Path To The Draft

Pro Day Highlights: Follow top draft prospects

NFL clubs rack up frequent flyers miles and hotel points this time of the year.

Right now, front office executives, coaches and scouts are zigzagging the country to attend pro days at college campuses, where prospects hold workouts similar to the ones last month at the NFL Scouting Combine. But these are within the friendly confines of home. In addition to drills on the field, clubs can meet with prospects, run them through a film session, take them out to dinner, hold private workouts, and other things of that nature. They can then invite a maximum of 30 players to their NFL facility to get to know them further in an allotted span of 24 hours. That process ends April 17, one week before the NFL Draft kicks off in Nashville.

Below is a look at the notable pro days involving prospects on NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 list.

April 3: Washington State

Top 50 Prospects: OT Andre Dillard (No. 11)

A four-year letterwinner, Dillard appeared in 42 games, starting the final 39 at left tackle. He was a two-time All-Pac-12 Conference selection and earned All-America honors as a senior. In 2018, he was rated the third-best offensive tackle in the country, the top pass-blocking tackle and second-best screen-blocking tackle in the country by ProFootballFocus College after allowing just one sack on 677 pass attempts.

April 1: Washington

Top 50 Prospects: CB Byron Murphy (No. 26), S Taylor Rapp (No. 39), OT Kaleb McGary (No. 41)

Voted a first-team All-American by two outlets, Murphy was named MVP of the Pac-12 Championship Game, when he scored the game's only touchdown on a 66-yard interception return. He also had another interception in the win over the Utes. He finished his career with seven interceptions, 27 pass breakups and two forced fumbles in two seasons. Rapp was voted first-team All-American by four outlets in 2018. He played in and started the first 13 games of the season before missing the Rose Bowl due to injury. After redshirting in 2014, McGary became the starting right tackle for the next four seasons. In a vote by opposing team players, he was the winner of the 2018 Morris Trophy as the top offensive lineman in the Pac-12.

March 29: Ole Miss, TCU

Top 50 Prospects: Ole Miss—WR D.K. Metcalf (No. 17), WR A.J. Brown (No. 37); TCU—EDGE L.J. Collier (No. 44)

Metcalf started the first seven games of the 2018 campaign before suffering a season-ending neck injury. Prior to that, he was ranked fourth in the SEC with five touchdown catches and third in the conference with 569 receiving yards. As a redshirt freshman in 2017, he was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. He was awarded a medical redshirt as a true freshman after missing 10 games in 2016 with a broken foot. Brown finished as the all-time leading receiver in Ole Miss history with 2,984 yards and 12 100-yard games. He is third on the program’s career leaderboard in receptions with 189 and fifth with 19 touchdown catches. He is the only receiver in Ole Miss history to tally 60 or more receptions in back-to-back seasons.

A first-team All-Big 12 selection in his 2018 senior season, Collier was the highest graded edge rusher in the conference according to Pro Football Focus. He had a career-high 6.0 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in his final season.

March 28: Houston, Florida State

Top 50 Prospects: Houston—DT Ed Oliver (No. 6), Florida State—EDGE Brian Burns (No. 24)

Oliver became first three-time All-American in Houston history, He finished his final season with 14.5 tackles for loss and 54 tackles despite missing four games with an injury. Oliver won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman in 2017 (Alabama’s Quinnen Williams was the recipient in 2018). Burns ranks fifth in Florida State history with 24.0 sacks. He appeared in 38 games with 25 starts and recorded 124 tackles, including 39.5 for loss, seven forced fumbles, seven pass breakups, three blocked kicks and two fumble recoveries. 

March 27: Florida, Mississippi State, N.C. State, Arizona State

Top 50 Prospects: Florida—OT Jawaan Taylor (No. 13); Mississippi State—EDGE Montez Sweat (No. 10), DT Jeffery Simmons (No. 18), S Johnathan Abram (No. 25); N.C. State—C Garrett Bradbury (No. 22); Arizona State—WR N’Keal Harry (No. 42)

With the exception of two games on the left side, Taylor was a three-year starter at right tackle for the Gators, garnering second-team All-SEC honors while being named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 2018. Florida's offensive line allowed just 18 sacks over the course last season, which ranked 20th in the country and third among SEC teams.

A tight end recruit coming out of high school, Sweat began his college career at Michigan State, where he moved to defense. He was then suspended and dismissed from the team.

