Thursday was Johnny Football Day, and the rest of the pro day slate only highlighted the enigmatic quarterback even more. Ball State, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Georgia Southern, Louisiana Tech, Northern Iowa and Yale all held their workouts for prospective 2014 NFL Draft picks. Among the players participating, none are considered sure-fire selections. That doesn't mean they failed to impress scouts in attendance, however.
Mike Evans shows off opposite Manziel
Texas A&M already had its official pro day on March 5, but the school reserved Thursday to showcase arguably its two most high-profile prospects. As mentioned above, Manziel did plenty to help his draft stock. So, too, did Mike Evans, who is projected to be one of the first wide receivers taken in the NFL Draft.
Manziel went 61-for-64 passing to various wideouts. His connections with Evans were perhaps the most impressive, however. NFL.com's Gil Brandt was particularly impressed:
Mike Evans has the best hands I've seen since Calvin Johnson.— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 27, 2014
Otherwise, the wideout excelled, and solidified his potential to be the first wide receiver taken in the 2014 NFL Draft. His final connection with Manziel might have been the prettiest of the day. The rep showcased Evans' athleticism and concentration, as well as Manziel's arm.
Willie Snead proves NFL worth
Willie Snead set out to prove his NFL worth Thursday after a somewhat middling performance at the NFL Combine in February. He ran in the 4.6-range in the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis and hoped to improve by running it again at his pro day. No official times were available, so you can judge for yourself:
Snead put up monster numbers last season, catching 106 passes for 1,516 yards and 15 touchdowns. Representatives from 21 teams were on hand to see Snead run, so the verdict on his draft status may already be made in their minds.
WR Willie Snead
QB Keith Wenning
DE Jonathan Newsome
Eyes set on Taliaferro, Hazel
Representatives from nine NFL teams made the trip to see the Chanticleers' best NFL prospects, including former Coastal Carolina quarterback and hopeful NFL backup Tyler Thigpen, on Thursday. No two player performances were more anticipated than wide receiver Matt Hazel and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, however.
Hazel was singled out by SB Nation's own Danny Kelly recently in Kelly's in-depth look at how to evaluate wide receivers. Hazel clearly has great hands, and he proved at the NFL Combine that he is a heck of an athlete as well. Per Myrtle Beach Online, he stood on his Combine numbers Thursday and once again showed off his excellent receiving skills.
"That's all they really wanted to see today, and Thig did a good job throwing today," said Hazel, who has been practicing with Thigpen for the last week. "I got some great feedback from scouts, so I'm just happy with what I did."
Taliaferro, meanwhile, reportedly looked good quick running the ball and consistent in receiving drills. He also improved his combine testing numbers in the vertical jump (34 inches from 33), bench press (22 reps of 225 pounds from 18 reps) and broad jump (a slight tick up to 10 feet).
WR Matt Hazel
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
CB Josh Norman
DT Mitchell Brooks
Jerick McKinnon shines at RB and DB
Jerick McKinnon is shooting for a mid-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. He did himself some good Thursday by showing off his versatility as both an offensive player and a defensive player. According to Tony Pauline of Draft Insider, McKinnon "looked good in both defensive back and running back drills." Pauline added:
He was fluid, smooth and for the most part looked natural in the secondary. Westbrooks played some DB early in his GSU career.
RB Jerick McKinnon
DB Lavelle Westbrooks
Louisiana Tech's best prospects pick up speed
Call it biased timing, or perhaps the weather, but both of Lousiana Tech's Combine invitees dramatically improved their 40-yard dash times at their pro day Thursday. According to the Shreveport Times, defensive tackle Justin Ellis ran a 5.02 after running a 5.27 in Indianapolis. Defensive end I.K. Enemkpali, meanwhile, broke five seconds with a 4.85 after going 5.01 in Indy. Enemkpali also improved his vertical jump to 36 inches off 34 inches to help strengthen his case as a worthwhile draft selection.
DT Justin Ellis
DE I.K. Enemkpali
K Tyler Sievertsen
WR Chris Smith