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Pro Day Dilemma: Who Is Missing Out

by Derrik Klassen
Updated On: March 26, 2020, 2:32 am ET

Pro Days are excellent opportunities for lesser-known players to put themselves on the map and for established prospects to salvage potentially poor NFL Combine outings. With Pro Days around the country being cancelled (or at least postponed), however, many players will miss out on that opportunity this year. Here are a handful of the top names who should have benefited from Pro Days this year. 

All NFL Combine information via Mockdraftable

NFL Combine Snub Category

Utah QB Tyler Huntley

As far as quarterbacks are concerned, Tyler Huntley was by far the most egregious NFL Combine snub. With jug-machines like Brian Lewerke, Kevin Davidson, and Steven Montez getting invites, it does not make sense that a dual-threat with fantastic numbers in the PAC-12 would not get an invite. 

The question many analysts and scouts likely have with Huntley is how accurately and comfortably he can throw. If invited to the NFL Combine, the throwing sessions would have been a great opportunity for Huntley to showcase his comfort and accuracy to scouts, coaches, and general managers in person. It sounds silly, but in-person showings can go a long way in the scouting process, which is why events like the Senior Bowl are often coveted. 

Huntley would have also been able to prove himself as one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the class. Cole McDonald, Justin Herbert, and Jalen Hurts all put up numbers that would have likely topped Huntley’s, but the three-year starter from Utah could have sat atop that next tier. That may not have given him a major bump, but it’s better than nothing. 

Louisiana OL Kevin Dotson

Pro Football Focus is not a be-all, end-all by any means, but their grading system put Kevin Dotson as the best run-blocking guard among this year’s draft eligible players. At 6-foot-4 and 310-pounds, Dotson is a stout interior lineman with the size and strength of an absolute mauler. Some of that strength and nastiness comes at the price of agility and flexibility, but given his clear success as a people-mover, there should be no reason a small-school stud like Dotson gets left out of the Combine. 

As such, Dotson’s Pro Day would have been the chance to prove he can move and bend perhaps better than many analysts and scouts are led to believe. Dotson would not have knocked it out of the park and sprung himself into the top-50, but a decent showing may have been enough to push him into the back end of the top-100 or early portion of Day 3. 

UCF RB Adrian Killins

Adrian Killins is small. An NFL Combine invite would not change the fact that Killins is almost certainly too small to play a meaningful role in the NFL. However, Killins is also dangerously fast and could have seriously turned heads with a blazing time on the 40-yard dash. The obvious Henry Ruggs III would have beat him out, but Killins landing himself in the top five would have earned him a bit of buzz. 

Army CB Elijah Riley

Not many military academy players get drafted each year. Only a small handful tend to even be in the conversation each draft season, let alone end up hearing their names on draft day. In fact, the last player to be drafted from Army specifically was Caleb Campbell, a 7th-round pick in 2008. Elijah Riley is certainly on the outside looking in. 

A cornerback with safety potential, Riley needed a strong showing at his Pro Day to prove to teams he possesses the athletic tools to be a do-it-all defensive back at the back of the depth chart. Players with positional flexibility and special teams ability, especially at DB, often find themselves holding roster spots since they “cover” a handful of positions at once, opening up spots for depth at other positions. 

With no Pro Day, however, Riley will not get that chance. Teams will have to buy in on Riley solely from his film, which does not bode well for someone already projected as an undrafted free agent. 

Bad NFL Combine Category

Washington TE Hunter Bryant

It is one thing for a tight end to be undersized. It is one thing for a tight end to have up-and-down film with clear lapses in catch ability. It is one thing to have a dreadful outing at the NFL Combine. When a player fits into all three categories, though? Bad news. 

Hunter Bryant weighed in at 6-foot-2 and 248-pounds, making him an oddly thick yet undersized tight end. The U-Dub tight end also measured in the 13th percentile in arm length, which is not the best for a position which will need to handle defensive ends at the line of scrimmage. What could have saved Bryant’s poor frame measurements, however, was a killer showing during the athletic testing drills, but Bryant came in about average or worse in just about every category. 

