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Roundtable: Helmsman sports staff discusses Pro Day

<p>Riley Ferguson steps up and fires left to a receiver. He threw for nearly 400 yards and six touchdowns in the win.</p>
Riley Ferguson steps up and fires left to a receiver. He threw for nearly 400 yards and six touchdowns in the win.

The University of Memphis Pro Day is scheduled to take place Tuesday at the Murphy Athletic Complex located on the Park Avenue campus, but it is closed to the public. NFL scouts will come to the U of M to watch Tiger players go through drills as they prepare for the NFL Draft. The Daily Helmsman sports staff discussed the event as well as players to follow.

1. Who are you most looking forward to seeing?

Patrick Graziosi: I am looking forward to seeing how well Genard Avery performs. At the NFL combine, Avery’s broad jump, 40-yard dash and three-cone drills showcased his quick burst and explosion. With the NFL moving towards employing more multi-faceted defenders in packages like the big nickel, Avery would be a steal in the 3rd or 4th round of the draft.

Caleb Hilliard: I’m looking forward to seeing how Riley Ferguson will perform in front of a crowd of NFL scouts. It will be interesting to see what drills he goes through and which teammates he will use as receivers for the drills. 

Joshua Vinson: Memphis’ Pro Day will feature a talented bunch of guys, but I’m looking forward to seeing the 5-foot-11, 190-pound wide receiver, Anthony Miller. Athletes like to say the overused cliché “hard work pays off,” but in Miller’s case, it is an accurate statement.

Abigail Warren: Anthony Miller was fun to watch all season. I think it will be fun to see him come out and show off his talent to the scouts. 

Jeremiah Graham: I’m interested to see how Genard Avery does. After an impressive outing at the Senior Bowl and the combine, he has rocketed up draft day boards. A good showing here can further boost his draft stock.

2. Who is best equipped for the pro level?

Graziosi: Miller is ready to step up and perform as a slot wide receiver from day one. He can come down with 50-50 balls, along with his precise route-running, so he is well equipped to be a Jarvis Landry-like security blanket for whatever quarterback who is lucky enough to throw to him.

Hilliard: Ferguson has the tools to be a starter for an NFL team in the 2018-19 season. If he plays next year, he will struggle to keep up with the pace of the NFL, as most rookie quarterbacks do, but he has NFL-level accuracy and arm strength. His stats as a two-year starter are evidence of his potential: 7,955 passing yards and 70 total touchdowns. 

Vinson: Miller’s work ethic is the reason why, of all the Tigers, he is the most pro-ready. He walked on and proved himself and overcame adversity to be the player he is today. His resume speaks for itself, and his commitment to the game is unparalleled.

Warren: Miller has seen a lot of success at Memphis. If he can find a quarterback who trusts him like Ferguson did, I think he will do well at the pro level. Mike Norvell has always spoken highly of him and his work ethic.

Graham:I can see Miller having success as a slot receiver in today’s NFL. To make a comparison, he has Golden Tate’s skill set with Steve Smith’s on-field intensity. His good hands, great body control in traffic and stellar work ethic will translate well to the pros.

3. Who has the most to prove to pro scouts?

Graziosi: Ferguson has a lot to prove to NFL scouts and general managers. His ability for making the big throw is well-known, but his inconsistent accuracy on shorter routes and his long wind-up will need fine-tuning to persuade an NFL team into to take a chance on him in the draft.

Hilliard: Avery had a great career at Memphis, but he still has to show that he can make it at the next level. He is not one of the top defensive prospects in the draft.

Vinson: Miller has a career 238 receptions and 37 touchdowns, totaling more than 3,590 yards, but I think he has the most to prove to scouts only because of his injury. He suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot in the loss to Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl. This may cause scouts to be concerned. Additionally, some teams may struggle to see where he fits in their offense. 

Warren: I think offensive lineman Gabe Kuhn has the most to prove. While he’s been preparing for months, there is so much other talent out there that he may not get as much recognition and attention. With names like Ferguson and Miller, he will have to show out Tuesday to compete with the other talent out there.

Graham: Ferguson will have a lot to prove. Due to Paxton Lynch’s underwhelming play in the pros so far, many critics believe Ferguson is just a system quarterback playing in a pass-happy offense. He will have a chance to prove that he has what it takes to play at the next level. He will be a project, but he has the tools to be an NFL quarterback.

Riley Ferguson steps up and fires left to a receiver. He threw for nearly 400 yards and six touchdowns in the win.

Anthony Miller runs with the ball after a reception. Miller finished the game with 163 yards and two touchdowns. 

Genard Avery (6) returns an interception 28 yards for a touchdown. In addition to the interception, Avery finished with four total tackles in the Tigers’ 77-3 rout of Bowling Green.

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