The reigning national champion Clemson Tigers held their Pro Day Thursday, drawing representatives of all 32 NFL teams, including head coaches Mike Tomlin, Mike Vrabel and Zac Taylor.
The roughly 100 NFL scouts, coaches and executives were treated not only to a workout featuring multiple first round picks but some Hollywood entertainment on the side, as Clemson’s fearsome fivesome of defensive linemen opted to sport Power Ranger head bands throughout much of the workout, celebrating a final opportunity to compete together.
For much of the past three seasons, Clemson’s dominant front did play like a group of superheroes, earning edge rusher Clelin Ferrell and defensive tackles Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins nearly consensus first round grades. Fellow starting defensive end Austin Bryant and rotational defensive tackle Albert Huggins will also be drafted, making the Tigers’ 2019 defensive line class one of the greatest collections of talent at any one position in NFL draft history.
Unfortunately, scouts were only treated to flashes of this brilliance Thursday.
Lawrence and Wilkins certainly handled their business, with the former wowing with his power and underrated athleticism during position drills and the latter slicing through the bags like a running back. Both players opted to focus on their positional workout after turning heads during the measured drills at the Combine.
Edge rushers Ferrell (toe) and Bryant (pec), on the other hand, were limited due to injuries.
Ferrell had run some of the timed drills at the Combine but he did not perform particularly well in the short shuttle (4.40, tied for 7th among 15 edge rushers tested in this event) and 3-cone drill (7.26 seconds, 11th of 16 tested) and has yet to run a 40-yard dash for scouts. Bryant has not performed any of the drills yet.
Should either or both not be able to perform these drills prior to the draft, their stock could take a tumble.
While it might seem that no reasonable scout would significantly drop a prospect who has produced like Ferrell and Bryant have over their respective careers, it is important to remember that this year’s edge rusher class is a tightly packed group.
It shouldn’t shock anyone if Ferrell, for example, is drafted ahead of Michigan’s Rashan Gary or Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat as he has proven more consistent over his career than either of the Combine’s flashiest performers. If he is unable to work out prior to the draft, however, teams could just as easily drop Ferrell behind Gary and Sweat, as each appear more athletic on tape and therefore may possess a higher upside.
That could be the difference of 10-15 draft selections and millions of dollars.
It could be even worse for Bryant, who upper body injury should not have limited his ability to perform in other drills.
Some might argue that if Ferrell, Bryant (or their representatives) know that they will not turn in an impressive workout, it might be better to let their impressive tape do the talking.
After all, Clemson linebacker Tre Lamar ran the 40-yard dash for scouts Thursday and the results were not pretty.
Lamar ran the 40-yard dash twice and according to the results posted by Scott Keepfer of the Greenville News (and also below).
Lamar was timed at 4.95 and 4.97, which would have placed him 22nd among the 23 linebackers tested at the Combine this year.
The sluggish time – even for a monster-sized linebacker (6-4, 253) – could push Lamar deep into Day Three or out of the draft entirely as teams will be forced to question where he fits in today’s pass-happy NFL.