Greg Dulcich, Channing Tindall, and the Pro Day Heroes
NFL Draft - Would you like your favorite team to draft UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich?
Before you answer: have you seen this video of a shirtless Dulcich, looking like the stripper who dresses up as Thor for bachelorette parties, catching passes at UCLA's pro day?
— Bruin Report Online (@BruinReport) March 15, 2022
Imagine being Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke, dropping a cool $9 million on Evan "Ironhands" Engram, and then seeing that thirstpost scroll across your feed. You'd have immediate regrets, except that Baalke isn't really a "regrets" kind of guy.
And if you don't like Erotic Gladiator Movie Dulcich, there's also Sexy Cool-Jazz Alto Saxaphone Legend Dulcich:
I owned three Greg Dulcich albums on vinyl as a kid. And one on 8-track. pic.twitter.com/PGKmLwX0GA
— Mike Tanier (@MikeTanier) March 2, 2022
If you are hoping for a Dulcich scouting report instead of uncomfortable Dulcich objectification, hop over to the FO 40, specifically the Fantasy (skill position) list. Dulcich just got added, very belatedly (there's a lot on the Walkthrough plate), after adding an excellent pro day to an excellent Senior Bowl and scouting combine. Long story short: Dulcich is a Mike Gesicki type in a deep tight end class that you can also read much more about over at the FO 40.
We're here today to talk about the prospects who had noteworthy pro days last week when most of us had one eye on the Deshaun Watson reality series, one on the rest of free agency, and our third inner eye on our tournament brackets.
As always, Football Outsiders' 2022 NFL draft coverage is presented by Underdog Fantasy.
Scouting Combine II: Georgia Bulldogaloo
The University of Georgia's pro day was the biggest draftnik event of the week. I read lots of "NFL TEAM X's Coaches Attend Georgia's Pro Day" articles from various local outlets, reassuring hometown fans that, yes, your favorite team just might consider drafting one of the dozen-plus early-round prospects from the team that won the 2021 National Championship. Someday, I hope to meet the fan casual enough to fall for content like this ("Hey, my team spoke to Likely First Round Pick Y at the combine: that's HUGE news!") but still invested enough to care about what an NFL team is doing in mid-March. No wait, scratch that: I never want to meet that fan, who would surely earhole me for two hours about their fantasy team while explaining that analytics are for losers.
Linebacker Channing Tindall has been one of the biggest winners of the entire pre-draft process. Georgia was so loaded on defense that Tindall was used as a rotational/situational package defender, cycling between a Mike-like position and the edge the way Georgia linebackers often do. Pure speed is his calling card, and Tindall ran what The Draft Network reports was a blazing 4.05s 20-yard shuttle at the House of Payne this week. That result comes after a 4.47s 40-yard dash in Indianapolis and a positive showing in Mobile. Tindall could be the third Georgia linebacker and seventh or eighth Georgia defender selected in the 2022 draft and still be off the board by the end of the second round.
Not everyone impressed at Georgia's pro day, however. Nakobe Dean did not participate in workouts after also skipping his combine workouts. Dean is planning his own mini-pro day in April. In the meantime, he could slip out of the first round simply because there are only 32 picks to go around and linebacker talent is plentiful in the 2022 draft class. Getting upstaged by teammates at the same position is also a less-than-ideal situation.
Also, cornerback Darion Kendirck's sluggish 40-yard dash did not help his stock in a class that's deep with speedy cornerbacks.
Here are a few other capsules I wrote for Georgia prospects who rank just outside the FO 40 and Fantasy 40, at least as of now:
Quay Walker, LB: Walker didn't work out at the combine, but he put up some excellent numbers in the House of Payne on Wednesday:
At #Georgia's Pro Day, LB Quay Walker ran the shuttle drills:
Short shuttle would've been best at 2022 #NFLCombine among LBs
— Eric Galko (@EricGalko) March 16, 2022
Walker operated mostly as a space linebacker for the Bulldogs, with Dean handling more of the traditional Mike duties and the nation's best defensive line making life easy for them on most snaps. Walker weighed 241 pounds at the combine but looks much leaner on film. He's instinctive, reads and reacts well, changes directions smoothly in the open field, and isn't afraid to stick his nose in the hole. He runs the field well, knows what he is doing in zone coverage and can handle basic man coverage chores.
