The time between now and the 2014 NFL Draft kicking off on May 8 is the biggest turning point in the lives of hundreds of young men.
A rapidly-falling draft stock in the spring can shrink the income of an NFL hopeful in the first few years of his professional career. College football players who disappointed at the NFL Scouting Combine have slipped in the rankings, but they have a chance to wright the ship during their pro days.
In March and April, the calendar is filled with pro days. After seeing more than 300 draft prospects at the combine in Indianapolis, it’s time for NFL coaches, scouts and general managers to do the traveling and get another look at these players.
Six players in particular are dropping on draft boards—making it imperative for each of them to have strong showings during their pro days.
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Weight: 255 pounds
Anthony Barr moved from running back to outside linebacker two years ago and made UCLA coach Jim Mora look like a genius. Barr registered 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in his junior season. In 2013, he had 10 sacks, 20 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.
Barr was third among linebackers in the 3-cone drill at the NFL Scouting Combine with a time of 6.82 seconds, according to NFL.com. His 4.66-second 40-yard dash was tied for sixth among players at his position. However, he was last among the linebackers who took part in the bench press with 15 reps.
NFL.com draft analyst Mike Mayock wrote that he doesn’t see Barr as a top-10 pick, that he relies too much on his speed. Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com says Barr’s pass-rush moves are limited. Both Mayock and CBSSports.com say Barr needs to improve against the run.
UCLA Pro Day: March 11
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Weight: 322 pounds
Cyrus Kouandjio’s knee has been the subject of more debate than any other draft prospect’s body part.
Kouandjio was the slowest offensive lineman at the NFL Scouting Combine, running the 40-yard dash in 5.59 seconds. His 21 reps in the bench press were less than all but one offensive lineman. Kouandjio’s combine performance alone was enough to hurt his draft stock. To make matters worse, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that he failed several team physicals because of lingering effects from knee surgery on a torn ACL in 2011.
Since then, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, Dr. James Andrews has told every NFL team that Kouandjio has had no setbacks since the surgery. Andrews has been monitoring Kouandjio’s knee. He and Lyle Cain, the Alabama team doctor who performed the surgery, say that his combine showing had nothing to do with his knee, noting that the left tackle has played in every game and taken part in every practice since he was cleared to return in the spring of 2012.
Nawrocki used the terms “overhyped” and “inconsistent” in assessing Kouandjio. He said he would be drafted for his potential rather than what he’s accomplished.
It’s a safe bet that Kouandjio’s knee will be looked at a few more times before draft day.
Alabama Pro Day: March 12
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Weight: 240 pounds
Kelvin Benjamin’s time of 7.33 seconds in the 3-cone drill was the slowest of any receiver at the NFL Scouting Combine. He was among the bottom 10 at his position with a vertical leap of 32.5 inches and his 4.61-second 40-yard dash was nothing to write home about, either.
Meanwhile, Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans were so dominant at the combine that Benjamin was barely even mentioned.
Benjamin led the ACC with 15 receiving touchdowns in 2013 and caught the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left in the BCS Championship Game. However, he “drops too many passes” according to Rob Rang of CBSSports.com. That report also includes the unnerving “boom-or-bust” label.
Unless Benjamin hits a home run at his pro day, he could wait until the second or even the third round to hear his name called.
Florida State Pro Day: March 18
Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Weight: 205 pounds
Jarvis Landry caught 77 passes for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013. He led LSU in all three categories, while teammate Odell Beckham, who is shooting up draft boards, was second in each.
However, Beckham’s draft stock is rising while Landry’s stock falls. Landry was the slowest receiver in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, clocking 4.77 seconds. He also was next to last in the vertical leap at 28.5 inches.
According to Bucky Brooks of NFL.com, Landry is labeled as a possession receiver and tumbled from a projected Day 2 selection to a likely Day 3 selection at Indianapolis.
LSU Pro Day: April 9
Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Weight: 299 pounds
Like FSU teammate Kelvin Benjamin, Timmy Jernigan’s draft stock has taken a hit because another player at his position had a killer combine.
Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald put his name on the map at the combine while Jernigan didn’t do anything to stand out. Jernigan’s 5.06-second 40-yard dash time was tied for 28th among defensive tackles, 23 of whom broke the five-second barrier. Jernigan tied for 14th in his position group with 27 reps in the bench press and did not take part in the 3-cone drill.
Many scouting reports on Jernigan list stamina as a concern, according to the Orlando Sentinel, even after he played 73 of 82 snaps in Florida State’s 31-24 win over Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game.
Jernigan started all 14 games in 2013 and was named second-team All-American, but he had just two career starts before that.
Florida State Pro Day: March 18
Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Weight: 190 pounds
Loucheiz Purifoy’s 4.61-second 40-yard dash was tied for sixth from the bottom among cornerbacks at the Scouting Combine, and his 35.5-inch vertical leap was nothing special, either. His overall combine performance was “dreadful,” according to Bucky Brooks.
Purifoy had just two career interceptions in three seasons at Florida, and according to Nawrocki, he broke up only 12 passes in 2012 and 2013 combined. Nawrocki also says Purifoy is a questionable tackler and Brooks projects him as a mid-round selection. He’ll have to wow the scouts at his pro day to be assured of hearing his name called on Day 2 of the draft.
Florida Pro Day: March 17