This year, 11 former Penn State football players will participate in Penn State’s annual pro day. This is where many NFL teams send out general managers, coaches, and their best scouts to observe and evaluate the draft prospects coming out of Happy Valley.
It’s a very controlled session — one in which the players have particular control over what they want to showcase to the NFL brass. As it has now come time for this year’s participants to perform in front of NFL personnel, let’s take a look back at a couple of recent names that have had big days on their pro days to boost their NFL draft stock.
No.1 Christian Hackenberg — QB (2016)
This is an easy one. After last season, Hackenberg was thought to be a mere shell of the freshman phenom he resembled in 2013. Hackenberg had a season for the ages in his freshman year, throwing for 2,955 yards and 20 touchdowns, while only registering 10 interceptions. Hackenberg, however, couldn’t maintain that torrid pace and severely fell off in his sophomore and junior seasons as he thew for only a 54.8 percent completion percentage and put up 28 touchdowns to 21 interceptions. Following his junior season, NFL draft analysts mainly questioned his accuracy. Well, Hackenberg did not help ease people’s concerns over his accuracy issues at the NFL Combine — he noticeably struggled during throwing sessions and consistently overthrew receivers. However, Hackenberg was able to instill some confidence in NFL scouts after his pro day where he wowed with his arm talent. He was able to complete 44 out of 52 throws, while even managing to throw 21 straight completions during the self-designed session. His stellar pro day was a huge reason New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan, who was in attendance that day, drafted Hackenberg in the second round. Although many draft experts originally thought Hackenberg was more of a fourth round prospect, his pro day was ultimately one of the reasons why he was drafted high by the New York Jets.
No. 2 Adrian Amos — DB (2015)
Adrian Amos was really able to impress scouts with his strength and speed at his pro day. Amos was able to do some drills there since he was invited to attend the NFL Combine. He was a top performer in the 20 and 60-yard shuttles.
One event that Amos did not particularly perform well in, however, was the 40 yard dash. He posted a time of 4.56 seconds, which is only average for a defensive back. At Amos’ pro day he really improved his 40 yard dash time and got it down to 4.37 seconds. Additionally, Amos did not do the bench press at the combine, but at his pro day he had a strong showing as he benched 21 reps of 225 lbs. His fantastic pro day put his athleticism on display in front of NFL personnel and helped him get drafted early in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears — a franchise he’s contributed for significantly since turning pro.
No. 3 Allen Robinson — WR (2014)
Perhaps the best pro day though came from one of Penn State’s all-time greatest receivers in Allen Robinson.
Robinson posted subpar results from his initial NFL combine events. He ran a 4.60 second 40 yard dash, 39-inch vertical jump, and a 7.00 second 3-cone drill time. These numbers changed drastically when it came time for his pro day in 2014. He lowered his 40-yard dash time to 4.47 seconds. He upped his vertical leap to 42 inches and improved his 3-cone drill time to 6.53 seconds. These vast improvements stemmed from Robinson’s determination to get leaner before his pro day. He dropped from 220 pounds at the combine to 208 pounds at his pro day. For a player who needed a solid performance to bolster his stock — he showed NFL draft personnel that he indeed did have elite athleticism with his pro day numbers. Robinson ended up being picked in the second round by the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he’s shined ever since arriving there.