All eyes were on the Georgia Pro Day as everyone wanted to see how embattled but talented NFL draft prospect Jalen Carter performed. With as many as 50 NFL staff members taking in various workouts on March 15, here are the latest pro day news and rumors coming out of Georgia, Minnesota, and Louisiana Tech.
Pro Day News and Rumors: Jalen Carter Struggles While Nolan Smith Shines
Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive line coaches from the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, and the majority of the Atlanta Falcons front office were among some of the onlookers at Georgia’s Pro Day.
Let’s start with defensive tackle Jalen Carter, who I tweeted about early today, mentioning the poor reviews I was hearing from fellow attendees. Carter tipped the scales at 323 pounds, nine pounds heavier than his NFL Scouting Combine weight. Carter did not work out but participated in position drills and looked awful.
Carter was huffing and puffing throughout the workout and looked out of shape. I’m told he was on his knees at the end of the workout — not praying but rather gasping for air. The defensive tackle-needy Detroit Lions, who hold the sixth pick of the draft, were flabbergasted by what they saw.
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This is another incident that will further tip the arrow downward on Carter’s draft stock in what’s been a horrific run-up to the event for a prospect once graded at the top of the class.
Nolan Smith participated in a few position drills after his insane Combine workout. He was held out of bag drills as a precautionary measure, as Smith missed significant playing time last season with a torn pectoral muscle. He looked good in coverage drills, displaying speed and fluidity as he moved around the field.
Robert Beal was another prospect who was coming off a terrific Combine workout, timing 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Today, he ran the short shuttle in 4.42 seconds, the three-cone in 7.2 seconds, and touched 31.5″ in the vertical jump. His vertical was an improvement from Indianapolis.
Beal, who is getting a lot of interest from the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots, was run through defensive line drills. He weighed 247 pounds at the Combine.
John Michael Schmitz Stars at Minnesota
Minnesota’s Pro Day was performed in front of representatives from the entire league, including defensive backs coaches from the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers director of operation Milt Hendrickson, and just about the entire staff of the Minnesota Vikings.
Center John Michael Schmitz, who performed incredibly well during three days of Senior Bowl practice and looked good at the Combine, participated in position drills only.
Schmitz is a big, smooth, and fluid blocker but also tough and smart. He’s the only center available this April who could realistically be selected in the first round, and the likelihood of that happening is becoming more and more real. Schmitz is also the only center in this year’s draft considered an immediate starter.
During my pre-Combine mock draft, I had Schmitz being selected by the New York Giants with the 25th selection, and I can confirm the interest from Big Blue is real. There are several factors for this, but none more so than the fact the franchise made several heavy investments in skill players as well as quarterback Daniel Jones. Yet, at present, they do not have a starting center under contract.
The other center-needy team who really likes Schmitz is the Seattle Seahawks. The franchise has been eyeing Schmitz for the longest time and became enamored with him during the Senior Bowl. Would they pull the trigger on Schmitz with the 20th selection, their second pick in the first round? Ideally, they’d want to trade down, but you never can tell with Seattle.
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The Buffalo Bills are also very high on Schmitz. Present starter Mitch Morse, who’ll be 31 years old next month, is in the second year of the three-year deal he signed last March.
As far as performers, pass rusher Thomas Rush was the star of the day. The senior measured 6’3″, 251 pounds, and timed as fast as 4.58 seconds in the 40, 4.22 in the short shuttle, and 7.04 in the three-cone. His vertical jump came in at 35″ with 10’3″ in the broad. Rush looked terrific in all his drills. The only concern was his arm length, which measured just 31 1/4″. Rush is drawing interest from the Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers.
Shrine Bowl participant Tanner Morgan also had an outstanding day throwing the ball. He was accurate on all his passes and put excellent speed on throws. Morgan was able to drive his deep passes, something of a concern for scouts.
The sixth-year senior performed better than expected during Shrine Bowl practice and was even better during his pro day. Morgan was selected with the eighth pick of the USFL draft by the Michigan Panthers but told me today he has no intentions of playing in a league other than the NFL.
Of a few other notable performances, safety Jordan Howden needs mentioning after he hit 39″ in the vertical jump and timed 6.87 seconds in the three-cone.
Yesterday, almost two dozen teams showed up in Ruston, Louisiana, to watch the Bulldogs work out. On hand was Dallas Cowboys defensive coach Darian Thompson and New Orleans Saints scouting coordinator Will Martinez. The player they were on hand to watch was Louisiana Tech cornerback Myles Brooks.
Brooks, who had several good days of practice during the Shrine Bowl, timed as fast as 4.48 seconds in the 40 and touched 35″ in the vertical jump. The junior who transferred to Louisiana Tech from Stephen F. Austin enters the draft as a junior after totaling three interceptions and nine pass breakups last season. He is drawing interest from the Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.