NFL Pro Day News and Rumors: Zach Charbonnet Impresses, Bengals Eyeing Michael Jefferson, and Patriots Targeting Warren McClendon?

NFL pro days continue to move along. Here are the latest news and rumors surrounding prospects like Zach Charbonnet and Warren McClendon.

As we head towards the end of the second week of the 2023 Pro Day Schedule, there has been a lot of news and rumors coming out from the different events. Let’s take a look at the latest NFL draft news and rumors from the UCLA, Georgia, and Louisiana Pro Days over the last couple of days.

UCLA | Zach Charbonnet, Kazemir Allen, and Antonio Mafi Impressed in LA

Wednesday’s UCLA Pro Day workout was attended by 31 teams, including the Steelers, Chargers, Raiders, and Chiefs. It was held in rainy, miserable conditions not conducive to fast times. And as a result, many players ran much slower than expected.

Running back Zach Charbonnet participated in position drills and looked terrific catching the football. He has the potential to be a steal outside the top 60 picks.

Kazmeir Allen, one of the few players not invited to the Combine who may get drafted, completed 17 reps on the bench press and was timed anywhere from 4.53 to 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash. The multi-purpose skill player was run through most wide receiver drills but also completed running back drills. The Chargers also had Allen field punts in the rain.

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Offensive guard Atonio Mafi, another Shrine Bowl participant, also looked good in drills. He was smooth, fluid, and looked athletic. Mafi has impressed with his progress on the offensive line in the past three years after he flipped from the defensive side of the ball just before the shortened 2020 season. There appears to be some interest from the Cowboys, Commanders, Colts, Lions, and Saints.

Defensive back Azizi Hearn stole the show. He timed 4.46 seconds in the 40, 6.92 seconds in the three-cone, and 4.26 seconds in the short shuttle. Hearn hit 37.5″ in the vertical jump and 10’7″ in the broad jump.

Hearn has been on my watch list since his days at Wyoming, yet his game never really developed. Part of the reason is a change in position. After showing flashes at cornerback for Wyoming, UCLA moved him inside to safety in 2022. These pro day testing numbers should mean Hearn gets invited to camp, where he will likely have to stand out on special teams to make it through the summer.

Georgia | Warren McClendon Impressed in Positional Drills

Warren McClendon, who injured his knee late in Georgia’s run to a second national title, did not test at the Combine or yesterday’s pro day. He did do position drills and looked very smooth. Teams believe the 6’4″ offensive lineman can handle the offensive tackle position on Sundays. He presently holds a late third-round grade on my board, and most expectations seem to have him as either a late-Day 2 or early fourth-round pick.

At yesterday’s pro day, McClendon met with Patriots scouting director Camren Williams. He is also drawing interest from the Jets, who are in desperate need of an offensive tackle.

Louisiana | Michael Jefferson and Chris Smith Looked Good

Louisiana’s Pro Day took place on Wednesday, and receiver Michael Jefferson impressed. The senior timed 6.9 seconds in the three-cone, an improvement from the 7.03 he ran at the Combine. He then chose to sit on his remaining marks from Indianapolis.

Jefferson, a Shrine Bowl participant, looked terrific catching the ball, to the point the usually self-critical receiver was even impressed by his workout. He ran good routes and caught everything thrown in his direction. Toward the end of the pro day, the Bengals had Jefferson run routes specific to their offense, which is usually a sign the team is interested in the wideout.

Running back Chris Smith, graded as a late-round prospect entering the season, had a terrific day. Measuring 5’9″ and 194 pounds, he timed the 40 in 4.39 and 4.44 seconds. His short shuttle was 4.44 seconds, and his three-cone was 7.21 seconds. Smith touched 36″ in the vertical jump and 9’10” in the broad jump.

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The talented ball carrier is coming off a disappointing season, rushing for 628 yards and three TDs. His numbers the prior year included 855 yards rushing and eight scores.

Many attribute the falloff in production to the rotational system Louisiana used in the backfield. Smith has an upside that could make him a steal as an undrafted free agent. The Texans and Saints could be potential landing spots.

Pass rusher Andre Jones, who pulled up with a hamstring issue while running the 40 at the Combine, did not work out. He will have his own private pro day on March 29 after the LSU workout, which takes place earlier that morning.

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