With the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine operating under a different format this year, pro day workouts are taking on a heightened importance this spring. Alabama, Ohio State and Washington were among the schools that held their pro days on Tuesday, giving some top 2021 NFL Draft prospects a chance to make an impression on scouts and NFL executives.
How did the top talents perform? Check out the quick rundowns below.
NOTE: Times listed below are unofficial.
Attendees included GMs John Lynch (49ers) and Ryan Pace (Bears), as well as head coaches Bill Belichick (Patriots), Sean Payton (Saints) and Kyle Shanahan (49ers).
Ranking in Daniel Jeremiah's top 50: No. 21
Mac Jones got a receiving boost for his workout from Smith and Harris, who ran routes for Jones after passing on the opportunity at UA’s first pro day last week. Smith hasn’t fully healed from a finger injury suffered against Ohio State in the national championship game, per NFL Network’s James Palmer, who was on assignment in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Harris declined to run the 40-yard dash but did participate in other drills, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, who was also on assignment at the event. The star RB is still dealing with an ankle injury that he suffered during the Tide's postseason run.
Ranking in Daniel Jeremiah's top 50: No. 32
The 49ers' decision makers were taking a close look at the Tide QB just days after the club moved up to the No. 3 pick of the draft in a trade with the Miami Dolphins. The aforementioned Shanahan confirmed that Jones is indeed among the prospects the team is considering with the third overall selection, per Rapoport.
Jones had several overthrows over the course of a 65-toss script in his second throwing session in as many weeks, but included a heavy helping of deep passes and play-action throws. He earned strong reviews from NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah.
"I thought he was better at this pro day than the first one," said Jeremiah during Tuesday's Path to the Draft Pro Day Special. "... I thought he looked quicker, I thought he looked more crisp getting outside and even some of the stuff he did here within the pocket, I liked. Now, he overshot a couple balls, which was fine. If you're going to miss, miss long. But I thought, if you're going to stack it up and compare workout No. 1 versus workout No. 2, I saw more in this workout that got me excited than I did in the first one."
From all accounts, Jones accomplished exactly what he wanted to and has put himself in the conversation to go much higher than where the conventional wisdom had him placed prior to his two workouts.
"I just wanted to show that I'm not a statue and I can make plays. I'll be able to do that, hopefully, at the next level," he told Palmer after his throwing session. "Obviously, it's not going to be a clean pocket with five perfect blockers. I'm going to have to move a little bit, but you also don't want to ruin the structure of the play. I just wanted to show that on a few, even on my creative footwork and stuff, but at the end of the day, I'm a pocket passer. I'm just going to drop back and let it rip."
Thirty-one NFL teams sent representatives to the Buckeyes' pro day (the Rams were the only team that did not travel to the event). GMs in attendance included Trent Baalke (Jaguars), Andrew Berry (Browns), Kevin Colbert (Steelers), Scott Fitterer (Panthers), Terry Fontenot (Falcons), Brian Gutekunst (Packers), Brad Holmes (Lions), Martin Mayhew (Washington Football Team), Jon Robinson (Titans) and Rick Spielman (Vikings).
Head coaches Mike McCarthy (Cowboys), Urban Meyer (Jaguars), Matt Rhule (Panthers), Arthur Smith (Falcons) and Mike Tomlin (Steelers) were also spotted at the pro day.
Ranking in Daniel Jeremiah's top 50: No. 8
Before he threw his first pass at Ohio State's pro day, Fields managed to turn heads among NFL personnel with his speed. He ran unofficial times of 4.45 and 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, blazing-fast times for a quarterback of Fields’ size (227 pounds). He measured 6-foot-2 3/4 with a hand measurement of 9 1/8 inches, according to NFL Network reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala, who was on assignment in Columbus, Ohio.
"The ball jumped out of his hand on drive throws. On deep throws, was able to layer the ball. He showed you everything you wanted to see within a pro day workout," Jeremiah said. "... This environment was set up for him to excel and he knocked it out of the park."
The 2020 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year skipped most physical testing on Tuesday, but did push 25 reps on the bench press and performed in position drills. Davis measured 6-3 5/8 and 315 pounds, according to Reese's Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy.
“I feel like I did a very good day of showing my knee is fine. It’s back to 100 percent,” Davis told Eleven Warriors.
Sermon put eye-popping production on tape for scouts in the college postseason, amassing 589 total yards on 67 touches against Northwestern in the Big Ten title game and Clemson in the CFP semifinal before an injury knocked him out early in the national title game against Alabama. On Tuesday, he also posted some impressive numbers for scouts -- a 37-inch vertical jump, a broad jump of 10 feet, 5 inches, a short shuttle time of 4.38 and a three-cone drill clocking at 6.83, per Nagy. Sermon's 40-yard dash times of 4.60 and 4.57, while not spectacular, were fast enough to allay scouting concerns about his speed.
"He's a violent runner. He'll drop his shoulder, you'll see some stiff-arms," Jeremiah said. "He's just a very physical guy with the ball in his hands. He caught the ball well. He's got soft hands. To me, pass protection is going to be the area where he's going to have to step up and improve."
Ranking in Daniel Jeremiah's top 50: No. 30
The Huskies defensive tackle, among the top prospects who opted out of the 2020 season, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds. That's a highly impressive time for a player who weighed in at 290 pounds. He also posted a vertical jump of 30 inches, a broad jump of 9 feet, 1 inch and 29 reps on the bench press.
Ranking in Daniel Jeremiah's top 50: No. 35
Like Onwuzurike, Tryon opted out of the 2020 season. The edge rusher measured 6-foot-5 and 259 pounds, and paired that size with an impressive 4.64 40-yard dash, according to Nagy. Tryon provided NFL scouts with a complete workout on Tuesday with a 35-inch vertical jump, a broad jump of 9 feet, 8 inches, times of 4.36 in the short shuttle and 7.18 in the three-cone drill, and 22 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press.
"He's got a huge ceiling, just the length, the size, his twitchiness," UW head coach Jimmy Lake told NFL Network reporter Michael Yam, who was on assignment in Seattle, Washington. "The guy can drop in coverage, cover a running back out of the backfield and he can definitely rush the passer. He is not even close to his ceiling."
Ranking in Daniel Jeremiah's top 50: No. 49
After playing just four games in the Huskies' COVID-19-shortened season, Molden declined an invitation to the Senior Bowl and instead looked ahead to his pro day. His workout included a 40-yard dash of 4.58 seconds, a vertical jump of 36.5 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 5 inches, per Yam.
Jeremiah said he views Molden as a Day 1 starter at nickel back.