Walker didn't produce many big plays in his collegiate career, but there weren't many big plays left for him in Georgia games. The "negatives" on his scouting report boil down to the fact that he'll be limited to traditional Will or Mike roles in the NFL (he's not Micah Parsons or an extra safety) and he was surrounded by splashier players. But Walker confirmed his athletic upside at his pro day. He'll be an early Day 2 pick and capable NFL starter.
Zamir White, RB: White is a between-the-tackles grinder in the body of a shifty all-purpose back. He split carries as the "Thunder" back in a Bulldogs backfield with James Cook (lightning) and Kenny McIntosh (third-down guy), hammering out the last few minutes in close games and sometimes icing blowouts with a final big play. Cook is considered the better prospect, but White outran him at the combine (4.40 to 4.42 in the 40-yard dash), finishing fourth among running backs at the combine in speed score.
White is a patient runner who is at his best following pulling linemen. He accelerates suddenly when he sees a crease, can blast through tackles, and finishes his runs with a thud. His open-field moves are limited, but he has a nifty jump cut. White was a team captain and has earned raves for his football character. He'll throw his body around in pass protection.
White tore both ACLs in the past: one as a prep senior in 2017 and the other in a freshman scrimmage at Georgia in 2018. White's max-impact rushing style and lean lower body suggest that he'll always have a high injury risk. He also caught just 17 passes in three seasons as a regular in the Georgia offense
White's scouting report, athletic numbers, and injury history are a real grab bag. He won't be a featured NFL runner unless he turns out to be a better receiver than Kirby Smart's staff thought he could ever be. But the RB3 or RB4 on most depth charts is often a guy who impresses the coaches with hustle and toughness, and that's White. And once a dude with White's size/speed/effort profile makes the depth chart, anything can happen.
Michigan Pro Day: Bad News for David Ojabo
Edge rusher David Ojabo suffered an Achilles tendon injury at Michigan's pro day. It was, by all reports, a scary moment and a significant setback for a player Walkthrough was rooting for after he made such a positive impression at combine interviews.
Now the good news. To echo/amplify Friend of Walkthrough and ESPN analyst Matt Miller: many NFL teams thought of Ojabo as a "redshirt" anyway. He's a native of Scotland who is relatively new to American football and needs a lot of refinement. So Ojabo just went from a player drafted in the teens to one that some already-loaded team grabs in the late 20s. Absolute worst-case scenario: Ojabo went from the Dallas Cowboys' 23th pick (Jerrah loves super-athletic major-program guys) to the Cowboys' 56th pick (Jerrah loves getting big names at an injury discount.)
Michigan's pro day was otherwise uneventful. While Walkthrough and the FO 40 consider Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux the best player in this draft class, most of the NFL world—and most importantly, the Jacksonville Jaguars—appear to prefer Aidan Hutchinson: the Jaguars' bachelor-party spending spree on their offense in free agency makes Hutchinson the -400 favorite at DraftKings to be the first player drafted.
Minnesota Pro Day: Boye Mafe and Daniel Faalele
Like Channing Tindall, Boye Mafe has been a big winner of the whole pre-draft process. Mafe flashed potential on film and recorded seven sacks for the Golden Gophers in 2021, but he looked like an early Day 3 prospect who was a little too easy for top Big 10 tackles to contain. He performed well during Senior Bowl week; dominated the game itself; ran a 4.53s 40-yard dash at the combine; generated a ton of insidery buzz during his contacts with teams; and finally crushed his pro day with a 41.5-inch vertical leap and a 4.20s short shuttle at 257 pounds.
Walkthrough is planning a Mafe interview and feature for the not-too-distant future, so we'll keep things succinct for now: the only reason Mafe might not be a first-round pick is because there's a glut of talent at his position.
On the other side of the ball, tackle Daniel Faalele weighed in at 390 pounds, six pounds heavier than his scouting combine weight of 384 pounds, which already made him the heaviest combine prospect of the 21st century (and therefore probably ever).
University of Texas tackle Mike Williams, the second-heaviest player in combine history (375 pounds, 2002), could not maintain NFL conditioning and ended up as a first-round bust for the Buffalo Bills. Leonard Davis, the third-heaviest player (370 pounds, 2001), had a fine career for the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys, though not a career quite befitting a second overall pick. Jets tackle Mekhi Becton was the most recent 360-plus prospect to be drafted in any round, and Becton a) has struggled to stay healthy in the NFL, and b) was 20 pounds lighter than Faalele at his combine.
