Last year, Patrick Mahomes used Texas Tech’s pro day to really impress scouts with his deep ball and shot up the draft charts. Two years ago it was Jakeem Grant who set an unofficial record with his 40 yard dash time, and parlayed that into a late round selection. All while Deandre Washington displayed his quickness and also got drafted. 2016 was the most draft selections the Red Raiders have had since 2009, and much of that had to do with the tremendous pro days that Washington and Grant had.
Pro days are very important for late round prospects as some of these players didn’t get an opportuinity to impress at the combine so this is their time to shine and teams use this to find diamonds in the rough. As for top athletes like Mahomes, pro days is an even better way to solidify your position atop teams’ draft boards.
Texas Tech will hold their annual pro day Friday at Noon, and will have 10 players participating. Three of them, Dylan Cantrell, Keke Coutee, and Nic Shimonek all had a chance to introduce themselves to scouts at the combine and will use this pro day to ensure their draft status. The other seven will use this opportunity to impress scouts the way Grant and Washington did.
What to watch for
Zach Barnes - Barnes has a long ways to go to get drafted. As of right now, it’s very unlikely he is on anyone’s radar, so he will have to use today to show himself. Barnes will need to showcase his athleticism as an edge rusher, good performances in the agility drills may do enough to get him invited to a rookie camp.
Cameron Batson - Batson is in a similar position Jakeem Grant was in 2016. Though Batson does not have the stats and accolades Grant did, he does have similar speed and agility. Batson will hope to run a 4.3 40 yard dash as this will be put on multiple team’s boards. I expect Batson to showcase his pass catching ability but also his kick catching ability to show himself as a kick and punt returner. If I was him I’d also wear this shirt to let the scouts know.
Though I do not expect Batson to be drafted, I think a great pro day can get him signed as an undrafted free agent. A great pro day like the one Jakeem Grant had in 2016 and you never know.
Dylan Cantrell - Cantrell’s combine workout absolutely wowed everyone there. He was the highest rated wide receiver in terms of an overall athletic score. That alone had the entire stadium buzzing.
As promised, Dylan Cantrell CRUSHED the Combine & had #1 SPARQ score of ALL WRs.This despite them starting clock AT LEAST 0.12 before start pic.twitter.com/GlJBfCsqKC— Erik Burkhardt (@ErikBurkhardt) March 3, 2018
There isn’t much else for Cantrell to prove. He need to come out and prove that the combine wasn’t a fluke and that what he showed there was his actual measurables. His 40 time is the one place where he can improve and become an even greater athletic phenomena. At the combine he ran a 4.58, look for Cantrell to try to get into the 4.4s at the pro day and get drafted somewhere on the third day.
Keke Coutee - Coutee has already shown that he made the right decision to come out early. When he initially announced, many people, including myself, thought he’d have a tough time getting drafted. Now that scouts have acquired tape and seen the young WR through the combine and workouts, he’s impressed to the point that he may even be a second day pick. His route running and pass catching is incredible and at the combine, he really showed this to be true during the receiver drills, more of the same and we could see Coutee get drafted in the third round.
Talor Nunez - Nunez has been battling to keep playing football for a long time, and the pro day will be another day of this. Where Nunez will shine will be in talking to scouts and interviews, his intellect on how to be an offensive lineman will be second to none, however his physical attributes will be tested. If Nunez can prove to be strong and have a high bench press total then he too may get invited to a rookie camp.
Nic Shimonek - To the surprise of some pessimistic Red Raider fans, Shimonek was invited to the combine and did fairly well. Shimonek showed that his deep ball accuracy stats from this past season were not flukes. He went out and threw the ball beautifully down the field. Where Shimonek will look to improve will be his mid accuracy. Having a good repertoire with these receivers will help as he looks to have those passes on target. He also didn’t have the best day athletically, which is a surprise to no one, so he will try to improve on those totals. Look for Shimonek to work his way to a third day pick. With quarterbacks moving up the draft boards early, Shimonek might hear his name sooner rather than later.
Luke Stice - Stice, like Cantrell, will use his athleticism to be drafted. Stice doesn’t have alot of tape to go off of and had limited playing time, however he is an athletic savant. This might propel him to a training camp invite and maybe an UDFA contract.
Justin Stockton - Stockton is another athlete that will need to showcase his athleticism. Out of the seven athletes not invited to the combine Stockton, and Batson, have the best chances of possibly getting drafted. Unfortunately for Stockton, this is a very deep and very good running back class. The best way for Stockton to set himself apart is with a tremendous 40 time in the 4.4s and good work in the agility drills. Look for him to get an UDFA contract after the draft.
Mychealon Thomas - Big Mych is my sleeper of the entire pro day. Right now, Thomas is low on draft boards and is likely just a camp invite however, I believe with his bench press and agility he displays today, he’ll shoot up the charts. As big as Thomas is, he’s one of the most athletic DTs Tech has had in recent memory, though I’m not sure he’ll get drafted I think Thomas can follow the footsteps of Kerry Hyder as someone who is a UDFA and carves out a career.
Derrick Willies - Willies will have a lot of explaining to do during his interviews. Reports of his misconduct will not sit well with NFL scouts. On the field Willies will need to excel in the vertical jump and broad jump. It also won’t hurt for him to be atop the receivers nationwide in the bench press. Willies can make his big size known with a good workout on the field but he will need to assure teams that he will not be a problem on their team. I expect Willies to be a training camp invite.