Six Tech pro day observations

Synjyn Days
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Synjyn Days runs a football drill during NFL Pro Day at Georgia Tech. (AP)
Shaquille Mason

Shaquille Mason prepares to bench press in front of scouts during NFL Pro Day at Georgia Tech. (AP)

1. Shaquille Mason blew it out of the water.

The numbers he put up at the Georgia Tech pro day were among the best posted by an offensive line draft prospect this draft season. Going down the list:

  • 40-yard dash: 4.98 seconds. At the combine, only one lineman ran under 5.0.
  • Vertical jump: 32 inches. It would have tied for fifth at the combine among linemen.
  • Broad jump: 110 inches. It would have been seventh at the combine.
  • 3-cone drill: 7.53 seconds. Would have been fifth.
  • Short shuttle: 4.57 seconds. Would have been sixth.
  • 225-pound bench press: 25 reps. Would have tied for 20th.

A grain of salt: Hand-held times (which is how Mason and the rest of the pro-day participants were timed) are often .1 to .2 seconds faster than electronic times, which is how combine participants were timed. That said, if Mason’s 40 time was .15 seconds faster than an electronic time, he still would have been eighth at the combine.

Also, the jumps and the bench-press scores hold up, obviously. (Mason’s goal for the bench press was 30 reps, but it was done at the end of the workout and he was a bit worn out.)

“I was happy with most of my numbers,” Mason said following his workout. “I could have done more, but it is what it is.”

Mason had the attention of all scouts present as he did his position drills. He had a smaller crowd when he demonstrated both direct and shotgun snaps. He appeared to do fine and earned the approval of former Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who ran him through the workout.

One other thing: Mason reiterated that teams are looking at him as a center, which may help. Guards typically have higher value, but he might rate higher on draft boards as a center than as a guard.

He helped himself.

DeAndre Smelter

DeAndre Smelter sits on the sidelines while recovering from an injury. (AP)

2. Recovering from an ACL tear, wide receiver DeAndre Smelter didn’t perform, but he had at least a couple private conversations with scouts. Smelter has already made the rounds with teams, having attended the draft combine in Indianapolis in February.

“I think it just goes to show how much work I put in, especially into the season, that even with an injury, I’m still getting interest,” he said.

Three months since surgery, Smelter said his rehabilitation is going well.

“I’ve probably got another couple months, but I’m just trying to take it day by day,” he said.

3. Safety Isaiah Johnson’s numbers were solid, comparing well with safeties at the combine, and he looked good (at least to me) in drills, showing good hands. I have to think he’ll get a shot, whether as a late-round pick or as an undrafted free agent. (The website draftinsider rated him as a seventh-round pick.) I noticed Johnson handing out his business card after the workouts, which may or may not help him, but speaks well of him. He said it was “just a little bit to separate myself a little bit.”

Isaiah Johnson

Safety Isaiah Johnson takes part in bench press drill for NFL scouts. (AP)

He’ll also be one of the few draft prospects with a master’s degree. Johnson finished his business degree in his fourth academic year and took advantage of his redshirt year (necessitated by his ACL tear at the end of his junior season) to earn a degree in building construction, receiving
academic All-ACC recognition in the process.

Darren Waller

Darren Waller did take part in catching drills. (AP)

4. Wide receiver Darren Waller took part only in receiving drills, choosing to “stand on” his combine times. (That’s a pro day term.) He looked good, mostly catching the ball well with a slip-up or two. He caught passes from former Connecticut quarterback Chandler Whitmer, who is from
Newnan, Ga., and is training locally for the draft.

Waller said that scouts told him that his route running had improved from the East-West Shrine game to the combine to the pro-day workout.

“They said they thought I looked smooth,” he said.

He received a complimentary review from Gil Brandt at NFL.com, who likely was relying on input from attending scouts. Brandt said that Waller was “showing soft hands and catching the ball very well.” Brandtalso wrote that a number of wide receiver coaches were on hand to see him.

“This is a prospect you’ll want to keep an eye on,” Brandt wrote. “Some NFL team just might get itself a steal.”

Quayshawn Nealy

Linebacker Quayshawn Nealy at pro day. (AP)

5. Linebacker Quayshawn Nealy’s numbers were not exceptional (4.65 in the 40), but fine. He said that he had been projected somewhere to run a 4.8, so he was glad to have bettered that.

His size will be an obstacle, but Nealy’s production, intelligence and versatility will help him. After his position drills, he had a long conversation with a scout from the Bengals, who helped run the drills.

Nealy said the scout told him that there are “a lot of guys over there that like me a lot, like that I’m versatile.”

As for his size (6-foot-1, 235 pounds), Nealy replied, “I would just say look at my game film. You can’t judge me by my height. Take time to look at the game film. A guy that gets after it, no matter how big or tall or athletic and is willing to go the distance with anybody.”

6. Running back Synjyn Days’ workout numbers were OK, not great (4.63 in the 40). He did do well catching the ball out of the backfield. That said, one of Days’ biggest assets is strength at the point of attack, which isn’t something that will show up well in a workout.

Both Laskey and Days have a challenge with scouts, as the A-back and B-back spots are tougher for scouts to project than backs in a more conventional offense (though there aren’t a wealth of pro-style offenses anymore, either.) It doesn’t mean they can’t do it, but there’s just less to go
on. Having played three positions, Days has demonstrated considerable versatility, and has also played special teams, which will help him get a look.

Synjyn Days

Synjyn Days runs a football drill during NFL Pro Day at Georgia Tech. (AP)


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