On Tuesday, the weather gods were pleased enough with Jeremy Foley's offering of re-structuring the coaching staff to hold off the north Florida rain, allowing 22 participants to enjoy their last on-field attempt at staking their claims for this year's NFL Draft spots during Florida's Pro Day.
Headlining the day were Dante Fowler Jr., a consensus top-10 pick, and D.J. Humphries, a first round hopeful, and the rest of the participants were as follows: On the offensive side of the ball, Matt Jones, Tevin Westbrook, Gideon Ajagbe, Quinton Dunbar, Mack Brown, Clay Burton and Andre Debose represented for the playmakers, while Tyler Moore, Max Garcia, Drew Ferris, Chaz Green and Trenton Brown rounded out the offensive line; on defense, Neiron Ball, Mike Taylor participated in linebacker drills, Jabari Gorman was the lone defensive back doing work, and Leon Orr and Darious Cummings showed their stuff in the trenches.
Though I wasn't able to be in attendance for the first time in three years (sad), there were plenty of eyes to report from including both local and national media outlets, as well as all 32 NFL teams having at least one representative on the grounds. Here's the news I saw and heard and my honest draft stock opinions for those I believe have a chance to get selected.
Matt Jones, RB
Matt Jones left the NFL Scouting Combine with OK results. A man his size running a 4.61 in the 40-yard dash while putting up 20 reps on the bench was good, but he looked a bit uncomfortable during drills. Today, however, some scouts clocked his 40 time at a 4.38 unofficial to start his workout. Now, I'm a fan of Jones, but even I thought that was unrealistic. Then I saw this video.
Trenton Brown, OT
NFL execs and mainstream media members continue to love Trenton Brown. When he showed up at the NFL Combine, anyone who'd not see him yet in person were blown away by his size. One of those people is the godfather of the NFL Draft, NFL Network's Gil Brandt, who continued to raved about Brown today.
Brandt also had this to say of Brown in his recap of Florida's Pro Day:
He had a really good pro-day workout in front of those nine NFL offensive line coaches present in Gainesville. Brown moves well for a guy his size (he ran a 5.29-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine). Brown really helped his draft status
Brown was on the edge of the seventh round when the season was over due to conditioning concerns and questions of whether he could turn that size into dominance as an NFL offensive tackle. However, with every draft event (Senior Bowl, Combine, Pro Day), Brown has boosted his stock. I bet he's a 4th-5th round guy now. The Cardinals are the only team to have shown him individual attention, as of now, but that could change.
D.J. Humphries, OT
For a guy who was told by the NFL Draft Advisory Board to stay in school, Humphries has made quite the national name for himself in this weaker offensive line class.
What was always alluring with Humphries was his lower body quickness. When you talk about the ideal left tackle, the "bonus traits" you get from a right tackle have to now be almost necessary. One of those traits is being quick on your feet, which, you can imagine, is difficult for a 300 lbs. man to be. Here's an example of how, in two steps, Humphries completely opens up his hips and is already at full speed.
Tuesday he met with the Browns, Panthers, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Saints, and that's just on Tuesday. I find it harder and harder to believe he'll slip to round 2.
Max Garcia, OL
Max Garcia may be the nicest guy you'll meet, but he's a mean cuss when it comes to offensive line work. On Tuesday, not only did he record 30 reps on the bench press (most ever for a Florida Pro Day), but he also participated in drills specific to offensive tackles, offensive guards and centers. So far he's met individually with the Bears, Broncos, Eagles, Steelers and Buccaneers. His versatility will be a key selling point on draft weekend. He'll have his name called, I'd project around the 4th or 5th round.
Neiron Ball, LB
What Ball presents to his future NFL team is almost becoming uncommon with the linebacker position, in that, he's a true outside linebacker. When I say that what I mean is he's not a specialized pass rushing 3-4 OLB you see a lot more of in today's college football. Ball came into his Pro Day at 236 lbs., which was good. It helped solidify a concern about him being too long and lean. He also showed his pursuit speed well with a 4.6 40-yard dash. After the day, Gil Brandt had this to say of Ball.
Ball is coming off microfracture surgery that took place in mid November. He really looked good in the positional drills. Ball was smooth and fast, and he has good hips so he can turn and run with no problem at all.
The question now becomes not only can Ball convince teams he can stay healthy, but can he keep that weight on and get some much needed durability for himself. He's not a "wow" player, but he is a production player, and a speedy, Telvin Smith-like LB on the outside.
Dante Fowler Jr., DE
Ah, yes, the main attraction. The moment we've all been waiting for. It hurts me to reference Florida's Pro Day as Fowler's last time doing drills and making football plays in the Swamp. Not only is he a great talent, but he's a great kid, too -- for further reinforcement of that statement, I really encourage you all to read this piece from USATODAY Sports on Fowler's football journey.
Fowler stood on his NFL Combine 40 time of 4.59, but didn't shy away from doing on-the-field workouts for any team willing to look at him... which was all of them.
Fowler's talents are no secret. He's been a consensus Top-10 pick for quick a while, even with the rise of Clemson's Vic Beasley and Kentucky's Bud Dupree challenging him as the first edge rusher off the board. However, the Top-10 isn't his ceiling, in fact, Fowler's not even thinking beyond the Top-5. His most likely potential targets are Jacksonville at No. 3 and Washington at No. 5, both have heavy edge rushing needs.
Fowler, of course, had a little fun with the day. He talked about how he feels like no matter where he's picked in the top five, he's going to feel like the No. 1 overall pick with both Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston opting to not attend. He's had individual workouts and meetings with the Falcons, Jaguars, Buccaneersm and Titans.
There's a reason why that list is so small. Just look at Fowler's wrist and you'll see: Serious buyers only.
As for the rest, here are my thoughts.
Chaz Green - The only reason I have Green down in this list is simply because I couldn't find much specific info on his day today. In terms of his draft stock, he's right in that 5th-7th round range. He's had meetings with the Falcons, Bills, Panthers, Cowboys, Texans, Saints, Chargers and Buccaneers. His personal visits to the Cowboys and Bills are the ones I'm hearing have weight to them.
Leon Orr - Did himself some good by running two sub-5.0 40-yard dashes, but it's still an uphill climb for him.
Andre Debose - Reportedly ran a 4.38 and posted a 37 inch vertical jump. Those are explosive (and needed) numbers for him, but it's all about if a team believes he can be healthy and is willing to give him a KR/PR tryout during camp. I don't think he's drafted, but I think he gets that tryout.
Quinton Dunbar - Netted himself a couple second looks with a nice 40-yard dash time of 4.47 to go along with a 9'10" broad jump. Unfortunately for Dunbar, this wide receiver class is very deep. He's another undrafted practice squad guy, if you ask me.
Clay Burton - At 6'4", 255 pounds, Burton's frame (and maybe a little help from his brother Trey's special teams success in Philly) will get him a few extra looks. To me, he was interviewing for a camp invite on Tuesday.
Hunter Joyer - Wasn't able to participate because he recently tore his ACL while training in South Florida. He's set to have surgery on Friday. That's a shame. The league needs more fullbacks.
Kyle Christy - Accoring to NFL Network:
Punter Kyle Christy (6-2 5/8, 202) kicked the ball well at the pro day.