Pro Day represents one final opportunity for players to showcase their talents for NFL scouts. Former Virginia stars lost that chance due to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.
Losing the event hurts more for some Cavaliers than it does for others. For example, Bryce Hall, Jordan Mack and Joe Reed were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February. While Hall and Mack didn’t participate in tests due to injuries, both players were evaluated by doctors and interviewed by NFL personnel.
Players like quarterback Bryce Perkins, who was planning on participating in Pro Day at UVa and Arizona State, missed out on a chance to impress scouts leading up to the draft since he wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine.
“It was gonna be super important,” Perkins said. “Any time you get a chance to get multiple eyes on me at two different settings — one at UVa and one at ASU — it was gonna be huge.”
Instead, Perkins has relied on his film and other online tools to showcase his athletic ability. Whether it’s posting a video of him completing a broad jump turned into a box jump on social media or Facetiming teams, Perkins is doing all he can do stand out in a competitive quarterback draft class.
Bryce Hall, who is still working his way back to 100% after suffering a season-ending leg injury in October, was unsure if he would even participate in drills at the Pro Day, given his health. If he wasn’t at 100%, he wasn’t going to perform any drills. Hall expects to be at 100% by training camp.
There’s little doubt that Hall will be drafted in this year’s NFL Draft, but the cornerback could’ve benefited from the opportunity to perform limited individual workouts with teams to prove that his rehab is going well. Instead, both Hall and Perkins are left to rely almost solely on prior game film to impress NFL executives.
“I think at the end of the day, the film speaks the most,” Hall said. “Right now, I’m allowing that to just kind of speak for itself.”
Hall’s stats and game film impress. Prior to the injury, some mock drafts placed Hall in the first round of the NFL Draft. The cornerback possesses a rare combination of speed and size that makes him an elite prospect.
While Perkins doesn’t have quite the same level of interest from teams, his running ability makes him an enticing quarterback prospect. He finished the season with over 4,000 total yards and 33 total touchdowns.
Despite the production, Perkins wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine or any senior showcase bowl games. Perkins feels a chip on his shoulder to prove that he can succeed at the next level.
“After the combine, I was motivated to train even harder, especially that following week,” Perkins said. “It was like I was training for the Super Bowl.”
Missing Pro Day certainly doesn’t help Perkins, who could have benefited from an additional chance to showcase his talents.
Despite that lost opportunity, Hall, Perkins and Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall think the UVa players missing Pro Day will end up being just fine.
The UVa draft hopefuls have plenty of game film available that showcases what they’re able to achieve on the field.
“While it is another opportunity, and sometimes scouts love to verify and to see one more time or one more interaction, I can’t say there’s going to be irreparable damage done by not being invited to the combine or not being at a Pro Day,” Mendenhall said.
The game film certainly helps prove a prospect’s worth, but the film didn’t save the day for Perkins when the NFL Combine and senior bowls invited participants.
“There’s a certain number of votes a player needs to get to qualify or be invited to the combine,” Mendenhall said. “Bryce was short of that, which did surprise me when you look at the body of work and what he did for our program, so I think the NFL, quite frankly, missed and missed badly in not inviting him, as well as the all-star games. I think they missed, and missed badly.”
In Mendenhall’s mind, his ultra-productive quarterback deserved a spot in the combine and in those showcases. Instead, Perkins missed out on the chance to perform in front of scouts.
Without a Pro Day, Perkins misses out on that opportunity again. With scouts having a month to pour over film, Mendenhall hopes his former signal caller earns a shot at the next level and isn’t overlooked once again.
“How you played gives you your best chance to go on to play in the NFL,” Mendenhall said. “I’m talking about how you played during the season and your body of work through college. There isn’t anything that happens that’s more important than that in terms of your opportunity.”