With the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine operating under a different format this year, pro day workouts are taking on a heightened importance this spring. Clemson and Texas held their pro days on Thursday, giving some of the top prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft a chance to make an impression on NFL scouts.
Presumptive No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence would have been the day's main attraction, but he did not participate in the Tigers' workout on Thursday after holding his pro day last month prior to undergoing surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder. However, there was still plenty of interest in the Clemson prospects who did work out on Thursday, as 31 teams sent representatives to the pro day (the Cowboys were the only team that did not attend). Bills GM Brandon Beane, Cardinals GM Steve Keim, Dolphins GM Chris Grier, Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland and Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin were among those in attendance.
How did the top prospects perform on Thursday, with NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah's RB1 Travis Etienne in the spotlight? Check out the quick rundowns below.
NOTE: Times listed below are unofficial.
Ranking in Daniel Jeremiah's top 50: No. 18
Etienne (5-foot-10, 215 pounds) clocked 40-yard dash times of 4.41 and 4.43 seconds. The results might not have matched the expectations some had for the dynamic Tigers rusher, but the time was certainly fast enough to satisfy Jeremiah, who said he'd like to see Etienne get back to his playing weight (208-210 pounds), with the added pounds likely costing him some speed. Jonathan Taylor was the only running back to run a sub-4.4 40 at last year's NFL Scouting Combine (official time of 4.39 seconds).
The ACC's all-time leader in career rushing yards posted a vertical leap of 33.5 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 8 inches.
"Does he have the ability to catch the ball and run routes, maybe like a Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara type? He's already a three-down running back, but how special could he be in the passing game? When you watched him today, he caught the ball pretty well," Brooks said on NFL Now. "A little more natural than I thought he looked on tape. I think he comes away with a pretty good workout. He helped himself."
Powell (6-0, 204) was clocked at 4.53 and 4.51 seconds in the 40. He posted a vertical of 36.5 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 8 inches. He broke through this past season, making 53 catches for 882 yards and seven touchdowns after being stuck behind NFL WRs Mike Williams, Tee Higgins, Hunter Renfrow, Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud, among others, over the course of his first four collegiate seasons. He's a likely Day 3 pick.
Rodgers (5-9, 212) posted a 4.51-second 40 on Thursday, as well as a 33-inch vertical and 10-foot-1 broad jump. The son of former University of Tennessee and NFL QB Tee Martin, Rodgers also worked out at running back on Thursday. He was Trevor Lawrence's go-to guy in 2020, leading Clemson with 77 grabs for 1,020 yards and seven TDs. NFL.com analyst Chad Reuter projected the Lions to take Rodgers in Round 3 of his most recent mock draft.
Ehlinger gets strong marks for intangibles (i.e. leadership, toughness), but he said Thursday that he's been focusing on his footwork, among other things, as he looks to make the transition from a RPO-heavy offense to a more traditional pro-style offense in the NFL. He's projected to be a Day 3 pick.
Ossai had social media buzzing on Thursday after blazing a 4.63-second 40 at 256 pounds. He also wowed with a 41.5-inch vertical jump and broad jump of 10 feet, 11 inches. Brooks' No. 3 outside linebacker in this year's draft, Ossai certainly gave NFL evaluators reason to go back and take another look at his game tape.