Ja'Marr Chase, Terrace Marshall and JaCoby Stevens were three of the highly anticipated prospects to follow at LSU's pro day. While all were given different draft day stocks heading into Wednesday's event, the trio dramatically improved their 2021 draft stock.
Jim Mora has been to his fair share of pro days throughout his NFL career. As a longtime coach of the New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons, Mora has evaluated hundreds, if not thousands of players over the years. Because there is no NFL combine prior to the draft which officially starts April 29, colleges are hosting individual pro days that carry much more weight than they typically would.
"Pro day's are interesting and they're different this year because there's no combine. They become very focused and it's a pressure environment for the players," Mora said. "We've seen what they can do on tape and now you want to confirm some of the things that we've seen on tape. It's a chance to see their body type, their frame and what they look like in size potential."
While Marshall and Stevens proved to many why they should be considered as first and third round picks respectively, Chase was a sure fire top 10 pick regardless. If there was one thing that Chase accomplished above all else with his 4.38 40-yard dash and 41-inch vertical in Mora's eyes, it was solidifying his position as the No. 1 receiver in the class.
"There are some guys where the opinion is not gonna change and one of those guys is Ja'Marr Chase. He's so special," Mora said. "When you take his measureables and the traits he has as a wide receiver, the only way he could hurt himself on pro day is if he exhibited attitude of arrogance. He's not gonna do that.
"I think people just stood there in awe and said look at that physique. Look at this guy run, look at the athleticism, look at how he conducts himself and how focused he is. I think what he did honestly, is I think he clearly pushed himself ahead of Devonta [Smith] because of the physicalness."
Marshall was always on that fringe of the first round but with his 6-foot-4 frame and equally impressive 4.38 40-yard dash times, Mora sees Marshall going anywhere in the 20s, a ringing endorsement for a player who could fall to a number of teams looking for receivers that could compete for a championship.
Imagine Marshall on a team like the Baltimore Ravens or Green Bay Packers.
"Marshall and the athleticism that he shows at that size, that burst and the acceleration, he solidified himself as a first round guy. I see him somewhere in the mid 20s. To me, he confirmed all of the things we already knew about him."
But the true shock of the afternoon was Stevens, who ran an impressive 4.50 40-yard dash and jumped an incredible42-inch vertical. The talent and playmaking ability was always there with Stevens but NFL talent evaluators, all had questions about his athleticism.
Seen as a tweener, likely a hybrid safety and linebacker at the next level, Mora said that a team needs to have a good plan in place to truly unlock Stevens' talent.
"I thought JaCoby Stevens jumped off the board and this is what I like about him. Versatility is an asset right now and today's NFL is so pass happy that an athlete like JaCoby and he's a playmaker who played in a great environment. You find a place for this guy. If he's not a starting safety, he's your starting nickel or in your dime package which you're playing 50-60% of the time anyway."
Photo courtesy of LSUsports.