The University of Louisville Pro Day on March 17 will be a highly anticipated one for NFL teams picking in the first round of the 2014 draft. Potential #1 overall pick Teddy Bridgewater will draw the interest of every team with an immediate starting quarterback need, and safety Calvin Pryor may be on track to not only be the first safety taken in the draft but the first defensive back off the board.
Former University of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater decided not to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine in February but is set to throw for his March 17 Pro Day.
Bridgewater’s Pro Day throwing session won’t hardly be the end-all to convince the Houston Texans or any other team that he is the best and readiest of the quarterbacks heading into the 2014 NFL draft. His interview results and his floor and ceiling on game tape will ultimately be the deciding factors of Bridgewater’s draft future.
But Bridgewater didn’t overwhelm the combine with his drill numbers (third among QBs in the 20-second shuttle, fourth in the broad jump and just eighth with a 30-inch vertical), and his decision not to throw at the combine will put his Pro Day performance under higher scrutiny than if he had thrown at the combine.
The combine didn’t paint safety Calvin Pryor as a freakish athlete (4.58 40-yard dash and 34.5-inch vertical), but his numbers didn’t need to confirm that his long speed and burst are otherworldly.
Pryor has the opportunity to validate his measurables at the Louisville Pro Day, but, like Bridgewater, the game tape will be the determining factor for teams to decide when Pryor is ultimately drafted. The lack of top talent at both the cornerback and safety positions in this year’s draft should make Pryor even more coveted than he might have been in years past.
If teams decide that neither Justin Gilbert nor Darqueze Dennard are top-10 pick quality as shutdown corners, then the case might be made for Pryor to be the first defensive back off the board and even garner top-10 pick consideration himself.
The nation’s second leading sacker in 2013 as a defensive end, Marcus Smith may be overshadowed at the Louisville Pro Day by his higher profiled teammates Bridgewater and Pryor, but many teams with a 3-4 base defense will be at the Pro Day just to see Smith.
Smith posted similar measurables to a pair of project high first-round 3-4 outside linebackers in Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr. Smith scored in between the more athletic Mack and the bigger Barr in the vertical and the broad jump. He also tied Mack with 23 reps in the bench press and ran the 40 in 4.68 seconds (Mack 4.65 and Barr 4.66).
His Pro Day may help validate his meaurables, but Smith’s biggest boost to his draft stock occurred during Senior Bowl week when he converted to outside backer from his down-in-the-dirt end position. Smith showed his aptitude for the conversion well during the Senior Bowl itself and made money, even if the money made wasn’t of the first-round boon.