As the National Football League Draft approaches, college pro days are winding down and I honestly couldn’t be happier about this revelation considering what we’ve seen over the last month or so.
If you aren’t aware, pro days are opportunities for prospective pro football players to show NFL coaches, general managers and scouts what they have to offer. Many of the trials the athletes are put through are similar to those faced by their peers at the NFL Combine. Basically, this is one last chance to shine prior to the draft.
These pro days however have taken on a totally different spin this year. Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel recently held his pro day complete with rap music blaring over the loud speakers. In attendance were officials from almost every one of the NFL’s 32 teams and former President George H.W. Bush and his wife.
There’s nothing quite like having music loaded with slang and vulgarity ripping through the A&M indoor facility while a former head of state sits there taking it all in.
Mike Zimmer, new head coach of the Minnesota Vikings called Manziel’s pro day a “side show” and he’s right. The whole thing was completely scripted from the very first throw to the choice of music to Manziel’s camouflage shorts. All this and for what?
Did this suddenly send Manziel’s draft stock surging? Yes, he was very good on this day hitting his receivers with precision passes and great zip on the ball but I’m pretty sure I could have made most of those throws considering there was no defense.
Yesterday, Jadeveon Clowney held his pro day outside in South Carolina’s football stadium and while his environment was certainly different, the amount of eyes on him was staggering. Because Clowney plays a defensive position he is limited in terms of what he can show the coaches and scouts compared to a quarterback.
While we’d all like to see Clowney be able to pound running backs at will on his pro day the same way that QBs can show off their arms it just isn’t feasible. So Clowney went ahead and did his best to show the eyes watching him what he could do in his Under Armor shorts and t-shirt.
I’ve become more and more convinced that NFL Personnel attend these pro days more to watch the body language and attitude of these potential draft picks more than anything. Let’s face it; they’ve already seen more tape on these guys then we possibly could imagine so what else is there to see?
Most teams have already established their draft boards at this point based on what they’ve seen from prospects on game tape and now comes the vetting process. Much like political candidates have their personal histories ripped apart and gone over with a fine-toothed comb, teams are doing the same with potential draft picks.
By the time the draft rolls around each team in the league will have guys on their respective boards listed in a variety of ways and these background checks will have a lot to do with who guys where on draft day.
What I’ve learned over the last month about these pro days is that they really aren’t for the NFL people as much as they are for the media and for the fans. Coaches and scouts can always find a few things to knit-pick at these events but quite frankly they’ve become more like movie premiers than anything else.
As pointless as they are, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.