2017 NFL Draft: Naming winners, losers from Ole Miss pro day
OXFORD, Miss. — Last year, Ole Miss pro day featured a trio of powerhouse names — Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell — along with a slew of notable contributors.
The 2017 edition was certainly lighter on star power, with Evan Engram likely the only prospect who has a shot at becoming a first-round draft pick. But the Manning Center still played host to scouts from 31 different NFL teams on Monday, when 23 former Rebels worked out for the pro scouts in attendance.
The NFL will release the official results on Tuesday. Since we have the unofficial numbers on hand, though, let’s highlight a few performances of note from these Ole Miss standouts.
WINNER: Damore’ea Stringfellow
Ole Miss fans are plenty familiar with the wide receiver’s big-play ability, and after not receiving an NFL combine invitation, Stringfellow took the field at pro day ready to prove the league wrong.
He said he hit his goal of running close to a 4.5 in the 40 — Ole Miss listed his unofficial time as a 4.57 — and cranked out 17 reps on the bench press. A 10-foot-10 mark in the broad jump and a 36-inch vertical rounded out the big-bodied receiver’s impressive day.
“I’ve been training,” Stringfellow said. “I don’t think anybody expected me to run as fast as I did. I came to show out and have fun with it.”
WINNER: Derrick Jones
The wide receiver/defensive back flashed some big-time athleticism, running a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash, posting a 41-inch vertical and registering an 11-foot mark in the broad jump. At 6-foot-2 and 189 pounds, Jones has the size and speed to draw considerable interest as a college free agent once the draft wraps up.
LOSER: Chad Kelly
Obviously, pro day didn’t pan out as Kelly had hoped. He came in expecting to throw somewhere between 35 and 45 scripted plays, but a sprained wrist cut his throwing session short. The star quarterback now expects to throw for scouts at Ole Miss on April 22, less than a week before the draft.
“It’s very frustrating,” Kelly said. “I’ve worked really hard for the past five months to really hone in on this day. We’ve got to move it back to be able to do this stuff. You go through adversity and you get through it. You can only change the future.”
On the bright side, Kelly said his ACL rehab has been going smoothly.
ALREADY A WINNER: Evan Engram
Engram actually didn’t do much at pro day — his NFL combine numbers were that good. But the talented tight end did participate in blocking drills, an area where he impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl, and ran “outside receiver” routes during Kelly’s shortened throwing session as a way to display his versatility. April is shaping up to be a great month for Engram and his family.
“I believe I’m a first-round pick,” Engram said. “If that happens, it’s all in God’s hands. Just what I bring to a table, what I bring to a team on day one, I believe I am.”
LOSER: Tony Conner
Like Kelly, the former 5-star prospect had a lot riding on his pro day performance because the NFL didn’t invite him to Indianapolis. A torn meniscus in his knee forced him to miss most of the 2015 season, and his continued recovery from that injury had him playing at less than 100 percent in 2016. This was Conner’s chance to show teams that he’s healthy, and also remind them of his 5-star talent.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, Conner had hoped to run a 4.4 or a 4.5 in the 40. The safety’s unofficial time of 4.75 obviously fell short of that, and the only other drill in which he tested was the bench press, where he completed 14 reps — an average-to-below-average mark compared to defensive backs at the combine.
WINNER: Jeremy Liggins
Not many people expected Liggins, listed at 6-foot-3 and 315 pounds, to move as well as he did at pro day. The senior offensive tackle ran a 4.92 in the 40, which would have been second-best among all offensive linemen at the combine. Liggins also jumped 31 inches in the vertical, ran a 4.7 in the short shuttle and posted a 9-foot-4 mark in the broad jump.
Oh, and if NFL teams are looking for a quarterback…
— Ole Miss 🏈📼 (@OleMissFBVideo) April 3, 2017