For some NFL draft prospects, their pro days are simply a victory lap before they go on to become first-round draft picks. For others, it's the lifeblood of their draft stock.

Pro days offer a prospect an opportunity to work out from the comfort of his home facility. While the combine offers a more sterilized environment and wacky schedules, the pro day can be a better opportunity for someone to put his best foot forward.

This can help the big names. Wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba recently cemented his first-round status and quelled doubts about his straight-line speed with his pro day at Ohio State.

But the opportunity is much more important for prospects who may be flying under the radar. These seven prospects used their pro days to draw attention to themselves and force talent evaluators to go back to the film.


S Nico Bolden, Kent State

Nico Bolden did not receive an NFL combine invite after posting 102 tackles as a senior for the Kent State Golden Flashes in 2022. So he made the most of his pro day by showing he has the kind of athleticism required of an NFL safety.

Bolden showed up at the College Gridiron Showcase at 6'3", 203 pounds and ran a 4.44 40-yard dash, which would have placed second among all the safeties in Indianapolis. He recorded a vertical of 41" and a broad jump of 10'7".

The New Mexico transfer played three seasons before making the move to Kent State, where he became a two-year contributor. In 2021, he had 86 tackles with two interceptions and a sack.

Bolden doesn't have a whole lot of ball production, but that's because he's more of a linebacker/safety hybrid. His best role in the league would likely be as a box safety or dime linebacker.

It's a niche role but one that NFL teams are looking for all the time.

Bolden does not appear on Bleacher Report's post-combine big board. He's fighting just to get on teams' radars after not getting invited to Indianapolis. He had to put up big numbers at his pro day, and that's exactly what he did.


WR Shedrick Jackson, Auburn

Shedrick Jackson did not do much to get himself drafted last season. After finishing second in receiving for Auburn in 2021, he only posted 16 receptions for 217 yards in his final campaign with the Tigers.

It's hard to hold that against him too much. Auburn's offense was a mess in 2022 and a big reason why the team finished just 5-7. The quarterbacks combined to complete just 51.6 percent of their passes and were 119th in passing yards per game.

That provides important context for the lack of production from Jackson.

The receiver, who is the nephew of the legendary Bo Jackson, has the kind of elite athleticism that makes it tempting to overlook some of his flaws on film.

The 6'2", 202-pound Jackson blazed a reported 4.25-second 40-yard dash on Tuesday and followed it up with a 38 ½" vertical and 11'2" broad jump. He has an NFL frame and elite athleticism with a legendary pedigree.

He wasn't invited to the combine, but he may have proved he belonged there with his workout.