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. Continuing the series, the duo examines pro day results for Louisiana Tech, Northern Iowa, and SMU from a week ago.
Even without the combine, smaller school prospects are managing to alert scouts to their presence. Milton Williams had a day of testing that made him a lot of money. At 6-foot-3, 284 pounds, Williams ran a 4.62-second 40-yard dash and 6.87-second 3-cone. He jumped 38 1/2 inches in the vertical and 10-foot, 1-inch in the broad. 34 reps on the bench was Williams literally flexing.
Williams’ profile in Seattle gives him some 3-tech defensive tackle and big end (5-tech) traits. For Louisiana Tech, he played in that very college role of aligning on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle and the outside shoulder of the guard. In those three years, Williams put up 10.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.
The one thing which may dissuade NFL teams is Williams' arms measuring only 31 1/2 inches long. Like his athleticism is visible, the limitations of his shorter arms are also. The Seahawks want their 3-tech tackle and their big end to have arms measuring 33 inches or longer. At a certain point, though, athleticism wins through. Aaron Donald’s combine showed him to be gifted with supreme athletic ability and he only has 32 5/8-inch arms. -Matty F. Brown
Under John Schneider and Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have only drafted six players who played at a lower level than FBS Division I competition. Most recently, they used a seventh-round pick on receiver David Moore out of tiny East Central Oklahoma University in 2017, but in the past three drafts, they haven't used a single pick on a player from FCS Division I or lower levels of the college ranks.
However, the Senior Bowl has been a crucial part of Seattle's evaluation process with Schneider and Carroll at the helm. Without the NFL Scouting Combine taking place this year, those who participated in the events in Mobile should be even more on the team's radar than a normal offseason, including two standout prospects from Northern Iowa.
At some point, the Seahawks will need to find Duane Brown's heir apparent at left tackle and despite playing against FCS competition, rising prospect Spencer Brown could be on the team's short list as a possible target in the second or third round. Coming off an impressive week at the Senior Bowl, he measured in at 6-foot-8, 311 pounds with 34 3/4-inch arms at UNI's pro day.
Then, Brown turned in one of the finest workouts you will see by an offensive tackle prospect. While he lost a few reps on bench press due to technical issues, he still repped 225 pounds 29 times. In athletic testing, he exhibited rare change of direction skills for an offensive lineman with a sub-7.00 second 3-cone drill and also posted a 4.90-second 40-yard dash and 31 1/2-inch vertical jump.
Still in need of polish before he's ready to start in the NFL, Brown presents a ball of clay for an NFL offensive line coach to work with and mold into a potential Pro Bowl talent down the road. A team like Seattle that doesn't have an immediate need for a starter at either tackle spot could be the perfect landing spot teaming the uber-athletic prospect with a respected coach in Mike Solari.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks may no longer be in the market for edge rushing help after re-signing Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa. But if the team employs the "best player available" approach with limited picks, Panthers standout defensive end Elerson Smith continues to rocket up draft boards and could be an enticing LEO or even SAM linebacker option in Carroll's scheme.
An AFCA First-Team All-American in 2019, Smith produced a whopping 14.0 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss as a junior. Like Brown, he opted out of the 2020 season when the Missouri Valley Conference moved football to the spring, choosing instead to declare for the draft and participate in the Senior Bowl festivities as part of his pre-draft preparation.
After performing well in Mobile, Smith further bolstered his stock by lighting it up in athletic testing at UNI's pro day workout. Aside from running the 40-yard dash in 4.71 seconds, he jumped a ridiculous 41 1/2 inches in the vertical jump and registered a 7-second flat 3-cone drill. He also tacked on 26 bench press reps for good measure before further demonstrating his fluid athletic ability in on-field workouts both as a defensive end and a linebacker, which should intrigue the Seahawks if he's available starting on Day 3. -Corbin Smith
Brandon Stephens is the latest cornerback to have pinged on Seattle’s radar. Stephens was 6-foot, 219 pounds with arms measuring above the magic threshold: 32 1/4-inch long. Combined with the 19 bench press reps Stephens put up, he satisfies what the Seahawks look for from a physicality standpoint when it comes to testing.
This was also a cool move from Stephens:
Stephens tested explosively too, running a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, then leaping 38 inches vertically and 10-foot, 7-inches in the broad jump. Stephens did not run the agility drills and there is usually a reason for decisions like this. Still, it seems that the UCLA transfer is a clear Day 3-to-undrafted free agent option for Seattle. Stephens had 22 pass deflections and an interception in 23 games for the Mustangs. Where’s that SMU tape at? -Matty F. Brown
The recent free agent signing of Gerald Everett could take the Seahawks out of the running to draft a tight end. This may be especially true for a player such as Kylen Granson, who offers a similar build (6-foot-1, 241 pounds) to Everett and a less refined skill set that will need development for him to be a factor at the next level.
But Seattle always is in the market for athleticism and compared to most of the tight ends in this year's draft class, Granson possesses intriguing athletic traits and tested quite well at SMU's pro day. He ran a 4.61-second 40-yard dash, posted a very good 7.05-second 3-cone drill, and showed off his explosiveness with a 36 1/2 inch vertical jump. He also put up 16 reps on bench press, which is a respectable total for his size.
With Everett only being on a one-year deal, Granson could provide the Seahawks with a quality hedge to develop as a late-round pick or a priority free agent. He set an SMU school record for tight ends with nine touchdown receptions in 2019 and amassed 78 receptions for 1,257 yards in his two seasons with the program, proving himself to be one of the better receiving threats at the tight end position in the country. -Corbin Smith
Here is the full schedule of upcoming pro days:
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 5.