Boyd improves 40 at Pitt Pro Day, others get their chance

Tyler Boyd improved on his 40-yard dash time from last month's NFL Combine, while other Panthers had a chance to prove themselves in front of NFL scouts.

Tyler Boyd was disappointed with his performance at the NFL Combine. He even admitted to feeling some nerves when he was in at Lucas Oil Stadium last month, which may have contributed to the 4.58-second 40-yard dash he ran there. 

Pitt's pro day Wednesday afforded Boyd another chance at running the 40 and, while the merits of marginal differences in a straight-line speed test are debatable, the most productive receiver in program history didn't waste it. 

Boyd was clocked by some in the 4.47-second range and around 4.5 by most in front of scouts from 24 NFL teams at the South Side's UPMC Sports Performance Complex Wednesday. While times at pro days are considered unofficial, Boyd achieved his goal.

"I knew I had a 4.4 in me," Boyd said. "I didn’t really like my 40 at the combine so I knew I’d be able to increase it here."

A team will most likely draft Boyd in the second round of next month's NFL Draft, with scouting services comparing the Pitt star to San Diego Chargers wideout Keenan Allen and Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry. Boyd's 40-yard dash time at the Combine shouldn't have done much to change that but, if Wednesday's results are well-accepted, it should cement his status as a second-rounder.

Boyd said he was a bit anxious at the NFL Combine but felt more at ease Wednesday. Short of any technical or physical improvements, the calm of a familiar environment helped Boyd post a better time.

"Just relax and make sure you stay fundamentally sound and stay on point on the little things," Boyd said of improving for Wednesday's dash. "The big thing is to just go up to the line and just relax, be yourself, don’t be anxious."

The NFL Scouting Combine uses an automatic system to measure times drills like the 40-yard dash, and the system is designed to provide the most accuracy of any timing method. Pitt's pro day, like all others, does not have such a system and scouts measure times with stopwatches which greatly increases the margin for error when compared to how players are measured at the combine. Times measured at the Combine are deemed "verified" while all others are "unverified" or unofficial. 

Darryl Render, who also participated in Pitt's pro day, followed Boyd's performance at the Combine. He expressed some displeasure at the stigma associated with Boyd's 40 time in Indianapolis, which indicates slightly below-average speed for a receiver. 

"Running at straight speed in the 40 and running in the game is totally different," Render said. "You’re just running by yourself and in the game you’re running away from people, you’ve got that motivation. That game speed’s going to be different, you know he’s going to do what he’s got to do on the field."

Boyd's only other participation Wednesday was in the body measurements and his positional drills alongside J.P. Holtz, with former Panther Trey Anderson throwing him passes. The Clairton product measured in a 6-foot-1 1/2 and 196 pounds,

"It went pretty good," Boyd said of his pro day. "I think I increased my 40 time, came out here, ran great routes, catch the ball well, so I believe it was a successful day for me."

After he and Lafayette Pitts went through returning drills, Boyd met briefly with a scout from the San Francisco 49ers at the team's facility. However, Boyd will probably have plenty of meetings with many more teams before the Draft begins April 28. 

Realistically, Boyd will be a productive pro and his 40-yard dash time isn't something that should sway a team's decision to draft him or not too heavily. But adding a good time in the drill to complement his actual work is a relief.

“In the field I knew my craft was pretty much legit, was sharp," Boyd said. "But I knew I knew I’d go out there and do a little better."

Nicholas Grigsby: 6-foot-0, 220 pounds, 21 225-pound bench press reps, 36.5-inch vertical jump, 10-foot-4 broad jump

Grigsby benefited the most from Pitt's pro day Wednesday. 

As noted, there are no official measurements on times in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, shuttle run and 60-yard shuttle run. But, he clocked a 40-yard dash below a 4.5 and his pro shuttle in the 4.1 to 4.2 range. Alongside his performance on the bench press and both aerial measurements, Grigsby showed off the athleticism that made him so versatile for Pitt over the last few season. 

If Grigsby performed a 36.5-inch vertical jump at the NFL Combine, it would've ranked as the fourth-best mark among the linebackers at the event last month. 

