Maryland football held its annual pro day Wednesday morning, giving 15 players an opportunity to get in front of NFL scouts and impress.
Among that crop, most eyes were on safety Darnell Savage, linebacker Tre Watson and Ty Johnson, each looking to improve their NFL draft stock. Savage didn’t participate in measurement drills after having a great showing at the NFL combine, while Watson and Johnson tried to use to opportunity to prove why they're worthy of a look and potentially a selection.
Savage shot up draft boards at the combine earlier this month, running the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds and turning heads in the process. Similar to DJ Moore at Maryland’s last pro day, Savage would stretch and hang around the periphery of the athletic testing before taking part in individual drills.
“I just did all the field drills, I felt as if I already tested well enough at the combine. I just wanted to come here and be able to be with my team again,” Savage said after the event. “It’s the first time we’ve all been together at the same place in a long time. So just being here is a great experience.”
Johnson ran a blazing 40-yard dash in front of 40 representatives from 29 NFL teams, two arena league teams and a CFL team. His first time clocked in “around the 4.3s and 4.4s,” according to one NFL scout. Although reports of a 4.26 are most likely generous, and the scouts all kept their times to themselves, anything below a 4.40 would be faster than any running back at the combine.
“My first 40, I knew I ran fast, I was like, ‘Someone tell me a time,’” Johnson said. “And I was like ‘Hey,’ to some of the scouts I know personally. I was like, ‘Hey what is it?’ They weren’t trying to tell me.”
Johnson’s second run was also clocked in around the 4.4s, but he later pulled up, experiencing tightness, and shut it down for the day after an impressive showing. The running back came in looking noticeably stronger and proved it by posting 27 bench press reps at 225 pounds and a 34-inch vertical earlier in the morning.
After a slower first run on the 40, Watson said he clocked in the locked in on his second run in the 4.73-4.75 range and ran a 4.14 pro shuttle. Watson was later run through linebacker drills by a New York Giants linebackers coach alongside Jesse Aniebonam and Melvin Keihn. The latter returned to Maryland for pro day after transferring to Richmond last season to pursue a graduate degree.
Watson said he’s been spending his time preparing for these drills, but the All-American’s best asset is still his tape.
“Just [wanted to show them] that I’m a complete football player,” Watson said. “I hope to show that, even though I’m not the freak athlete that a lot of guys want to look at these days, I’m someone who can play the game of football really well. And all the the things I did in the testing and the drills translates in my film. I feel like that was where I put my best foot on the table.
Savage did defensive back drills with cornerback RaVon Davis, who earlier in the day had broad jumped a day-high 10’10. Representatives from the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals led the drills, while graduate assistant and former Maryland quarterback Caleb Rowe delivered the passes. Jets defensive backs coach and former Terp Denard Wilson was also spotted talking to Savage.
“[Wilson’s] a good guy,” Savage said. “You just always try to soak up as much knowledge as you can, when you can, from guys like that. They’ve been around a lot of football.”
None of the trio disclosed just which scouts they’ve heard from, though, each has been in contact with multiple teams. Savage won’t be doing workouts, only visits, and Watson expressed an interest in visiting each of the three teams in his home state of Florida.
The NFL Draft runs from April 25-27.