Seahawks Pro Day Notebook: Kansas, Northwestern, and Wisconsin-Whitewater

Matty F. Brown and Corbin Smith introduce their series looking at the testing numbers which arrive from NFL Pro Days across the nation, starting with Kansas, Northwestern, and WIsconsin-Whitewater.
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With NFL Scouting Combine testing cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the significance of pro days has increased dramatically in 2021. Once an event which people looked at skeptically, they are now of great importance. The concern regarding inflated and inaccurate numbers remains valid, but where else can you get the testing numbers of NFL Draft prospects? Nowhere. The months of March and April are going to be busy as each school showcases their eligible stars.

Over the next several weeks, Matty F. Brown and Corbin Smith will take a deep dive into testing numbers for prospects who may be on the Seahawks radar heading towards the 2021 NFL Draft. We'll kick off the series with Kansas, Northwestern, and Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas kicked off the pro day circuit on March 5, shortly before firing their head coach Les Miles. The Jayhawks have long struggled in the Big 12. This was reflected in that their only notable NFL hopeful was running back Pooka Williams Jr. - unless you consider long snapper Logan Klusman.

Williams played four games of his junior year before declaring for the NFL Draft. 2020 was disappointing for him, where he averaged just 3.8 yards per carry. Prior to this campaign, Williams rushed for 5.2 yards per carry as a sophomore and 7.0 yards per carry as a freshman. 2019 saw a rushing total of 1,061 yards, while he ran for 1,125 yards in 2018.

Williams’ dynamic production carrying the football in the Big 12 made him an exciting option. His carries showed patience, tempo‐ing, and vision. Yet Williams’ pro day testing appears to have put him dangerously close to Donnel Pumphrey, Day 3‐to‐undrafted free agent range.

Measuring 5-foot-8 and weighing just 175 pounds, teams will be concerned about Williams’ size regardless of how well he ran the ball in college. His wingspan measured 72.6 inches and his arms 30.7 inches long.

Though Williams ran a fast 4.38 second 40-yard dash, the rest of his numbers were underwhelming. The 31.5-inch vertical jump and 118-inch broad jump show a lack of true explosion. Meanwhile the 7.02 second 3 cone and 4.01 second short shuttle suggest average agility/change of direction skills. Putting up just four reps on the bench press should come as no surprise given Williams’ size.

KUsports.com, who published the Pro Day numbers for Williams, also reported that the running back has already spoken to five or more teams, “including a brief conversation with the Kansas City Chiefs and an interview with the New Orleans Saints.” I'm sure that prospects will "interview" with almost every team given COVID 19's proliferation of videoconferencing tools such as Zoom. 

It should be said that Williams’ pro day numbers merely confirmed what was apparent on tape. That’s a lesson that should always be applied to these prospect numbers, combine or pro day. Sometimes these figures can make evaluators go and re‐watch a prospect. In other instances, such as the case of Williams, they serve as a nice tick for various boxes. -Matty F. Brown

Northwestern Wildcats

Coming off a strong season in Big Ten play, Northwestern may have as may as two players go in the first round of April's draft. Standout tackle Rashawn Slater bolstered his stock by running a sub-4.90 second 40-yard dash and a 7.48-second 3 cone drill, further improving his odds of being selected in the top 10. His measurables were a bit more underwhelming, as his arm length measured in at only 33 inches.

Nonetheless, Slater's chances of going in the top 10 picks increased with a strong workout in front of NFL scouts and evaluators. He will be long gone before Seattle has a chance to make a selection.

However, cornerback Greg Newsome may be a player to keep an eye on as a possible second round target for the Seahawks. Measuring in at 6-foot, 192 pounds, he run a blazing 4.38-second 40-yard dash, which surely would have ranked among the fastest times if the combine took place in Indy this year. He also impressed with a 40-inch vertical leap, further showcasing his explosiveness.

Aside from his athletic testing, Newsome's overall workout wasn't near as impressive as Slater. Per a source who attended the Wildcats' pro day festivities, his lateral quickness and agility didn't translate to drill work and he looked fatigued at times, which is never a good sign for prospective teams. He also measured in with short 31 1/8-inch arms, which falls below the typical threshold for Seattle cornerbacks.