In other words, the max threshold for a draftable offensive line prospect hovers in the 350- to 360-pound range, not because offensive linemen cannot be effective at 380-plus pounds (Jason Peters has probably been around 400 pounds since before the Eagles Super Bowl run), but because a collegiate player already carrying that weight is susceptible to injuries, conditioning lapses that leave him too chonk to move effectively, or both.
On film, Faalele looks like a hatchback parked on the end of the Golden Gophers offensive line. Google Maps claims it's a seven-minute walk to get around him. Faalele is quick-footed for his size; otherwise we would not be talking about him at all. His pass-protection sets and technique are technically sound for a right tackle, while his run-blocking technique is basically boulder-rolling-down-a-hillside stuff. He's not nearly as athletic or ornery as Becton was.
At 340 pounds, Faalele would be a typical Day 3 right tackle/guard prospect. At 384 pounds, he was both a high risk/reward prospect and a curiosity. At 390, he's in the process of frightening away NFL scouts who have every reason to wonder how heavy Faalele gets when he doesn't have a specific workout goal to shoot for.
Faalele is so unique that he's worth a Day 3 pick, but many teams are likely taking him off their draft boards.
Central Michigan Pro Day: Kalil Pimpleton Pops
While NFL coaching royalty watched power-program prospects around the nation work out, former New York Giants head coach and current New England Patriots penitent Joe Judge took Central Michigan receiver/returner Kalil Pimpleton out into the snow to field some punts. Christian Booher of Central Michigan Life describes the scene:
In a unique twist, CMU receiver Kalil Pimpleton went outside following his performance in positional drills. He showed off his speed in the 40, clocked at 4.48 by an NFL evaluator. However, after he did agility drills and caught passes, he bounded through the tunnel and out the doors of the Chippewa Champions Center amidst snowy conditions.
Pimpleton did a variety of drills, first by catching punts in a traditional manner. This turned to him starting with his back to the punter and he finished by catching the kicks one-handed. After working briefly on kickoffs, he ended his workout by meeting with Judge and the Patriots.
See for yourself:
— Tyler Driesenga (@tdriesenga3) March 15, 2022
Pimpleton is just 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, but he caught 170 passes in three seasons for the Chippewas and returned two punts for touchdowns against Western Michigan. He also threw 12 passes in his college career, so he could be a fun little gadget specialist. And Judge, for all of his myriad shortcomings as a head coach, is the guy you want obsessing over your punt returner. Pimpleton is worth keeping an eye on in late rounds, for the Patriots or any team that's seeking a return specialist.
Fullback Factories: Carl Markoff and Troy Hairston II
In other news out of Central Michigan, MAC Defensive Player of the Year Troy Hairston II, an edge rusher who recorded eight sacks last season, worked out as a tight end. Hairston started his collegiate career as the Chippewas' equipment manager, then officially made the team as a walk-on, later leading the MAC in sacks and tackles for a loss during the truncated 2020 season.
At 5-foot-11 and 245 pounds, Hairston doesn't fit the NFL mold at edge rusher or tight end, but he's the kind of player who could go from seventh-round pick to 53rd man as a fullback/linebacker/core special teamer. He's also the kind of player who makes covering the draft and scouring pro day news fun.
Fans of fullbacks, walk-ons, and eye-popping pro day videos will also enjoy University of Arizona fullback Carl Markoff benching 38 reps of 225 pounds on Tuesday:
— Arizona Football (@ArizonaFBall) March 15, 2022
Markoff walked on at Washington State, red-shirted, played three seasons in Pullman (?), and then transferred to Arizona. So he's a little older than an ideal prospect should be (frankly, he looks a little like someone I might see at a high school reunion), and he had just 19 career touches. But we aren't dissecting a potential first-round pick here. If you want an ornery cuss for your special teams in the seventh round, Markoff fits the bill.
Small Programs and Sleeper Quarterbacks
Let's wrap up with some whiparound coverage of eye-opening results and analysis from the pro days of programs large, small, and better known for success in other sports.
