inherently defray a lot of the big name coaches from attending. This could be a far cry from prior Canes Pro Days where typically high profile scouts from all 32 NFL teams are in attendance at Greentree, including the likes of top coaches and GMs. For what it’s worth, a number of other schools also have their Pro Day on Monday including former Cane and Miami native, Nesta Jade Silvera, at Arizona State, and programs like UNC, Memphs, and Boise State.
Pro Day— Miami Hurricanes Football (@CanesFootball) March 20, 2023
Excited to see these guys put on a show a week from today! https://t.co/zTqizspeIq
So how does one value a Pro Day Workout and What Should Viewers Look For?
The exact answer to this question will drastically differ depending on the position, as well as the individual’s strengths and weaknesses at the position. In particular, the workouts and focus on certain drills will greatly differ for Tyrique Stevenson and DJ Ivey compared to pass catcher Will Mallory who may sit on his impressive combine numbers that included the fastest 40 among Tight Ends, which will differ from those compared to lineman on both sides of the ball like DJ Scaife and Antonio Moultrie. Punter, Lou Hedley, who participated in the NFLPA Bowl, was an NFL Combine snub after being a Ray Guy Finalist in 2020, and will look to showcase his strong leg. Each players’ Pro Day regimen Monday may vary as scouts seek to examine each athletes’ strengths and weaknesses.
2023 NFL Draft Update: Senior and NFLPA Bowl Recap & Combine/Pro Day Preview— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) March 2, 2023
Tyrique Stevenson, Will Mallory (and Nesta Jade Silvera) shined at the Senior Bowl and lead future ProCanes at the Combine in Indy this Week.#Miami https://t.co/XsIMb3fhJK pic.twitter.com/Wj7Xqin92W
When accounting for how a prospect will pan out at the next level, the specific pro day workouts do not necessarily provide a foolproof mechanism of the college player’s success. For example, the 40-yard dash is largely an overrated metric as players are almost never running in a straight line for 40 yards undeterred.
To that end, a word of caution when reviewing Pro Day results and potential inconsistencies: Similar to standardized tests being used as a barometer for earning school admission and/or professional licenses, the Pro Day workouts/combines are a necessary evil in order to evaluate talent, athleticism, and the like. Through these drills, evaluators can fill in gaps and script areas that do not necessarily show up on game film (i.e. bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, shuttle run, 3-cone, as well as size measurements). Also, scouts and coaches could force the players to workout in a way to expose potentials areas the player struggle in during game tape. That is, in the position drills, a coach may request a pass catcher run a certain route a few times if that player appears to struggle with it during live action. Scouts essentially want to make sure the traits match the tape.
So, even though the pro day results are not a perfect science and are in fact like apples to oranges when compared to game film, there is immense value that will come out of Miami’s testing. Position drills for those who did not get to go to the Combine will be integral, as well as the in-person interviews.
Will There Be Current Canes and Older Alumnus in Attendance?
In addition, teams have been unique with their Pro Days. For example, Ohio State had top 2023 QB prospect, CJ Stroud, throw passes to his targets at the Buckeyes’ 2022 Pro Day, and top WR prospect for the 2024 draft, Marvin Harrison, Jr. participated in OSU’s Pro Day this week.
We could definitely see Tyler Van Dyke in attendance as he has developed significant rapport with Mallory. Van Dyke hopes to increase his national recognition with a bounceback 2023 and this could provide invaluable exposure to NFL scouts and coaches for him early in the process. His roommate, Xavier Restrepo, and other Cane WRs may show up to haul in passes and get some extra practice in between Mallory’s reps.
Also, keep in mind that older NFL free agents have the opportunity to try out at the Pro Day in front of the NFL personnel if they so desire - 33-year old free agent QB, Cam Newton, participated in Auburn’s Pro Day this past week.
Regardless, the focus will be on the 12 prospects who are eligible for the 2023 NFL Draft as this will likely be the last, and most important, opportunity to impress NFL evaluators. There is a chance that players opt for additional individualized pro days before the draft in late-April. However, without more information on that front, the Pro Day and upcoming interviews will be the final steps in the process before April’s Draft.
As of now, Stevenson and Mallory are likely to get drafted but most ProCanes hopefuls are on the outside looking in according to most draft experts.