MORGANTOWN — For the NFL scouts in attendance, West Virginia’s Pro Day served as confirmation of what anyone following the Mountaineers already knew.
Quarterback Will Grier, wide receiver David Sills and linebacker David Long have a future in this game.
“Those guys impressed,” noted one NFC scout. “But they’ve always been those guys. That’s nothing new.”
Meanwhile, tight end Trevon Wesco is continuing his rapid rise from offensive afterthought to a player no one can ignore.
When Wesco made an adjustment to haul in a 35-yard pass from Grier, an AFC scout noted, “That’s a ‘make money’ play. He just made money.”
Not all the news was good for Mountaineer prospects. After preparing all week with Grier and Sills, receiver Gary Jennings was unable to participate after feeling tightness in his hamstring. But thanks to his showings at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, Jennings isn’t sweating the injury.
“The consensus from scouts is that I’m fine,” Jennings said.
Jennings has already demonstrated his toughness. He said that he practiced “maybe twice” as he battled injuries during West Virginia’s final four games of the season.
Offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste did not participate in any drills, either. Cajuste stuck with his results from the Combine, where he had the fourth-highest number of bench press reps for an offensive lineman with 32.
Grier met with two teams Wednesday night — the Panthers and Redskins — and then the Giants immediately following Thursday’s workout.
As one scout put it to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Grier “put on a show” with his performance on Pro Day.
Grier may not rise to the level of Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, but he’s maintaining a high level of confidence.
“I think you have to be confident that you’re the best to ever do it to play the position,” Grier said. “If you lack confidence in any way, you’re not going to perform the way that you should. I truly believe that.
“I truly believe that I’m the best. That’s the way I wake up every day and think. It’s a motivator. I’m motivated to prove that I’m the best and to back up what I say.”
There were some murmurs of worry when Sills came up gimpy on his final long pattern of the day, but he said it was nothing serious.
“I just tightened up there,” Sills said. “When you’ve got adrenaline and everything going, it can cause your muscles to tighten up a bit. It was just a cramp.”
Sills said the advantage of Pro Day was the ability to demonstrate his strengths as a route-runner.
“The Combine routes are pretty generic, and you don’t get that many reps,” Sills said. “I felt like I could show I could run NFL routes and I could do it at a high level. We didn’t have any balls hit the ground other than when I cramped up on the last one.”
The Saints, who had a league-high nine front office representatives and scouts in attendance, were among the teams with multiple sets of eyes focused on Sills.
In the NFL’s smash-mouth days, Long’s best shot at a career would have come from a move to safety. Fortunately, he’s in the right place at the right time. The defending Big 12 defensive player of the year is entering the league as offenses have caught up to what’s happening in college.
Speed, not size, is becoming the true measure of a modern linebacker. The 5-foot-10, 223-pound Long fits in just fine. In fact, teams have even talked to him about playing inside linebacker.
“I feel like I’ve seen it evolve,” Long said. “I watch college more than the NFL, but when I see it, I feel like the game has changed. There’s a lot of smaller backers that are in there making plays because the game’s changing. Size is not an issue. I can play football.”
Scouts from the Steelers and Rams seemed to agree with that assessment as they spoke to Long after he participated in team drills. He still hasn’t done any timing drills in his pre-draft process due to an ankle sprain he suffered at the Senior Bowl.
“I wanted to do something,” he said. “So I taped it up and did some field drills.”
Wesco worked out as a fullback at the Senior Bowl to show his versatility, but his performance as a pass-catcher on Thursday demonstrated that he can be far more dangerous as a tight end.
“I wanted to show that I can run long-distance routes and run carrying my weight right now,” said Wesco, who weighed in at 269 pounds.
Wesco came into his senior season with two career catches before exploding on the scene with 26 receptions for 366 yards.
He’s also becoming somewhat of a cult figure for draft analysts like NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger as they review his game film.
“I just let my tape do the talking. I’m glad they finally got to see it,” Wesco said. “I hope that sets me apart from everybody else. I like to play smash-mouth football. The dirty work will be spotted on film.
“I didn’t realize how crazy my tape was until I started watching it during this process. I was like ‘Oh, snap.’ I was out there smashing people.”
Scouts from the Eagles and Bengals were among those chatting with Wesco after his drills.