Kyron Johnson, ER/LB, Kansas
March Madness is a great time to check in what's going on at the University of Kansas. It's a better time to check in than September through November, anyway: the Jayhawks football team has been pathetic for over a decade.
Johnson spent five seasons in hoops heaven/edge rusher purgatory. The Jayhawks often lined up him as a 225ish-pound, hand-in-the-dirt defensive end head up with a right tackle or tight end. For variety, Johnson got to rush the passer from the A-gap as a rover, and he managed to produce 6.5 sacks and four forced fumbles as a super senior in 2021. He then crushed a pro day I didn't even know what was taking place until the great Lance Zierlein tweeted about it:
Going through some of the official pro day workouts LB Kyron Johnson from Kansas CRUSHED IT!
10 split: 1.53
These numbers are unbelievable for his position. I know it's a workout, but it makes you go back and look again.
— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) March 17, 2022
As Zierlein suggested in that tweet, I went back to the film and saw an undersized edge playing out of position without a real pass-rush plan other than hustling and trying super hard. But Johnson earned some positive Senior Bowl reviews and might have looked like a very different player as, say, a Wide 9 at Alabama.
Johnson is the sort of player the Seahawks take a flier on, ideally later in Day 3 (though possibly earlier in their case), thinking they can fix him by teaching him some moves and moving him two steps to his left.
Christian Benford, CB, Villanova
Villanova sports news hits my desk from a variety of sources—scouting outlets, Philly media, neighborhood alums—and impressive pro day numbers are a huge deal for FCS players who feasted on weaker competition.
Benford recorded seven interceptions and led the FCS in pass breakups for the Wildcats. That's all well and good, but a 4.46s 40-yard dash and impressive 3-cone at 6-foot-0 and 208 pounds were even better for Benford's draft stock. NFL teams considering Benford on Day 3 are now certain he exceeds their minimum benchmarks. And Villanova has produced some solid prospects (Tanoh Kpassingon, Ben Ijalana, Brian Westbrook, a fellow named Howie Long) over the decades.
I haven't done any scouting on Benford, but he's a two-time all-conference selection who earned positive Hula Bowl notice. It's best to abandon the pretense that scouting is molecular science in later rounds: Benford's fast and athletic, he was productive, and he has a reputation for being competitive. If teams interview him (they will) and like him, one will draft him.
Cobie Durant, CB, South Carolina State
Durant was the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and earned first team FCS All-America honors. He clocked in at a 4.38s 40-yard dash at the combine, tied for fifth among cornerbacks. Durant also earned positive reviews at the Shrine Bowl, finishing things off with strong pro day results last week.
Durant is undersized at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, but he was usually the best player on the field at his level, and two interceptions against Clemson (one on a tipped screen, one on a bomb, both when the game was well out of hand) suggest that Durant should be able to adapt to the next level.
Kaleb Eleby, QB, Western Michigan
Looking for a quarterback prospect that's about 80% as good as Matt Corral but will be available near the end of Day 3 of the draft? Look no further!
Eleby led a Western Michigan offense so RPO-heavy that it made the 2021 Dolphins look like the Greatest Show on Turf. He displayed quick feet, a quick release, excellent intermediate-range accuracy, and a deft touch on deep passes. It helped that he had Skyy Moore and (in 2020) D'Wayne Eskridge getting open for him. Eleby runs just well enough to escape danger and performed fairly well in most of his performances against better competition (including 337 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Pitt).
Eleby is just 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds, played in just 24 college games, looked rattled for much of his 2021 performance against Michigan, and can't really drive the ball accurately on sideline routes. But he reportedly had a solid showing at his pro day.
Eleby likely maxes out as a backup who gets a shot in an RPO-heavy offense at some point and looks capable enough to bounce around the league for a decade. That's not much, but it's also the realistic ceiling for most of the second-tier quarterbacks in the 2022 class, so Eleby at least deserves mention.
Tune in for the Football Outsiders Draft Livestream on Tuesday at 1 p.m. Eastern. Derrik Klassen and I will host the mighty Thor Nystrom of NBCSportsEDGE this week, and the three of us will be mock drafting for the Green Bay Packers and trying to select our favorite Georgia defensive linemen. And if you missed it, check out last week's show with NFL Media's Chad Reuter, where we mock drafted for the Seattle Seahawks, among other topics. See you on Tuesday!