Miami Hurricanes NFL draft prospects set for Pro Day that takes on greater importance this year

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David Furones, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·4 min read
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In the process ahead of the 2021 NFL draft, Pro Days across the country take on greater importance than usual, given that there wasn’t a traditional scouting combine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Miami Hurricanes draft prospects in edge rushers Jaelan Phillips, Gregory Rousseau and Quincy Roche, tight end Brevin Jordan and kicker Jose Borregales, it’s no different. They will go through combine speed, strength, agility and position drills while giving professional teams updated measurements ahead of the draft, which begins on April 29.

UM’s Pro Day is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. on Monday from team facilities and will air on ACC Network.

“Talking to people that work in NFL, they’re dealing with what we’re dealing with in recruiting going through a year-long dead period,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said this past week. “This is uncharted territory for them as well. No combine, no onsite visits. Even the Pro Day’s limited to only three people from each franchise can attend. So, they’re flying blind in a lot of ways like we’re flying blind. Everybody’s got to adapt, and it is what it is.”

Pro Day will be most critical for Rousseau, who will get to flash his ability to NFL teams for the first time since the 2019 season. Already projected as a high-end draft pick from that 15 1/2-sack redshirt freshman season, Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season, like several other top draft prospects did. Training on his own and working to expand his game since August, Rousseau can display the results of that work.

“All you want to see them do is you want to see them compete,” Diaz said. “I mean, these guys, athletically, they’re all off the charts anyway. They all put up great film. They all did great things when they were here at University of Miami.

“You want them to cement that with a great Pro Day that really leaves no doubt. I know the personalities and who they are as people. They would be an asset to any NFL franchise, and it just takes the right fit.”

Rousseau’s opt-out opened the opportunity for Phillips to shine in 2020. After a long journey that included various injuries at UCLA, where he originally signed as a top high school recruit, a momentary retirement from football, transfer to Miami and transformation of his body while sitting out in 2019, Phillips posted 45 tackles, 15 1/2 for loss, eight sacks and an interception last fall.

Phillips skyrocketed up draft boards, and he is even now projected by some to go ahead of Rousseau. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Phillips going to the Miami Dolphins with the No. 18 pick with Rousseau going to the Indianapolis Colts at 21 in his latest mock draft. They are his No. 2 and 3 defensive ends in the draft.

Roche gives the Hurricanes three edge rushers going in the same draft after posting 45 tackles, 14 1/2 for loss, and 4 1/2 sacks in his one season at UM in 2020, following a transfer from Temple. Some in the NFL may view him as an outside linebacker. He measured in at 6 foot 2 7/8, 243 pounds at the Senior Bowl, where he elevated his stock into a possible Day 2 selection (Rounds 2-3) with his play.

After putting up 105 receptions for 1,358 yards and 13 touchdowns over his three seasons at Miami, Jordan is one of the most versatile and complete tight ends in the draft with his blocking prowess and ability to run after the catch.

Borregales became Miami’s first national award winner since 2003 when he took home the Lou Groza Award for the nation’s top college kicker.

In his one season at UM after his transfer from FIU, Borregales made 20 of his 22 field-goal attempts in 2020 — with a long of 57 — plus all 37 of his extra-point attempts.

It won’t be as deep a Pro Day as normal this year because several draft-eligible Hurricanes opted to return to school. Seniors had the option for an extra year of eligibility because the 2020 season occurred during the pandemic, and many took advantage of it.

“It will probably be the smallest Pro Day we’ve ever had,” Diaz said. “I’ll be excited to see them again.”

Defensive tackle Chigozie Nnoruka, who played his redshirt senior season for the Hurricanes in 2019 after playing for UCLA previously, will also participate on Monday.