BBD Editor: Dan Hope
Running back Andre Williams, offensive tackle Matt Patchan and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis were among the Boston College players trying to prove their values to NFL teams during BC’s pro day inside Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass. on Wednesday.
Looking to answer questions about his speed and hands, Williams participated in just the 40-yard dash and positional drills Wednesday. His results in those drills weren’t significantly different than his combine performance, so it is unlikely he either helped or hurt his stock.
Williams’ 40 was hand timed at 4.50 seconds, with a 1.52-second 10-yard split and 2.56 20-yard split. It’s reasonable to believe, however, that the NFL scouts might have timed a few hundredths of a second slower. After his workout, Williams said he was told by scouts that he ran faster Wednesday than his 4.56-second 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine, but when pressed to say what he was told his times were, Williams said he was “not really trying to put them out there.”
As far as catching the ball, Williams had more opportunities to run deep routes and make downfield catches Wednesday than he did in his collegiate career or at the combine, and he actually caught most of the passes thrown his way in his hands. That said, he still had enough drops Wednesday that his hands will continue to be a serious concern for scouts.
Despite his inconsistency catching the ball—and the fact that he did not record a single reception in 2013—Williams believes he can be a three-down back in the NFL.
“I want to be able to be a diverse running back, be able to catch the ball, want to keep the chains moving on third down and make big plays, do what I do best,” Williams said in an interview following Wednesday’s pro day.
BC coach Steve Addazio, who also met with the media Wednesday, acknowledged that Williams needs to improve with catching the ball.
“I think he’d tell you that he needs to develop that,” Addazio said. “Everybody needs to develop things. That’s one of the things that he needs to develop, and he’s working on that. There’s no question in my mind that he will develop that.”
Patchan, who made a name for himself with a 4.97-second 40 at the combine to follow a strong, finally-healthy senior season at BC, did not run another 40 but participated in positional drills, the 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill.
Having also received a late invitation to the Senior Bowl, Patchan has had plenty of opportunities to impress NFL scouts, including a collegiate career that spanned six years between two schools due to injuries and a transfer from Florida.
“I felt like I did everything they wanted me to, and I just had fun,” Patchan said of Wednesday’s pro day.
Pierre-Louis also stood out for his explosive measurables at the combine, including a 4.51-second 40-yard dash, the best among linebackers in Indianapolis. Unsurprisingly, Pierre-Louis decided to stand on his combine numbers rather than go through the full gamut of measurable drills on Wednesday, but he participated in positional drills.
Like Williams, Pierre-Louis’ pro day didn’t look much different than his combine. While his abilities to move both straight and laterally stood out among his competition, he continued to struggle with catching the football in his hands, dropping a number of passes.
“I feel as though as I did well, but just as a competitor, I always feel I can do better,” Pierre-Louis said after his workout.
Pierre-Louis, who was spotted talking to a New York Giants scout at one point Wednesday, said he has individual workouts scheduled with the Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets.
The other 11 participants from Wednesday’s pro day are all long shots to be drafted, but two who performed well enough to turn heads were quarterback Chase Rettig and placekicker Nate Freese.
While it’s never a very good idea to put much stock into how well a quarterback throws to uncovered targets with no pass-rush, Rettig looked better than expected Wednesday. He threw the ball effectively downfield, including on deep balls, with good accuracy and zip. He also showed clean, pro-style footwork.
“I just wanted to show people what I can do,” Rettig said after Wednesday’s workout. “I feel I can throw as good as anyone.”
Freese’s workout should also be put into perspective, as it is much easier to kick field goals from a tee, inside a practice bubble and with no defenders trying to come up with a block, but BC’s all-time leading scorer looked fantastic Wednesday. He consistently drilled his kicks through the middle of the uprights, including multiple attempts from more than 60 yards out.
Freese, who made all 20 of his field goal attempts in his senior season, is one of the draft class’ top options for teams who might look to add a kicker this offseason.
Why should an NFL team draft you?
In post-workout interviews, I asked Williams, Patchan, Pierre-Louis and Rettig to give their sales pitches for why each thinks an NFL team should select them.
Williams: “I feel like I’m a great running back and I can be a great running back at the next level. I run downhill. I’m a power back but I have a unique combination of speed and size, so that just plays to my game. On tape, you see that I finish in the fourth quarter and I really punish the DBs which it keeps the flow of the game moving.”
Patchan: “I’m an energy-giver and quite honestly, I’m a gorgeous dude, you know, so I’d be the face of every poster and magazine they’ve got in their town.” (Perhaps my favorite answer I’ve received to this question all year. Props to Patchan for not taking himself too seriously.)
Pierre-Louis: “I’m a guy who always believes there’s more I can do. I’m never going to be satisfied. I don’t care if for example, I don’t make every play, let’s just say, I’m always going to keep pushing and making sure that I’m striving to get better.”
Rettig: “I feel like I’ve been through the wringer. I’ve been through so many different offenses, a lot of times, quarterbacks come in and there’s procedural issues with getting in and out of the huddle and some lengthy work on play calls and I don’t know, just hopefully teams work me out and they’ll work that out on their own.”
Addazio on his pupils
Addazio on Williams: “He’s a really, really tremendous kid, high, high character. Very, very intelligent guy, BC graduate. Tremendous worker on the field. His ability on the field, he’s a big, strong, fast, powerful runner. I talk about all those characteristics, his durability, his ability to take a punishment this season.
“There’s big backs out there, and there’s fast, small backs; there’s not a lot of big, fast backs. That’s what makes him unique.”
Addazio on Patchan: “I always thought he would be an NFL prospect. When I recruited him out of high school, and through his college career, he had all the attributes to be a first-round draft pick. He had that unbelievable toughness, really great on the field, tremendous athleticism … I thought he was always made to do this.”
Addazio said Williams and Patchan are both examples of guys who “do really well in the combine, but (are) also really good on football when you press play (on their tape).”
The media did not have quite as much access at BC as it did at UConn’s pro day Tuesday, so I was unable to come up with a full list of player measurables and teams represented. That said, I can confirm that the Buffalo Bills had a representative in attendance, while the school confirmed that 29 NFL teams attended Wednesday.