“I started out young and immature, and I was dismissed,” Sweat said last month at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. “I’ve grown from that so much, and I just want to keep on building on that and show teams I’ve matured a lot.”

After a year playing in junior college, Sweat joined the Bulldogs and immediately became a first-team All-SEC selection. He teamed with Simmons to become one of the best defensive line duos in America. On Feb. 12, Simmons announced he had torn the ACL in his left knee while training in Florida.

Behind Sweat and Simmons was Abram, who led the team last season and ranked eighth in the SEC in tackles (99). He also topped the conference and was third in the nation in total pressures among safeties (16), according to Pro Football Focus.

Bradbury, who also arrived on his college campus as a tight end, moved to guard as a redshirt sophomore in 2015 and then center a year later. In his first season at center, he was a first-team All-ACC choice. In 2018, he was awarded the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation’s most outstanding center.

Harry was named to the Pac-12 All-Conference team at wide receiver (first team) and return specialist (second team) as a junior in 2018. He ended his junior campaign with 1,088 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, marking the second time in his career with 1,000 yards in a season and eclipsing a previous career-high of eight touchdowns. Harry left ASU third in program history in both career receptions (213) and career receiving yards (2,889).

March 26: Duke, Texas A&M, Iowa State

Top 50 Prospects: Duke—QB Daniel Jones (No. 35); Texas A&M—C Erik McCoy (No. 40); Iowa State—RB David Montgomery (No. 49)

The Manning family carries a lot of weight in football. The Cutcliffe name does the same in the Manning household. Duke quarterback Daniel Jones has a reverence for both. Before taking over as head coach of the Blue Devils in 2008, David Cutcliffe helped mentor Eli and Peyton Manning, two former SEC Players of the Year who went on to be drafted No. 1 overall in their respective classes. With Eli, he was the Ole Miss head coach. With Peyton, he was the assistant head coach and ran the offense at Tennessee. So it wasn’t uncommon for Cutcliffe to pull up the brothers’ tape and show it to Jones during his tenure at Duke, where he threw 52 touchdowns and ran for 17 more in 36 career games. Jones capped his collegiate career with a record-setting bowl performance. He threw for 423 yards and five touchdowns, both Independence Bowl records. So was Duke’s point total in a 56-27 victory over Temple. It was Cutliffe’s first Independence Bowl victory since Eli led Ole Miss to a win over Nebraska as a junior in 2002.

Erik McCoy started 39 games -- 37 at center and two at guard in his sophomore 2017 season – and helped pave the way for the Aggies to rush for over 2,000 yards in each of his three seasons. He blocked for the SEC’s leading rusher in Trayveon Williams in 2018. McCoy was given the Offensive Unselfish Leader Award, the Offensive MVP Award, Junior Academic Award and Strength and Conditioning Offensive Aggie Award at the team’s annual banquet.

David Montgomery was the fourth player in Iowa State history to earn All-America honors in multiple seasons. He ranked third in the Big 12 and 23rd nationally in rushing yards per game (101.3) in 2018, becoming the eighth Cyclone with multiple 1,000-yard seasons. At 5-foot-10 and 222 pounds, Montgomery led the nation in forced missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus, for the second straight year.

March 25: Iowa

Top 50 Prospects: TE T.J. Hockenson (No. 5), TE Noah Fant (No. 15)

Hockenson received the 2018 John Mackey Award as the top tight end in the nation and was named the Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year in the Big Ten. He was voted first-team All-America by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and USA Today, and picked up Academic All-Big Ten for the second consecutive year. Fant caught 19 touchdowns in his career, the most ever by an Iowa tight end and third-most in Big Ten history. He had four career games with multiple touchdowns. In 2017, Hockenson led the nation’s tight ends with 16.5 yards per catch and 11 touchdown receptions, which is also an Iowa tight end record.

March 22: Kentucky, LSU, Delaware

Top 50 Prospects: Kentucky—EDGE Josh Allen (No. 3); LSU—LB Devin White (No. 31), Greedy Williams (No. 31); Delaware—S Nasir Adderley (No. 33)

After leading the state of New Jersey in quarterback sacks at Montclair High School, Allen was first in the SEC in quarterback sacks, tackles for loss, and forced fumbles as a senior. He won the Bednarik Award as college football’s best defensive player. A two-star recruit, Allen was set to go to Monmouth, but a string of late de-commitments forced Kentucky to take a chance on him.

