The draft process is a long and arduous one, and this year it’s exacerbated by the fact that the draft was moved back to May 8. Every year seems to bring the same cycle of over analysis and overreaction to the combine, pro days, and other minute drills and workouts. This year is no different, as some people have Teddy Bridgewater’s stock plummeting after what some are calling a “disappointing” pro day, and others have Blake Bortles solidified as the top quarterback prospect thanks to a “strong” pro day work out. All of this despite the two players having very similar results from their very different workouts.
Then again, neither quarterback had as solid a showing as David Fales, right?
In reality, we did not learn anything we didn’t already know about Bridgewater and Bortles. Teddy doesn’t really have the elite physical tools, but his strengths are really his decision making and pocket presence. For some reason, he didn’t wear his trademark gloves and it appeared to affect his overall accuracy. Blake Bortles has the size and athleticism, but his arm isn’t the strongest and he needs to work on his deep accuracy.
Pro days are just a part of the draft process, and if anything they might be one of the most misleading parts. Pro day workouts are so structured and rehearsed, and they really only showcase players who have elite physical tools. Jaguar fans will cringe, but here’s a take on how Blaine Gabbert did in his Missouri pro day.
"“He’s my No. 1 quarterback, and to me he’s the one quarterback in the draft who, if you’ve got to bang the table for a franchise quarterback, he’s the guy … The kid confirmed everything you want to see in a franchise quarterback. I thought he did as good as he could have. His footwork was real clean. His arm was real accurate, and his arm strength was great.”– NFL Draft Analyst Mike Mayock"
Gabbert’s biggest strengths were always his strong arm, quick release, and picture perfect size. The questions on him were his ability to handle pressure and decision making. A pro day was a the perfect place to highlight his strengths and hide his weaknesses.
Here’s another example of a top quarterback prospect at his pro day.
"“[Matt] Ryan pressed a bit early on but settled into a groove as the session progressed… Although he lacks elite arm strength, Ryan at least verified to scouts on hand that he’s capable of making all the necessary NFL throws with adequate-to-good velocity… While the workout itself fell short of spectacular, Ryan was good enough to confirm his status as the elite quarterback talent in the 2008 draft class”– ESPN Draft Analyst Todd McShay"
Not exactly, a glowing review, but Matt Ryan seems to have worked out pretty well in Atlanta since being drafted in 2008. McShay was tempered in his response to Ryan’s pro day performance, and he didn’t let his unimpressive workout sway his opinion on a player.
At the end of the day, David Caldwell is going to pick whichever player he thinks is going to improve the Jaguars the most in the long term. That decision will be affected by a lot of things, but pro day workouts will be near the bottom of the list. The most important part of a pro day happens behind the scenes:
These meetings are infinitely more important than what happens on the field. Head coach Gus Bradley and GM David Caldwell are looking for players who fit the attitude and culture of the organization. Come May we’ll find out if one of the quarterbacks is that guy.
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