Pro-day timing might be measured with a kernel of suspicion by some in the scouting community. But it's not as if 240-pound linebackers are faking their ways to blazing 40-yard dashes on a daily basis, either.
That's why Penn State LB Micah Parsons' 40 time of 4.39 seconds (some reports had it slightly slower) at Thursday's pro day is nothing to sneeze at. Neither are his eye-opening numbers in the broad jump (126 inches) and 3-cone drill (6.89 seconds).
Parsons weighed in at 246 pounds. Only five players weighing 240 or more have run faster than a 4.41-second 40 at the NFL combine since 2000. We don't have all the data for pro days, but trust us — it's a bonkers time.
The broad-jump number would have places him in the top 10th percentile at the position for linebackers at the combine. The 3-cone ranks in the top 20th percentile.
Parsons' vertical jump (34 inches) was a more middle-of-the-road result, and his bench-press total (19 reps of 225 pounds) is considered pretty disappointing. Even still, this was a big workout for the first-round prospect.
After opting out of the 2020 season, Parsons faced questions about his football development. They're fair, too, considering he was more of a pass rusher in 2018 than a true linebacker prior to breaking out in a more traditional off-the-ball role in 2019.
His athletic traits really haven't been questioned. The issues NFL evaluators want most on Parsons are on how big his learning curve will be in the league and also answering some of the character concerns that have surfaced.
Even so, testing at this level can't go unnoticed and certainly will put to ease any worries about Parsons' commitment level during his gap year. He also earned his undergraduate degree in three years, which deserves praise.
Is Parsons a top-10 pick? It's debatable. But if he's not, we can't expect him to fall too far beyond that outside of some bombshell character reports surfacing.
There was another Nittany Lions pro-day standout
Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh is a classic Rorschach test for scouts: Which matters most, traits or production?
The former tends to win out more over time, which is why Oweh — coming off a zero-sack season — still figures to go relatively high in the 2021 NFL draft.
His performance Thursday was equally as impressive as Parsons' was. The 6-5, 257-pound Oweh was clocked at a scalding 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which puts him on the Vernon Davis spectrum for one of the freakiest pre-draft testers ever.
Throw in Oweh's 21 bench-press reps, 6.83-second 3-cone drill time and jumps of 39.5 (vertical) and 134 inches (broad), and he's an unofficial first-ballot member of the Pro Day Hall of Fame. The bench-press number might not blow your hair back at first glance, but consider Oweh's 34.5-inch arm length and the total instantly becomes vastly more impressive.
"Fast guys get drafted high. Explosive guys go high. He's both," an NFL scouting director told us recently when we asked specifically about Oweh's production not meeting his expected testing numbers. So it's fair not to expect him to slip out of the top 40 overall picks with workout results that might even be slightly better than could have been expected.
Selecting him comes with the knowledge that he had no sacks in seven games in 2020, and only seven sacks in his previous 17 games. His tackle-for-loss numbers help ease that concern some — Oweh logged 6.5 last season — and he had a pair of forced fumbles in a 13-game 2019 campaign.
Still, Oweh was not a consistent producer in college and could need some development. For every Danielle Hunter (4.5 sacks in his final 26 college games), there are dozens of great-testing pass rushers who never panned out fully in the league.
With that level of workout, however, the risk of using a relatively high pick on Oweh likely will feel worthwhile to many clubs.
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