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2024 NFL Draft: What We Learned from LSU's pro day

LSU's pro day featured at least three possible first-round picks: QB Jayden Daniels and WRs Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr.

Although Thomas worked out at the NFL Scouting Combine, Daniels and Nabers -- who could end up in the top five when it's all said and done -- did not. That ramped up the anticipation for LSU's pro day on Wednesday, with a lot at stake.

Here are four big takeaways from the workouts, which were attended by several NFL heavyweights.

Tune in to NFL Network at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 27 for an LSU Pro Day Special and tune in to NFL+ for live coverage of North Carolina's pro day at 3:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 28. Also, don't miss coverage of Big 12 Pro Day on NFL Network at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 28 and Friday, March 29.

1) Jayden Daniels had a solid workout. Daniels opted not to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine, explaining to the media that he wanted NFL teams to come to him at LSU's pro day so that his teammates -- including Tigers players not invited to the combine -- could have a bigger showcase in front of NFL scouts.

Measuring in at 6-foot-3 5/8 and 210 pounds with 9 3/8-inch hands, Daniels wore a No. 3 shirt during his pro day throwing session in honor of his teammate, Greg Brooks Jr., who was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer during the 2023 season. Brooks has since had the tumor removed and is in recovery.

Daniels didn't run a 40-yard dash or do any of the other athletic testing, opting simply to throw Wednesday in Baton Rouge -- although Daniels did tell NFL Network's Cameron Wolfe afterward that he thinks he could have run faster than LSU receivers Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr., in spite of both registering times in the 4.3-second range during the pre-draft process.

Working with private QB coach Taylor Kelly, who helped Daniels put together his pro-day script, the LSU product completed 52 of his 56 passes. Most of his misfires, plus a few other slightly off-target throws, came on deeper passes and throws outside the numbers. He appeared to get better as the session went on, hitting Nabers on a pretty "go" ball for his final pass.

After joining Nabers in the end zone for a mini celebration following that final connection, Daniels launched a celebratory throw into the rafters. But was it a special performance overall? NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks stopped short of offering that level of praise for Daniels' showing.

"I can't say that it's been an A-plus workout, but it's been solid," Brooks said on NFL+ after Daniels' throwing session. "We've seen the ball hit the ground a few times. If you liked Jayden Daniels coming in, there's nothing that has taken place today that would discourage you from doing that.

"If you had concerns about his frame, his durability based on what he looked like at LSU, you're still going to have those concerns because he's 210 pounds. It really is a matter of being able to imagine what he could be at his best, and can we put an offense around him that would allow him to play to his strengths, while also allowing the team to stick to their identity on offense?"

Daniels' pro day session in and of itself might not have been a game-changer for his outlook, but he was pleased with the results on the whole.

"Consistency, off-platform and in the pocket, that I'm able to get my feet underneath me," Daniels said when asked by Wolfe what he hoped he achieved during the session. "I'm still making throws consistently -- same spiral, same trajectory, the ball is not dying on me, or stuff like that. That's the biggest thing I've been working on."

2) A full agenda for Daniels. As a possible top-five overall pick, Daniels was a popular man Wednesday -- both during and after his workout. He met with teams at the NFL Scouting Combine but waited until after his pro day to hold private team meetings. A lot of those meetings, naturally, were to be held with QB-needy teams -- and mostly with clubs picking in the top half of the 2024 NFL Draft.

After the pro day, Daniels was slated to spend time with the Patriots, Commanders, Giants, Vikings, Broncos and Raiders, according to his agent Ron Butler, via NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

A who's who of NFL decision makers attended LSU's pro day, including six head coaches: the Patriots' Jerod Mayo, the Giants' Brian Daboll, the Raiders' Antonio Pierce, the Bears' Matt Eberflus, the Saints' Dennis Allen and the Commanders' Dan Quinn, according to Wolfe. All 32 NFL teams had at least one representative at the workout.

One month from the draft, the perception is that Daniels is in a race for QB2 honors behind USC's Caleb Williams, jockeying with Michigan's J.J. McCarthy and North Carolina's Drake Maye. It's even possible that quarterbacks are drafted No. 1 through No. 4, which has never happened before; it seems that the battle is as tight as could be at the top.