The biggest issue for Newsome has been staying healthy. He missed nine games due to an ankle injury as a freshman, missed four games due to injury as a sophomore, and then exited the Big Ten championship game last year with a groin injury, so durability remains a significant concern that could drop him out of the first round.

Still, Newsome has flashed on the field at Northwestern and checks off plenty of boxes the Seahawks look for at the position. Last season, per Pro Football Focus, opposing quarterbacks completed just one out of eight targets and posted a 0.0 passer rating against him on pass attempts with 10-19 intended air yards. He didn't allow a single catch on throws of more than 20 yards either. Such production could keep him squarely in the first round mix. -Corbin Smith

Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks

It's rare to see a Division III program have a highlighted pro day during the pre-draft process, but it's also rare for a player the caliber of Quinn Meinerz to come from a school such as Wisconsin-Whitewater. All 32 teams reportedly had representatives at Tuesday's workout to watch the emerging prospect and didn't leave disappointed.

Once again weighing in at 320 pounds - exactly what he weighed in at during the Senior Bowl in January - Meinerz put on a show during athletic testing. He posted two sub-5.00 second 40-yard dash times, including his fastest time being 4.86 seconds with a 1.73-second 10-yard split, and wowed with a 32-inch vertical jump. To cap off a sensation workout, he ran his 3 cone drill in 7.33 seconds, showing better change of direction skills than anticipated.

Before Tuesday's pro day, Meinerz already was one of the fastest rising players on this year's draft board after holding his own at the Senior Bowl. He addressed questions about level of competition by consistently pancaking elite Division I talent in Mobile, seamlessly transitioned to center - a position he didn't play in college, and displayed incredible toughness by continuing to play through a broken hand suffered at one of the practices.

With the competition concerns being addressed, the last piece of the puzzle was seeing how well he performed athleticism-wise. After turning heads in Whitewater, he now has an outstanding shot at being an early day two selection and might even sneak into the first round, which would be a remarkable accomplishment for a Division III alum. -Corbin Smith

Here is the full schedule of upcoming pro days:

Wednesday, March 10: Arkansas, Marshall, Maryland, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin

Thursday, March 11: Clemson, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas

Friday, March 12: Arkansas State, North Dakota State, Oklahoma

Monday, March 15: Army, Kent State, Middle Tennessee State, Vanderbilt

Tuesday, March 16: Georgia Tech, Temple

Wednesday, March 17: Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Pittsburgh, San Jose State

Thursday, March 18: Auburn, Buffalo, Central Arkansas, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, Stanford, Troy, West Virginia

Friday, March 19: Memphis, Ohio, TCU

Monday, March 22: Air Force, Bowling Green, Colorado, Colorado State, Florida State, Iowa, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Toledo

Tuesday, March 23: Alabama, Central Michigan, Iowa State, Nebraska, Purdue

Wednesday, March 24: Michigan State, Mississippi State, South Carolina, USC, Virginia

Thursday, March 25: Georgia Southern, Liberty, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Texas, Penn State, San Diego State, Southern Methodist, Tennessee, Western Michigan

Friday, March 26: Boston College, BYU, Michigan, South Dakota State, Virginia Tech

Monday, March 29: Arizona State, Duke, Louisiana-Lafayette, Miami (Fla.), Miami (Ohio), North Carolina

Tuesday, March 30: Alabama, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Louisville, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Tulane, Washington

Wednesday, March 31: Boise State, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana State, Notre Dame, Wake Forest

Thursday, April 1: Appalachian State, UCF, Minnesota, Charlotte, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, South Florida, Western Kentucky

Friday, April 2: Oregon, Tulsa

Wednesday, April 7: Texas Tech

Friday, April 9: UAB, Ball State, Houston, Rice

There are also private companies hosting combine‐style events. We've already seen the EXOS Combine on March 3 and the House of Athlete combine March 5th.