Every year I try to attend as many pro days out west as my work schedule will allow. I had plans to go to six pro days this year, although with work obligations I could only make it two. If you have never been to a pro day, I highly recommend it. The access to the prospects is amazing and really helps set the mood and excitement for the draft season. Below are some observations from the Utah and BYU pro days. It should be noted most times and measurements I confirmed with the designated APT (Association of Professional Teams) scout or an NFL scout, but not all of them.
Mitch Mathews, WR
Mathews was the top story of the BYU pro day. Intrigue was building before the pro day due to Mathews’s size and his production at BYU. A strong pro day would put Mathews squarely on draft map, and that is exactly what happened. Mathews started the day measuring just below 6-foot-6, 222 pounds, with 10.75-inch hands. He then showed his explosiveness registering 38 inches on the vertical jump and 129 inches on the broad jump. I personally timed Mathews forty passes at 4.46 and 4.43, which the ATP scout (Oakland) confirmed was in the range. Mathews followed all this up with a sub-seven second three cone. On the field displayed solid hands, not dropping any passes in the drills. All these confirms Mathews has a serious combination of size and speed. This athleticism did not always show up on film, but later round flyers do not get much better than this.
Bronson Kaufusi, DE
While Mathews stole the spotlight of the pro day, Kaufusi was the true blue-chip prospect of the pro day. He chose to stand on his solid pro day numbers. In person it is surprising to see a human that looks lean and lanky at 285 pounds. He looked smooth and aggressive performing all the on field drills. His outstanding hands even showed up against the bags. On film Kaufusi’s hands almost make him look slippery because offensive lineman rarely can get inside him and get a grip. I like Kaufusi most as a one-gapping defensive end pass rusher. I do have concerns about his ability to hold the point of attack when two-gapping on run plays. I think his scheme fit will be a large determining factor to his future IDP value.
Devon Blackmon, WR
One benefit of being in attendance at a pro day is getting to see how a prospect carries themselves and how they interact with others. I think I saw a little hint of Blackmon’s character during the adjustment of the vertical pole. Many prospects try stand and reach as small as possible to get any advantage they can. In contrast, Blackmon was stretching and reaching for the sky as if he were a child stretching to be tall enough to ride a roller coaster. Blackmon was also the first on the field warming up. This attitude even showed in field drills, as if Blackmon wanted to challenge himself to the maximum level. He displayed the best hands of any BYU prospect. Blackmon has a chance to make an NFL roster as deep threat with his near 4.3 wheels. Blackmon also displayed some nice feet with some wiggle in the field drills. I could not help but root for him because of the way he worked out and carried himself.
Manoa Pikula, LB
It honestly was a joy to be at the BYU pro day due to the level of hustle, professionalism, and high character of the prospects. Monoa Pikula might have been the pinnacle of this high character. It was obvious how excited and happy he was to be competing. His attitude was infectious and many of the loudest responses from the crowd was because of him. This one the first times I heard the crowd react to a bag pass/draw drill, due his lightning fast feet. He also had a very strong day with a 4.53 forty, 36.5 inch vertical, 24 repetitions on the bench press, and a sub seven second three cone at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds. I’m intrigued enough to keep Pikula in mind in IDP leagues and has some nice upside as a will linebacker.
Devontae Booker, RB
The chance that Booker was going to work out, created a lot of buzz. Unfortunately, he did not work out and is holding a personal pro day in a few weeks. At the pro day he mentioned his knee is about 80-85 percent . I think this brings up concerns about his knee since many close to Utah program thought he would work out at the pro day. I will be anxiously awaiting to hear how his personal work out goes.
Tevin Carter, S
Since Booker was on the sidelines, Tevin Carter was able to grab a lot of the Utah pro day interest. Carter displayed strong athleticism with a 4.51 forty, 34-inch vertical, and a 124-inch broad jump at 218 pounds. Many of the strong safeties at the combine tested slower than expected, so Carter is getting a jump in attention after this performance. On field Carter, was not as fluid with his hip flips as I would like to see in a safety. Although I think Carter will find his place a strong safety or zone nickel backer, so this may not be that big of an issue. Keep an eye on Carter during the draft because his hitting ability may allow him to make an impact in IDP leagues.
Kenneth Scott, WR
Kenneth Scott proved his explosiveness with a 38-inch vertical and 6.6 second three cone during the pro day. This agility also shows up on film when Scott has the ball in the open field making defenders miss. At 6-foot-3 Scott has some nice appeal as a possession slot receiver. He most likely will be pigeon holed to the slot due to his limited long speed illustrated by his ~4.6 forty time. On the field he displayed good hands and did not body catch anything as he did on tape. Scott could be a nice flier if he finds a team in need of a quick, big slot receiver.
Kendal Thompson, QB/WR
The 6-foot-2 quarterback worked as a wide receiver for Utah Pro day. Thompson also worked out as a quarterback at the Oklahoma pro day. He displayed slightly below average times in the measured drills. On the field is where he really shined. He easily had the best pair of mitts at the Utah pro day. He pulled down multiple highlight reel passes from the scatter shot Travis Wilson. Thompson looked raw in his route running, but his strong instincts and natural hands were very apparent. I could see Thompson’s versatility, intelligence, and instincts allow him to stick on an NFL practice squad.
Jason Fanaika, DE
Fanaika stood on most his combine numbers. Unlike the combine, he also participated in all the linebacker drills along with the defensive ends drills. While he did displayed strong jumps, his first step lacks explosion. I think he also lacks the length to play defensive end in the NFL. His best position at the NFL level may be at mike linebacker. His strengths of tackling, discipline, and quick play diagnosing will be better utilized off the ball. His IDP value will strongly be related to how an NFL team uses him and what position they try to put him in.
Jason Whittingham, LB
Jared Norris and Gionni Paul were the linebackers invited to the combine from Utah. Although I was most impressed with Jason Whittingham at the pro day. His pro day was highlighted with 4.60 forty, 35.5-inch vertical, and a 6.87 three cone at 245 pounds. He looked leaner and more agile than during his Utah playing days. During the on field drills Norris did look smoother and more polished. I think there is enough athletic upside here that Whittingham could make a roster as a special team player and rotational linebacker