Bryant’s jumps were average. His short-shuttle measured in the 30th percentile. With a 4.74s 40-yard dash, Bryant posted a modest time, but one that looks far less impressive when considering his size. Bryant’s only area of clear success in the drills was during the three-cone drill, where he hit 7.08s to measure in the 66th percentile. 

At Washington’s now-pretend Pro Day, Bryant could take a few ticks off that 40-yard dash while perhaps adding a few inches to each of his jumps. Though not major improvement, the slight bumps could have moved his athletic profile from below-average to passable. In a weak tight end class, even a minor bump like that could mean plenty of draft slots. 

Washington WR Aaron Fuller

A bad case of the dropsies plagued Aaron Fuller during his time at Washington. Though he was fairly consistent in working himself open, at least by college standards, Fuller never found consistency with his hands and struggled to make a dynamic impact as a ball carrier. If anywhere, the NFL Combine should have been Fuller’s chance to regain some stock and flash the athleticism to suggest he can separate in the NFL, but he came nowhere close to doing so. 

After measuring in at a wiry 5-foot-11 and 188-pounds, Fuller tested in the 34th percentile or worse in the four drills he participated in: three-cone drill, broad jump, vertical jump, and 40-yard dash. 

Fuller’s lackluster 4.59 40-yard dash, in particular, is a stain of his athletic profile. However, it likely could have been the area with the most improvement potential had Fuller been able to run at a Pro Day. Had Fuller even been able to get down to a 4.50s flat, his athletic profile would look considerably less concerning. 

TCU WR Jalen Reagor

Jalen Reagor occupies an odd space wherein his NFL Combine was not as bad as it initially seemed, while still not being nearly as impressive as it was supposed to be. 

On the positive side, Reagor crushed the jump drills, which bodes fairly well for an explosive receiver who likes to work down the field as a deep threat. Reagor's 4.47s 40-yard dash was a bit lackluster, but in all honesty, it is still a decent time, even if he surely would have been looking to improve upon it at his Pro Day. 

Where Reagor really needed help was with his agility drills. Like many players who participated in agility drills this year, Reagor completely fell apart. Assumed to be an agile, quick wide receiver, Reagor measured in below the 10th percentile in both the three-cone drill and the short-shuttle. In fairness to Reagor, some other big names such as Jerry Jeudy tanked in the agility portion as well, but Reagor has not earned himself quite the same level of leeway a clear star such as Jeudy has. Reagor needed the testing numbers to confirm what many believe him to be on film, but with his agility numbers being so poor, especially for a smaller receiver (5'11/206), there is legitimate reason to be concerned. 

The blazing TCU deep threat could have turned out a better agility showing at the Pro Day, but alas. 

Wake Forest LB Justin Strnad

Justin Strnad entered the NFL Combine as an unusually tall 6-foot-3, 238-pound linebacker with mid-round hopes. Strnad left the NFL Combine as an unusually tall linebacker with an atrocious athletic profile — a profile that should knock him down boards in what is already a questionable linebacker class. 

Strnad’s 4.74s 40-yard dash was not inspiring, but that was the least concerning of the four drills he performed in. Both of Strnad’s jumps were poor, with his 29-inch vertical jump hitting just the 5th percentile. Strnad also tanked the lone agility drill he participated in by running a 4.49s short-shuttle that put him in the 9th percentile. 

Notre Dame S Jalen Elliott

Four eight zero forty. 

Jalen Elliott ran a 4.80s 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Even for the slowest, meanest, linebacker-like safety in the world, a 4.80s 40-yard dash is inexcusably bad. 

The caveat with such an atrocious time is that a player can run slow by accident. Whether it was a bad day or improper training, it is entirely possible that Elliott ran considerably slower at the NFL Combine than whatever his “normal” is supposed to be. For that very reason, a Pro Day showing is exactly what Elliott needed to prove to NFL teams that 4.80 was an aberration, not his norm. 

With no Pro Days to come, Elliott will have to standby on draft weekend hoping that a team can convince themselves to draft a safety who ran the 40-yard dash like a bad tight end.