We are midway through the Pro Day schedule and one of the top signal-callers awed scouts for the second time in a month. On Tuesday, all eyes will be on Florida’s Pro Day as the top spot at the safety position could be determined. Here’s this week’s Draft Buzz making the rounds.
1. Though the media was abuzz over the Jared Goff’s Pro Day on Friday, it came as no surprise to NFL decision-makers. Last month, I wrote that Goff killed his Combine workout, accurately making all the throws and looking natural in every aspect of the quarterback position. Combine workouts are significantly more difficult than scripted Pro Day events. The confines of Lucas Oil Stadium are usually foreign to those participating in the workout and the receivers catching passes are complete strangers to the quarterbacks tossing the ball. That’s not to demean Goff’s workout on Friday but his Pro Day performance didn’t change the mind of any NFL decision-maker, rather it affirmed what they already knew - he’s the best quarterback in this year’s draft.
2. None of the highly rated safeties performed well at the Combine and all need good Pro Days to reassert themselves in the conversation as the top player at the position. Florida junior Keanu Neal will try and do as much on Tuesday. Neal’s jumps, including a 38-inch vertical jump and 11-foot broad jump, ranked among the best at the position at the Combine, but his 4.62-second 40-yard dash left much to be desired and is not the stuff of first-round players. Neal is hoping to post under 4.5 seconds at his Pro Day which could push him into the late part of round one as the Pittsburgh Steelers are showing a lot of interest with the 25th pick.
3. The feeling from league insiders is there will be a run on safeties early in the second round with Darian Thompson of Boise State, Vonn Bell of Ohio State, Jeremy Cash of Duke and Karl Joseph of West Virginia all being selected before the 45th pick.
4. One player at the safety position who has made a big leap up boards is Justin Simmons of Boston College. Simmons entered the offseason branded as a terrific football player, but a marginal athlete. He has since convinced scouts otherwise. During the Combine, Simmons 3-cone time (6.58 seconds), 20-yard shuttle (3.85 seconds) and 60-yard shuttle (10.84 seconds) times were not only the fastest of any defensive back in attendance, they were also terrific marks. Last week at his Pro Day, Simmons ran the 40-yard dash in the low 4.5s (4.52) which helps cement him as an early third-day pick or perhaps a very late second-day choice.
5. The names of players receiving an invitation to attend the NFL Draft is always a talking point. One interesting player on the list is Illinois defensive lineman Jihad Ward. I’m also told the aforementioned Keanu Neal is also expected to receive an invitation.
6. Looking for a super sleeper at the receiver position? Remember the name Moritz Wilhelm Boehringer of Aalen, Germany. The 6-4, 225-pound Boehringer totaled 70 catches for 1,461 yards and 16 touchdowns last season playing for the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League. The New York Giants recently signed French receiver Anthony Dable’ from the same league. Boehringer, who reportedly runs the 40-yard dash under 4.4 seconds and has a vertical over 37 inches, will be working out for NFL teams on March 31 during the Florida Atlantic Pro Day.
Tony Pauline has been a draft analyst for more than 25 years, and is president and editor of DraftInsider.net, a site dedicated year-round coverage of the NFL Draft. You can follow on Twitter @TonyPauline