If 2018’s Pro Day isn’t the most hyped in UCF history, it at least matches the buzz of the 2013 edition following the program’s win at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl under Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.
After the epic performance from defensive captain Shaquem Griffin at this year’s NFL Combine and wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith and the tight end Jordan Akins getting attention from franchises at the next level, the main storyline for many became defensive back Mike Hughes lifting his own draft stock.
Jordan Akins had a private workout with the Chargers this morning according to a source. Akins and Tre’Quan Smith also worked out for the Lions Monday.
— Shannon Green (@osknights) March 27, 2018
As it turned out, none of the previous players mentioned actually ran the 40-yard dash. However, they all participated in passing drills, shuttle runs, and other such activities throughout the day. Hughes explained this after the workout, “All the scouts say they know I play fast. That’s the main reason why I didn’t want to waste time running the 40 again”.
Griffin hoped to further cement his potential as a dominate piece playing on Sundays. While the biggest story of the Combine in Indianapolis, Griffin felt comfortable he was able to show off his verticle jump and his ability to make breaks should a squad opt to use him as a defensive back. Even with that in mind, NFL teams such as the Tennessee Titans and the New Orleans Saints have mostly inquired about him as a “Will” linebacker. Shaquem said, “A lot of teams want me at Will linebacker to be able to be a guy to have a nose for the ball and still cover”.
He added that he is confident covering guys in space.
.@Shaquemgriffin with a 37.5 vert!
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) March 29, 2018
Smith looked to make a statement of his own of what he hoped to show the scouts from the 32 NFL teams in attendance.
“. . . I know there’s still some rumors out there sayin’ I’m not a great ‘hands catcher’ and I proved that [I am] today,” he said. “I caught almost every ball thrown at me today with my hands”.
Going up and winning one-on-ones without trapping the ball on his body is something that has appeared in prominent scouting reports on the former top UCF wideout.
Akins had himself missed running drills at the NFL Combine due to a pulled hamstring, but told the media that his recovery was “in the 90th percentile” when asked if he was 100 percent. While acknowledging that he hadn’t yet fully healed, he still hoped to show onlookers his speed as an asset on the field.
Other guys worth mention were offensive tackle Aaron Evans and defensive lineman Jamiyus Pittman.
Evans, who participated in his first workouts in the offseason due to a back injury, demonstrated that he is fully recovered and that his quick feet are still a great weapon for him in the trenches. He also mentioned that he has upcoming visits with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers. Pittman has dropped weight below 300 pounds and is currently working to build his speed with Griffin leading up to the draft. Pittman is scheduled to meet with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in mid-April.