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Observations from the UCF Knights Pro Day

Zach Goodall



Zach Goodall -

After attending the University of Florida pro day with Chris Thornton of yesterday, I made my way down I-75 and the Florida Turnpike to check out the University of Central Florida pro day, where 70 media members and 31 NFL teams gathered to watch prospects such as Shaquem Griffin, Mike Hughes, Tre’Quan Smith and Jordan Akins.

Who stood out? Did any teams show interest in specific prospects? Here are my interview questions and observations.

Shaquem Griffin, LB/DB, 6-0 3/8, 227

Perhaps one of the most polarizing prospects in NFL Draft history, Griffin drew a big crowd to his drills and his media availability. The versatile defender, who only has one hand, worked out as a defensive back and did not participate in the 40 yard dash after running a 4.38 second 40 at the NFL Combine, ranking first of all linebackers.

His DB drills were up and down. Despite his fluidity moving around and several naturally (considering he only has one hand) impressive catches, he dropped several balls as well. This had to have been expected, considering the circumstances, but you’d figure that would push teams away from the idea of playing him in the secondary.

Griffin performed the vertical jump before the on-field workouts began, recording a 37.5″ vert, which would have ranked sixth among linebackers at the NFL Combine.

I think Griffin’s best positional fit is outside linebacker, where he can play underneath coverage, set the edge against the run, and rush the passer. He certainly provides the athletic versatility and dedication to football to play at multiple defensive positions and find a way to succeed.

Griffin said during media availability that he met with the Jaguars at the NFL Combine as well as at the Senior Bowl, and also mentioned visits with the Titans and the Saints.

Mike Hughes, CB, 5-10 1/8, 189

Hughes, like Griffin and as well as Tre’Quan Smith and Jordan Akins, did not participate in the 40 yard dash or much of the agility drills, but he flashed his speed and fluidity in defensive back drills. He caught nearly every ball that came his way, other than one bad pass, and seemed to impress scouts and Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who was running the drills.

Scouts had their eyes on Hughes during his entire workout, but he refused to acknowledge which teams he is set to meet with. He is widely viewed as a late first/early second round pick.

Tre’Quan Smith, WR, 6-1 3/4, 203

Smith is often viewed as a deep-threat wide receiver who makes flashy plays but is relattively inconsistent in other aspects of his game, but he did his best to put those narratives to sleep today. He had one drop during his workout on a pass that was well behind him, but otherwise was efficient on passes to all three levels of the field.

Jordan Akins, TE, 6-3, 249

Akins was invited to the NFL Combine, but pulled his hamstring in the week prior to the event and did not particpate in drills. At the pro day, he recorded a 10′-2″ broad jump but did not run the 40 yard dash.

The 25 year old tight end had a strong performance in positional drills, running sharp routes, displaying sturdy hands and explosion out of his in-line stance.

It wouldn’t shock me if Akins ends up in the AFC North. Now, team meetings aren’t the be-all and end-all, but it seemed like Steelers tight ends coach James Daniel and Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes were hovering around Akins from the second he walked into the practice facility through the second he walked out. A second Bengals personnel member, presumably a scout, stuck around Akins throughout the pro day as well.

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars on the Locked On Jaguars Podcast and on Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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