White led his position at the combine in the 40-yard dash and was second in the vertical jump. Those are two key traits for the modern linebacker and part of the reason why Jeremiah ranked him as the top linebacker in this year’s class. White converted to linebacker after originally signing with the Tigers as a running back. He went on to become the program’s first winner of the Butkus Award as college football’s top linebacker in 2018. Showing range and instincts from the middle linebacker position, he picked up consensus All-America honors before choosing to forego his senior season. Andraez Williams, nicknamed “Greedy” by his grandmother, was a finalist for the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back. He earned first-team All-America honors in 2018 and was a two-time All-SEC selection. Williams led the SEC in interceptions in 2017 with six. He grew up playing youth league football with Devin White.

Vince Lombardi once told Herb Adderley that he was the best cornerback he had ever seen. Nasir Adderley is just trying to prove he is the best defensive back in his draft class. The Delaware safety is related to the Hall of Famer known for playing in four of the first six Super Bowls, winning championship rings in three of them. His grandfather is cousins with Herb, and Nasir would receive old film from his days with the Packers and Cowboys. Adderley took a page from his relative’s career and proved his versatility with the Blue Hens. He started his freshman and sophomore years at corner, moved to free safety and nickel as a junior, and then played strictly free safety in his final collegiate season. The Philadelphia native finished the year with a career-high 87 tackles, which ranked in the top-20 nationally for defensive backs. He also had a team-high four interceptions and seven pass break-ups to go along with one forced fumble and fumble recovery. Adderley was the only player in the country with over 160 tackles and nine interceptions over the past two seasons. For good measure, Adderley added a 92-yard kickoff return touchdown.

March 21: Missouri, South Carolina

Top 50 Prospects: Missouri—QB Drew Lock (No. 23), South Carolina—WR Deebo Samuel (No. 47)

Lock led the nation in touchdown passes (44) in 2017 while setting the Mizzou single-season passing efficiency record (165.67). He also led the SEC in efficiency, passing yards, total offense, passing yards per game, passing yards per completion (led nation), and points responsible for. He added 28 touchdowns in 2018 to finish his career with 99. A standout wide receiver and kick returner, Samuel garnered all-conference and All-America recognition in addition to a Senior Bowl invite. He logged 86 career receptions for 1,194 yards and scored 28 career touchdowns: 16 receiving, seven rushing, four via kickoff return and one fumble recovery. He also threw one touchdown pass.

March 20: Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame

Top 50 Prospects: Ohio State—EDGE Nick Bosa (No. 1), QB Dwayne Haskins (No. 20); Georgia—CB Deandre Baker (No. 30), WR Riley Ridley (No. 36); Notre Dame—DT Jerry Tillery (No. 34)

Despite playing only three games in his junior season, Bosa is still the top-ranked player on Daniel Jeremiah’s list. He suffered a core muscle injury in 2018 that forced him to miss the rest of the year. Bosa did have a dominant sophomore season in 2017, when he was named the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the year, and first-team All-Big Ten with eight sacks and 15 tackles for loss. Perhaps the best quarterback prospect in Ohio State history, Haskins put up unbelievable numbers in his only starting season. He finished with 4,831 passing yards and completed 70 percent of his passes with 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and finished third in the Heisman Trophy Voting.

A two-year starter at Georgia, Baker had two interceptions and 10 passes defended as a senior, earning first-team All-American honors and winning the Jim Thorpe Award as the Nation’s top defensive back. Known for his route running, much like his older brother Calvin, Riley Ridley did not post as impressive combine numbers as his brother did in 2018. His 44 receptions led the Bulldogs last year, good for 570 yards and nine touchdowns.

Tillery had his best season as a senior, with eight sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and two blocked kicks. He was named a second-team All-American by the AP.

