(SportsNetwork.com) – If Teddy Bridgewater taught us anything, it’s trust the
tape, at least over a pro day.
The Minnesota Vikings’ starting quarterback looks like he has a real chance to
develop into one of the better signal callers in the NFL over the next few
seasons, something a lot of us thought while watching him play at the
University of Louisville.
And then came his pro day where Bridgewater looked awfully pedestrian while
throwing against air and missing receiver after receiver, especially on the
Add in the Miami native’s “skinny knees” and a weird fascination over his
reliance on gloves and voila, you had a potential No. 1 overall pick tumble
all the way to 32, the spot where the Vikings traded up to land a quarterback
they think will be leading them for the next decade or so.
Despite Bridgewater’s early success after flaming out at his pro day, the
exercise remains very important in the league’s thought process, a strange
dichotomy in an era where analytics are all in the rage in sports.
After all, one day in March is the very epitome of a small sample size and the
aim of any testing, be it your kid’s latest math exam or the drills scouts put
potential prospects through in advance of the NFL Draft, should be about
uncovering a significant difference it actually exists.
And common sense says, larger sample sizes (the tape) increase the chances of
finding something out, whether it’s in the classroom or on the football field.
For this exercise, though, it’s time to take a look at the various pro days
around the country and see if they gave us anything valuable.
We will start in Fort Worth on March 27. The film says Paul Dawson is the best
inside linebacker in this draft but the instinctive TCU star looked anything
but an NFL-level athlete at the scouting combine in Indianapolis back in
You could have timed Dawson with an hour glass in Indy. He registered a
stunningly slow 4.93 seconds in the 40-yard dash and was even worse in the
vertical jump (a key for scouts in measuring explosion), managing just a 28-
inch leap, the worst among all linebackers at the combine and 2 1/2 inches
south of massive, 340-pound nose tackle Danny Shelton of Washington.
Dawson claimed a balky hamstring slowed him down at the combine and he did
improve on his slow 40 times at his pro day, running in the 4.8 range, not
exactly Willie Gault-like but enough of an increase to get him back in the
second round because Dawson is the kind of player who rarely takes a false
step and is virtually never caught up in the trash, turning that 4.8 into a
4.5 or so when translating his gifts to the field.
Next up is State College where Penn State’s Adrian Amos raised some eyebrows
considering the lack of big-time safeties in the draft.
Of all the prospects on the back end, only Alabama’s Landon Collins has a
first-round grade and that will likely cause safety-desperate teams to reach a
bit. When teams start searching for fits they tend to look at raw athletes who
could develop and Amos ran a blazing fast 4.38 and 4.41 at his pro day, making
him the speediest center fielder in the process.
Across the country in Palo Alto, Stanford’s Andrus Peat made his case to be
the first offensive lineman taken in the draft. The athletic tackle looks the
part and at 6-foot-6 has the length and athleticism teams want at the all-
important left tackle position, registering a very impressive standing long
jump at his pro day.
The concerns with Peat are probably not fair in that previously highly-
regarded Stanford O-linemen like Jonathan Martin and David Yankey arrived in
the NFL lacking the functional-football strength to succeed.
Brett Perriman was a pretty good NFL receiver but he never had the jets to
make you look at you stopwatch twice to see if it was working correctly. His
son, Breshad, does.
The younger Perriman looked like an Olympic track star at UCF’s pro day,
recording blazing 40 times of 4.25 and 4.27. And he wasn’t a one-trick pony,
also putting up an impressive 37-inch vertical leap. If Perriman’s father can
teach him the art of route-running, Breshad should be able to pop the top off
any defense rather early in his career.
Edge rushers are supposed to be one of the strengths of this draft but that’s
taken a hit in recent days because of Randy Gregory’s apparent love of the
hippie-lettuce and the lack of pure athleticism coming from Mizzou’s Shane
Ray didn’t do anything other than lift at the combine and needed to perform
well at his pro day in order to secure a top-10 grade. The straight-line speed
was solid, averaging 4.65 in his 40 times but Ray was a tick slow in just
about every agility drill while looking very choppy when dropping into pass