The only thing worse than the NFL Combine is a pro day.
It’s like the Combine but with home-field advantage. And no defense.
Jameis Winston’s 2015 pro day was rather uneventful and did very little to change his stock as the presumptive No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. That’s good because a pro day shouldn’t do much of anything to anyone’s stock.
Winston completed 92-of-102 passes against air and a few household cleaning items.
A week earlier, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota drew mixed reviews during his workout at the Ducks’ facility.
BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The short answer is nothing.
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Winston is still a big-armed, NFL-ready pocket passer with above average athleticism, a track record for winning games and questionable off-the-field decision-making skills.
Mariota is still a quiet, unassuming, electric athlete with a strong arm but very little experience reading defenses and running a pro-style offense.
We pretty much knew all of this stuff because, get this, we watched them play college football.
The lesson here is that pro days actually mean less than the Combine. At least at the Combine, you have an equal measuring stick for every player from around the nation regardless of exercise or conference or position.
A pro day is a contrived group of drills using teammates and coaches that are extremely well-known in the comfort of a familiar facility against no opposition whatsoever.
I give you JaMarcus Russell and Teddy Bridgewater.
According to NFL Network scouting guru Mike Mayock, Russell produced “the best pro day I’ve ever seen.” Throwing a football 70 yards through some goalposts on one knee is extremely impressive but I have yet to see it happen in a game. But his pro day workout cemented Russell atop the 2007 NFL Draft.
Mayock touted Bridgewater’s pro day as “average at best” with “a lot of flutters and a lot of inaccuracy.” It caused Bridgewater to drop to the last pick of the first round last spring.
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Russell went 7-18 as an NFL starter in three seasons, throwing 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions while completing just 52.1 percent of his passes. That’s epically bad for a No. 1 overall draft pick.
In just 12 career starts, Bridgewater has nearly matched Russell’s career stats and has clearly proven he belongs under center in the NFL. He won six of his 12 starts as a rookie, throwing 14 touchdown passes and completing 64.4 percent of his passes.
Russell was a freakish athlete with a huge arm and tendency to turn the ball over. Bridgewater is a tough leader who helps his teams consistently win games.
But no one needed a pro day to see that. No, all you needed was a TV and some free time on Saturdays.