March 19: Alabama, Penn State, Louisiana Tech

Top 50 Prospects: Alabama—DT Quinnen Williams (No. 2), RB Josh Jacobs (No. 7), OG Jonah Williams (No. 19), TE Irv Smith Jr. (No. 27); Penn State—RB Miles Sanders (No. 43); Louisiana Tech—Jaylon Ferguson (No. 45)

Topping 300 pounds, Quinnen Williams dominated his red shirt sophomore season, earning first team All-American and SEC awards by posting 7 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. He dominated the 2019 NFL Combine and was a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski, Bednarik, and Outland Trophy Awards. He is projected as a dominant interior pressure player. Jonah Williams excelled early as a freshman at Alabama, starting at right tackle and earning All-SEC Freshman status. He moved over and started at left tackle as both a sophomore and junior, earning first-team All-SEC recognition both years. He was a first-team All-American as a junior, and was a finalist for the Outland Trophy. He could be used at tackle or guard in the pros. Part of a timeshare in the backfield, Jacobs never had the full-time starting running back job at Alabama. In 2018, he gained 640 yards on 120 carries and scored 11 touchdowns. He could be the first running back off the board in April. Smith broke into the starting lineup in 2017 as a sophomore, catching 14 passes for 128 yards. He was named All-SEC in 2018 with 44 catches for 710 yards and seven touchdowns.

A backup for Saquon Barkley at Penn State until 2018, Sanders took advantage of the opportunity to start by rushing for 1,274 yards and scoring nine touchdowns. He also caught 24 passes on his way to a second-team All-Big Ten selection. Sanders impressed at the combine.

In his four year career at Louisiana Tech, Ferguson set a FBS record with 45 career sacks. He led the nation in sacks as a senior with 17.5 and had 26 tackles for loss. He was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press, and finished his career as the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year.

Photos of the top college prospects participating in their pro days

March 18: Temple, Michigan State

Top 50 Prospects: Temple--CB Rock Ya-Sin (No. 28); Michigan State--CB Justin Layne (No. 46)

Ya-Sin started his career at FCS Presbyterian College, where he played for three seasons and earned All-Big South honors. He went to Temple as a graduate student and was named first-team All-AAC with two interceptions and two pass breakups. Layne began his career at Michigan State as a receiver, but moved to cornerback in his freshman season. As a junior he was named Second Team All-Big Ten when he intercepted a pass and broke up 15 passes. He is known as a bump and run cornerback.

March 14: Clemson

Top 50 Prospects: DT Christian Wilkins (No. 4), EDGE Clelin Ferrell (No. 21), DT Dexter Lawrence (No. 32), CB Trayvon Mullen (No. 48)

Graduating in just two and a half years, Wilkins earned the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is considered the most prestigious academic award presented to athletes by the National Football Foundation. Wilkins was a team captain in his final two seasons, and was named a first-team All-American and first-team All-ACC as a senior. He is a penetrating, disruptive defensive tackle.

A redshirt junior, Ferrell had 27 sacks and 50 tackles for loss in his time along Clemson’s defensive line. He was named an All-American as a junior, was first-team All-SEC in each of his final two years, and won the Ted Hendricks Award as a senior, which is given to the nation’s top defensive end. He is ranked on Daniel Jeremiah’s Top 50 list because of his excellent hands and technique.

A monster of a man at 6-4 and 342 pounds, Lawrence was a top five recruit coming out of high school. He started all three seasons, and won the ACC Freshman of the Year award. Lawrence was named first-team All-ACC in his sophomore and junior seasons, and racked up 20 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in his Tiger career. He is projected to fit as a traditional nose tackle.

Mullen capped his college career by winning Defensive MVP in the National Title game earlier this year, with a sack, interception and forced fumble. He was a second-team All-ACC selection in 2018 with an interception and four pass break-ups. 

March 13: Oklahoma

Top 50 Prospects: QB Kyler Murray (No. 12), WR Marquise Brown (No. 16), OT Cody Ford (No. 29)

Murray threw at his Pro Day after eschewing the opportunity at the NFL Combine. In his junior season at the University of Oklahoma he finished with 4,361 yards while completing 69 percent of his passes with 42 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He won the 2018 Heisman Trophy. Brown was unable to perform at Oklahoma’s pro day because of a foot injury. He is a speedster without a lot of size. He was named first-team Big 12 after recording more than 1,300 yards on 75 catches for 10 touchdowns. He is nicknamed “Hollywood.” Ford, a redshirt junior, was the Sooners’ starting right tackle and selected second team All-Big Ten. He is considered a mauler, with some analysts predicting he might perform better at guard. 

March 6: Kansas State

Top 50 Prospects: OT Dalton Risner (No. 38)

The redshirt senior started at both center and right tackle during his four years at Kansas State. He was named second-team All-American by the Associated Press for his play during his senior season, and was voted first-team Big 12 at right tackle in his final three years. Risner is 46th on Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 big board.

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