McCarthy put on a show at Michigan's pro day, which was well-attended by several high-ranking NFL coaches and scouts. It's tough to say that Daniels helped himself as much as McCarthy did, and it's entirely possible that the Commanders will choose between the two of them at No. 2 overall. Maye can change that narrative, as he's set to perform at UNC's pro day on Thursday (you can watch on NFL+).

But even if Daniels' throwing session might not have been enough to push him up closer to the top of the draft, the team meetings hold a lot of weight. These are the sessions where NFL teams really try to drill down on prospects' personalities and character, and Daniels is regarded as being a charismatic leader who might be able to sway teams with his intangibles, along with his strong tape at Arizona State and LSU.

One of those head coaches, Pierce, has known Daniels since his high school days and actually coached him for multiple years while on staff at ASU, with Pierce telling Wolfe that Daniels' "calmness, leadership and extremely high football intelligence" were his best intangible traits.

Now Daniels and the rest of us wait to find out how much those meetings and his pro-day showing will factor into his eventual draft landing spot.

3) Can Malik Nabers vault Marvin Harrison Jr.? The QB debate has been hot for some time -- and now the battle for WR1 honors is seriously heating up.

For some time, public perception has held that Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. is the top wideout in the 2024 draft class, but there are talent evaluators with NFL teams who believe Nabers deserves to be the first one picked.

Neither receiver worked out at the NFL Scouting Combine. But unlike Harrison, who opted not to work out at the Buckeyes' pro day, Nabers put on a show at his.

Nabers measured in at 6-foot 1/4 and 199 pounds, with 31 3/8-inch arms and 9 7/8- inch hands. Those figures are about what were expected. But his workout numbers jumped off the page. In the vertical jump, he registered 42 inches, which would have tied for fifth-best at the combine among all positions -- and it was just half an inch below the top mark in 2024. His broad jump of 10-foot-9 was less awe-inspiring, yet still would have been good for the sixth-best number when compared to combine jumps made by other receivers.

The 40-yard dash was where Nabers left his mark. He ran unofficial times of 4.35 and 4.40 seconds, which should solidify him as the elite athlete most suspected he was. Even still, Nabers thought he ran much faster on his first attempt than the number that scouts settled on.

Nabers had dinner with the Giants on Tuesday night, meeting with the Patriots, Titans, Jets and Jaguars earlier in the day, according to Wolfe. A likely top-10 pick, Nabers was also expected to meet with the Cardinals after his workout.

Could Nabers go before Harrison? It's possible. And if you ask Nabers, he believes that's the way it should be, as the self-proclaimed top receiver in the 2024 class.

"I'm always the one that I'll say I'm the best," Nabers told Wolfe after the workout. "We all got that chip on our shoulder that we're the best. The main thing I came out here [is] to set the record straight, that I'm the best.

"My coaches told me all year it was going to come down to this day to show what I was made of."

Nabers admitted he was antsy to showcase his remarkable skills in front of the NFL. He didn't need to be at LSU's team facility until 8 a.m. but told Wolfe he woke up at 5 and couldn't go back to sleep.

"I was ready to get out here. It was just that feeling that I had that I was going to do something special today," he said. "I let just my energy talk, my heart talk when I was out there on the field."

4) Don't forget about Brian Thomas Jr. Although the other star receiver for the Tigers opted to stand on his strong combine workout numbers, he did go through receiver workouts and caught passes from Daniels.

Even in an unusually deep wide receiver class, the 6-2 7/8, 209-pound Thomas is viewed as a possible top-20 pick.

"He's about as naturally talented as you can find at the position," Brooks said. "Big, fast, physical. Runs great routes. Natural catcher. Does a really good job of watching the ball into his hands. He can shine."

The biggest question, according to Bucky Brooks, is whether Thomas can step outside the shadow of Nabers -- LSU's No. 1 wide receiver during their time together -- and be an alpha dog for an NFL team.

"Can Brian Thomas go from being the No. 2 in college," Brooks said, "to being the No. 1 somewhere else? Or is he a No. 2-to-No. 2 conversation, meaning he goes from being the secondary pass catcher in the (LSU) offense to being the secondary pass catcher in another offense at the NFL level?"

Because he didn't work out fully, Thomas might not have answered that question completely on Wednesday. But there's enough quality work on his resume that it's plausible to think an NFL team will use a first-round pick to find out.

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