Pro days are not the be-all, end-all of draft evaluation events, but they are important enough that NFL GMs, scouts and even head coaches travel across the country for more than a month to see as many of them as possible. Adding even more importance to the pro days is the fact that many players decline to participate in certain drills at the Combine so that they can instead execute those physical activities in a more comfortable, familiar and favorable environment.
By all accounts, LT Matt Kalil was a star at USC’s pro day earlier this week. From his career at USC, to the Combine in Indianapolis a few weeks ago, to his pro day this week, Kalil has looked like a solid choice for teams picking near the top of the 1st-round (cough, Vikings, cough).
Another individual hoping to realize a similar fate is WR Justin Blackmon, and he can take a big step toward that goal today because he’ll be working out in front of NFL coaches and scouts at Oklahoma State’s pro day in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Particularly important today in Stillwater will be Blackmon’s performance in the 40-yard dash.
Blackmon is the consensus top WR in this year’s draft, but there’s still some question as to how high he’ll be chosen in the 1st round. It appears that production, route running and character aren’t concerns with Blackmon. The big question with the 6-1, 215-pound receiver is his speed. He appears fast when you watch him on TV or on tape, but today’s gauge will be the stopwatch.
If Blackmon registeres an impressive time in the 40-yard dash – say somewhere in the 4.0 to 4.4 range – he could be projected to go somewhere between #3 and #5 overall, with the Vikings, Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the mix. Maybe even the St. Louis Rams at #2 overall would fall in love with the ultra-productive receiver. If he runs slower than anticipated, though, it’s fair to wonder if Blackmon will fall down some draft boards and become available to teams ranging from the Jacksonville Jaguars at #7 to even further down the board.
NOTE: ESPN’S Josina Anderson reports Blackmon was timed in the 4.45-4.50 range on his first run and in the 4.41-4.46 range on his second.
The Oklahoma State pro day will be interesting to watch, not only because it’s a big day for Blackmon but also because QB Brandon Weeden will be working out as well. Weeden was also a productive player for the Cowboys and he figures to be a 2nd-day prospect. For QB-needy teams who miss out on Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and some of the more intriguing free-agent options, Weeden represents a great potential consolation prize. He has the size and physical ability to be a 1st-round prospect, but his stock may ultimately take a bit of a hit because he’s already 28 years old.
So for those of you counting down the hours until Friday is over and you can head out for the weekend, maybe keeping an eye on the internet for results from Oklahoma State’s pro day will be a good way to pass some time. Other programs conducting their pro days today are: Florida International, Furman, Mississippi, Montana, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Presbyterian, Purdue, TCU, Troy, Washington State.
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