College pro days have hit the home stretch, and Monday was a big one, with three heavyweights taking center stage on Monday: Alabama, Notre Dame, and the University of Miami.
The 2021 NFL Draft is just a month away, and some prospect-heavy schools still remain, such as Ohio State on Tuesday and Florida on Wednesday as NFL teams such as the Eagles make their final evaluations.
It was the second pro day availability for the Crimson Tide, and this one featured quarterback Mac Jones, linebacker Dylan Moses, cornerback Patrick Surtain II, and coach Nick Saban. The Tide will have its pro-day drills on Wednesday.
Notre Dame trotted out a slew of players, including linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who could be a curveball the Eagles throw as their pick at No. 12.
Miami unleashed several players of high caliber as well, led by edge rushers Greg Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips as well as tight end Brevin Jordan and linebacker Quincy Roche, who had 30.5sacks, 54 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles, and eight fumble recoveries in his career and ran a 4.66 on Monday.
Owuso-Koramoah, though, may have had the quote of the day when he was asked about the Eagles and the possibility of playing in Philadelphia.
“Speaking in terms of the Eagles, I think I fit better than the other guys in terms of my mentality,” said JOK, who is from Hampton, Va. “The Eagles are a place that’s a gritty place. You gotta have some fierceness to survive in Philly. You win in Philly, they love you. You lose in Philly they hate you, so you have to be able to deal with that.
“Coming from my background even here at Notre Dame there were a lot of situations that I had to persevere through, and I think that, first and foremost, my mentality prepares me more than some of the other players in terms of Philly, in terms of my athletic ability, in terms of my physicality at the point of attack, in terms of block shedding. I think I excel in a lot of things if we’re comparing other guys, but in terms of hilly I think that’s what separates me.”
Surtain, of course, is a name that is now associated with the Eagles after they traded down from No. 6 to No. 12 prior to the start of this past weekend. The CB said he had not yet met with the Eagles.
Like the other two CBs mentioned as top-15 talent, Surtain has the prerequisite confidence.
“I just believe I’m the best (cornerback) in the SEC because of my consistency and my experience playing here for three years,” said Surtain. “Just staying consistent and playing my game at a high level each and every week. That’s what separates me.”
Added Saban: “Patrick Surtain, first of all, he’s a great person, he’s never been in my office in three years for anything he didn’t do, and he does things exactly like you lay it out for him. If you want to talk about accountability and responsibility, you’re never going to find anybody who does it any better than he does."
Surtain talked about having to practice daily against a pair of receivers expected to go in the top 15 in Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle.
Waddle is suddenly getting a lot of love in mock drafts going to the Eagles at No. 12, but Saban talked about Smith and the biggest concern about him – underwhelming size.
“I think his performance speaks for itself,” said Saban. “When we recruited DeVonta Smith he weighed 159 pounds and I wished he was bigger. Now he weighs 170 pounds and I think people at the next level are probably saying I wish he was bigger.
“Saying all that to say this, there are bigger people who don’t perform anywhere near how he performs. There are people that are bigger than him that don’t have the competitive spirit that he has or the competitive toughness.
"Tell me how many receivers are tougher than he is, that block better, that play more physical than he does, so I think maybe there’ a time when you say this guy really overcomes the fact that he’s not the biggest guy in the world and he really plays this game really, really well, and I don’t think anybody could argue that fact.”
Miami’s Phillips is out to prove that he loves football, after retiring briefly following a litany of injury history before transferring to Miami from UCLA, injuries that included a wrist and concussions.
“The proof is in the pudding,” said Phillips, who had eight sacks and 15 tackles for loss in 2020. “My play on the field obviously showed. I didn’t miss a game, I didn’t miss a workout, I didn’t miss anything. … I don’t think it’s risk at all. We play a dangerous and violent game so obviously people get hurt, but I wouldn’t be here today if I was a risk.”
The 6-5, 260-pound Phillips is the 22nd-ranked prospect by NFL draft expert Daniel Jeremiah, who has Rousseau as his 13th best prospect despite Rousseau playing only as a redshirt freshman when he had 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss but opted out last year.
“My focal point was just to get better in everything, my get-off to my hands to my explosiveness,” said Rousseau, who is 6-6, 266. “Just working on everything football related so I could be at my best to whichever team picks me up.”
If the Eagles want to go edge rusher at No. 12, perhaps Rousseau or Phillips make sense to them.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.
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