Lance Zierlein's prospects with something to prove at pro days
Pro days will have added importance this spring as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the NFL to cancel its annual combine. These on-campus workouts will serve as the only opportunity for prospects to get on the practice field in front of teams prior to this year's NFL Draft.
The pro day circuit opens this Friday at the University of Kansas before kicking into high gear next week with Kansas State, Northwestern and Wisconsin-Whitewater on March 9.
NFL teams are limited to a maximum number of three representatives at any pro day this year.
As Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo sent to all 32 teams in January, the league will "work with the schools to encourage consistency in testing and drills across pro days and ensure that all clubs have access to video from those workouts, irrespective of whether the club is represented at a particular workout."
NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein compiled a list of 10 prospects who could really use their respective pro days to boost their draft stock ahead of April 29, and the list features some intriguing names.
Here are a few of Zierlein's prospects with something to prove this spring:
WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
"The speedy slot burst onto the scene with a huge true freshman season for the Boilermakers, but suffered a season-ending injury four games into his sophomore year. His decision to opt back into the Big Ten season was exciting news for draft evaluators, but he averaged just 7.7 yards per catch in the three games he played. Moore's draft stock has fallen off, but he can regain the buzz if he crushes his quickness testing and runs a fast 40." -- Zierlein
EDGE Jayson Oweh, Penn State
"The pre-draft process is made for players like Oweh to turn heads and create buzz. He's long-limbed with a well-defined athletic frame that draws the oohs and ahhs in movement drills. After a season in which he failed to register a single sack over seven games, Oweh could use a pro day where he shows off his physical gifts and brings himself back into the forefront for teams that covet explosive traits." -- Zierlein
WR Nico Collins, Michigan
"Collins was a 2020 opt-out, and while his 2019 tape was solid, he failed to consistently impress at the Senior Bowl week of practices. The Michigan product's big, but he's not a player who will shake and uncover on short-area routes. He wins with his size and his ability to get over the top on deep throws. He has good build-up speed and could use a relatively fast 40-yard dash to pair with his plus size to brand himself as a second- and third-level field stretcher." -- Zierlein
EDGE Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh
"There was a lot of initial buzz among draft media pundits when it came to Jones' potential draft-day stock, but the tape simply didn't match that hype in my eyes. The Senior Bowl was a tough week for Jones, too, as he failed to dominate in one-on-ones as some expected. He has an explosive get-off, so the vertical leap and 40-yard dash should work in his favor. A big day of testing and fluid field movements would help." -- Zierlein
CB Shaun Wade, Ohio State
"Many draft analysts hung onto their initial grades and first-round projections for as long as they could, but Wade's play simply didn't hold up in 2020. In fact, I would argue that the tape has been spotty from the slot and on the outside. However, he clearly looks the part, which is what helped create excitement in the first place. That said, Wade appeared slow in the College Football Playoffs, so he needs to run well and test great to help re-focus the attention on his traits." -- Zierlein
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah updated his ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft for the final time before the start of the draft.
NFL.com's analytics mock draft has Giants taking Alabama WR
With mock draft season fully in effect, we have seen several different names connected to the Giants since the end of the season.
In NFL.com's first analytics mock draft of the year, Cynthia Freelund, NFL Network's analytics expert, predicted how the first round could play out "based solely on a contextual, data-driven model that aims to do one thing: maximize each team's potential to win as many games as possible in 2021."
Freelund's picks incorporate each team's current roster, the overall market of potential free agents and the 2021 draft prospects. The first analytics mock draft of the spring has the Giants using the 11th overall pick on Alabama wide reciever DeVonta Smith.
Smith set all-time SEC marks in 2020, finishing the year with 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. He took home numerous accolades, including the Heisman Trophy, the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top wide receiver, SEC Offensive Player of the Year and many others. Smith also finished his career as the SEC's all-time leader in receiving yards (3,965) and receiving touchdowns (46).
As Freelund writes, "Smith is my WR2 because his consistent route running and ability to earn separation give him the highest projected floor and ceiling in this class. The Heisman Trophy winner had the highest percentage of receptions in which he had more than 3 feet of separation at the time of the catch despite a defender being within 3 feet of him on the path of the route. This vision carries over into yards after the catch; his ability to increase his speed once he had the ball in his hands was the third-best in the FBS this season."
Peter King discusses Giants' offseason on Huddle podcast
NBC Sports' Peter King joined John Schmeelk on the Giants Huddle podcast to discuss what the Giants might do in free agency and the draft this offseason.
Check out the audio below to listen to King's full discussion with Schmeelk.