It is that time of year where NFL prospects take the final public step, the Pro Day. It is the last opportunity that fans and media to see a draft prospect (Although, teams will have private workouts and talks with players before the big day next month). The Pro Day is a seen as the big opportunity to impress. Especially if you are a Quarterback but BEWARE of the Pro Day.
For those that do not know a Pro Day is basically a combine re-do for all the prospects but for some positions they have the chance to script certain things to highlight their skills. For QBs and Wide Receivers they get the chance to work with the players they have spent years working with. They have scripted throws and routes but will also take requests for certain throws at the end, An example of this was Andrew Luck being asked to throw as far as he can before dropping a 70 yard (all air) bomb into the end zone to a receiver. Andrew Luck was a can’t miss prospect, he is a generational talent albeit being wasted by Indianapolis through a bad defense and O-line. However, what other QBs have fantastic pro days? Two big ones spring to mind. JaMarcus Russell and Johnny Manziel.
JaMarcus Russell’s Pro Day was heralded as the greatest Pro Day people had ever seen and we know he has a Ryan Leaf-esque historical bust of a career. He didn’t have the work ethic to succeed and the money that The Raiders ended up having to pay Russell crippled their franchise for a decade and a half (Until Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper and Derek Carr along with some cap clearing by Reggie McKenzie got The Raiders back on their feet). He was a consensus Number 1 pick so you can’t fault The Raiders for taking a QB that was considered the number 1 player in the draft.
Johnny Manziel is the more recent example. He broke new ground in his Pro Day but working out in full pads and helmet to better simulate his game speed. It was a decision that was praised and he was fantastic in his Pro Day. Again considered one of the better Pro Days of the 2012 QB class. Manziel was taken 22nd overall by The Browns. He showed flashes of greatness but was bogged down in personal problems off the field that could have potentially cut his career short, though he is reportedly working on getting back into the NFL with The Saints where he can sit behind Drew Brees.
So the being good at your Pro Day is important? Well you can’t be terrible. You still have to be good but if you are amazing then that means everything? Again no. The Pro Day seemingly is to re-affirm everything you see on Tape and in the Combine workouts but it should make no difference to teams as they have been scouting these players for years. It means nothing in an ultimately year/2 year long process, particularly for a QB, as you always have game tape to rely on but the big problem is assessing the mind of a player and are they really focused on working hard after they have spent almost their entire life being told they are great and gonna go far. It is difficult but you should BEWARE the Pro Day.