Just how important is a pro day? Following the NFL Scouting Combine, it's the best chance for professionals to be to catch the eye of NFL teams. While many of the timing drills can be suspect and the quarterback portions are scripted, a good pro day can boost a player's stock.
It's an especially beneficial exercise for those players not invited to the combine. New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz largely got drafted based on his pro day showing. Antonio Gates didn't play a down of college football. At Kent State's pro day in 2003, however, he earned a training camp invite from the San Diego Chargers.
For player who went to the combine, a pro day is their last shot to show off. Henry Melton of the Chicago Bears, for instance, showed he could play defensive tackle after moving from running back.
Undoubtedly, there will be a few players like Cruz, Gates or Melton this year. In an effort to find out who they may or may not be, we'll be examining notable pro day performances and how it affects a player's NFL Draft fate.
Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas Pine-Bluff
In just a few months, Armstead has gone from being a small-school player to an unearthed gem. He held his own at the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl and ran the fastest 40-yard dash time of any offensive lineman at the NFL Combine. He capped off his stellar offseason by showing off his footwork for San Diego Chargers offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris at his pro day. Gil Brandt of NFL.com notes that Armstead worked out for an hour and scored a private workout with the Dallas Cowboys. Notice a trend? The Chargers and Cowboys both desperately need an offensive tackle. It won't be a shock if one of the two falls in love with Armstead.
Terrell Sinkfield, WR, Northern Iowa
Saying you knew about Terrell Sinkfield before this week is like saying you saw the Black Keys in front of 20 other people on a club's small secondary stage.* Sinkfield ran a mind-splitting 4.19 40-yard dash at Minnesota's pro day. While 40-yard dash times at pro days are suspect, that's still lightning quick. Sure, a Minnesota Vikings personnel person said he had Sinkfield in the 4.3 range. Why spoil the fun? Sinkfield is faster than most. He now has NFL teams going back to his tape against Wisconsin and Iowa from last season. In those two games, he combined for nine catches for 106 yards and showed deep speed. At the least, his 40 time earned him a training camp invite.
Emory Blake, WR, Auburn
The former Auburn wide receiver was a combine snub ran times of 4.61 and 4.62 in the 40, but that's not the story here. What better way to spend the biggest work audition of your life than with your father? That's what Blake got to do when his father, former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake, threw for him at his Tuesday pro day. It's the "aww" moment of this year's pro days. From AL.com:
"Honestly, my dad throws probably the most perfect ball I've ever caught," Emory said. "It's never too heavy. A lot of quarterbacks step in there and try to drill you, he's just trying to make it a catchable ball. That makes it easy for me as a receiver."
Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
After a bad showing at the combine, Moore needed a good pro day. He improved his bench press rep number from 12 to 19. That's good. He decided not to run the 40-yard dash. In 2013, when you're a defensive end that ran a 4.9 in Indianapolis, that's bad. Then he stumbled on his short shuttle run. That's even worse. But on his second run, he clocked an unofficial 4.34 short shuttle. That's good! Moore is the yo-yo of the 2013 NFL Draft, and his offseason workouts are proving as much. Some teams may think highly of him, others may not think of him at all.
Quarterback turned who knows what Denard Robinson is throwing at Michigan's pro day. That can't be good.
Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson
After pulling his hamstring at the combine, Ellington sat out Clemson's pro day on Thursday. After running a 4.61 40-yard dash, Ellington needs a good workout. Because of the devaluation of the position, the stock of a running back can fluctuate wildly. Ellington, who will work out on March 29, could get passed over by players like Joseph Randle and Jonathan Franklin.
Kyle Padron, QB, Eastern Washington
Padron left Eastern Washington with a year of eligibility remaining, always a risky proposition for non-FBS players. Then he didn't get invited to the NFL Combine last month. During his pro day, Padron's workout was interrupted by hail and snow. He had to throw to stationary targets, which proves little about his throwing ability.
Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
Feel the wrath of pirate Mike Leach. Wilson quit his Washington State football team. As part of his professional plundering, Leach barred Wilson from Washington State's pro day. NFL rules prohibit Wilson from going to a smaller school and taking part in their pro day. He'll either have to scramble and arrange a personal day or sit on his combine showing (where he met with just eight to 10 teams).
Actual pro days
Who needs a pro day when you can just schedule a personal workout day? A few years ago, there would only be a few personal pro days. They're held because players are still rehabbing injuries. Although no record is kept of such things, I'd guess this year will feature the highest number of personal workout days ever. For instance, Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen won't work out until April 9. Mid-round defensive lineman prospect John Simon sat out today's Ohio State pro day and will work out on March 25. Florida State's Tank Carradine will work out in April. Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse I'm not sure he's that guy that, down the road, he develops into something else. People will like him, but I'm not sure I'm thinking of him as a down the road starter in the NFL.
*Note: I saw the Black Keys in front of approximately 17 people at the Beachland Tavern once. TOP THAT. Or not. Whatever.