Lafayette Pitts: 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, 11 reps, 33.5-inch vertical, 10-foot-2 broad

Behind Grigsby, Pitts had the second-best day of anyone who took part in the full pro day workouts. Pitts said he spent the last eight weeks training in Florida and it showed as he posted solid measurements in the leap drills. Moreover, he was told by a few in attendance his 40-yard dash time measured close to 4.40 second. 

"I wanted to get a 4.3," Pitts said. "I really did, but I'm cool with a 4.4."

The defensive back from Woodland Hills sees an opportunity for himself at the next level as a corner but wants to make it clear to NFL front offices he's willing to do whatever it takes to get on the field. He only has to point to his special teams play over the last few seasons as he was on the field for many kick returns, kickoffs, punts, or punt returns during his career at Pitt.

"I love special teams," Pitts said. "No one really likes special teams, but it’s a play you need because it can be a game changer playing on special teams."

Pitts said a few scouts in attendance asked for his information after Wednesday's workout, and he has a visit with the Cleveland Browns at the end of the month. 

J.P. Holtz: 6-foot-3, 238 pounds, 20 reps, 33-inch vertical, 9-foot-4 broad

J.P. Holtz was a bit anxious leading up to Wednesday's Pro Day. Not because he was nervous to play of scouts, but simply because he was tired of waiting around to show what he could do. Without an invite to the NFL Combine, Holtz's football activity was limited to his training in Florida after he played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star game in January.

"It definitely feels good to finally get out here," Holtz said. "I’ve been working for this moment my whole life so it’s a definitely great feeling."

The four-year starter from nearby Montour High was happy with his performance Wednesday, even in the 40-yard dash even though no one told him a time from his heats. 

During his positional work, Holtz went through some tight end drills but also ran through a slate of fullback activities as he's said teams have asked him about playing fullback in the NFL. Holtz is open to the idea as he says he's willing to do whatever he needs to in order to make an NFL team, which he hopes to have taken a step closer to with Wednesday's pro day.

"I wanted to prove I can play," Holtz said. "I feel like I’m a football player and I just wanted to prove [it]."

Khaynin Mosley-Smith: 6-foot-0, 295 pounds, 27 reps, 33-inch vertical, 8-foot-11 broad

Of Pitt's defensive linemen participating in pro day, Mosley-Smith had the better day. He notched 27 reps on the bench press, the highest of the day, and showed his athleticism with some surprising numbers in the vertical leap and broad jump. 

Although he didn't receive a Combine invite, Mosley-Smith knew pro day would provide the opportunity he needed in front of scouts.

"I don’t really look at it as something big," Mosley-Smith said. "A lot of guys may get excited about that but I know the work that can be there can also be done there. So I didn’t worry much, I went in with the same attitude."

Darryl Render: 6-foot-2, 283 pounds, 21 reps, 26.5-inch vertical, 8-foot-1 broad

Pro day for Darryl Render, like every other player at Pitt's pro day save for one, was the only chance he'd have prior to the NFL Draft to prove his merits as a prospect to scouts from pro teams. It's an opportunity for sure, but also one that can create a great deal of pressure. 

"You just want to come out here and perform the best you can," Render said. "Talking to the guys, coming in here and watching this stuff the last four years, you kind of get yourself ready and prepared for it. When you actually get in there, it’s all different."

Still, Render says he was training like a track runner and bodybuilder the last few weeks to prepare for Wednesday instead of a "real" football player. He hopes to get on a field and show what he can do in an actual game-setting, but that may not come until teams extend training camp invites later in the summer. 

The defensive tackle from Cleveland, Ohio said his main goal was to hit 25 reps on the bench but only put up 21. Even still, he thinks he did well with Wednesday's chance.

"I did good," Render said. "Hopefully I got some attention, [for] someone to give me a shot. That’s what I’m looking for."

Artie Rowell: 6-foot-1, 293 pounds, 25 reps, 26-inch vertical, 8-foot-8 broad

Rowell did not speak with the media after Wednesday's workout but, as far as the eye test goes, it seemed like he had a decent pro day. Rowell is a smart player and it seems just about NFL team could use a cerebral interior lineman, for depth if nothing else. 

One would guess Rowell would like to continue playing at the next level, but he has plenty to fall back on if he decides to forgo a professional career. Rowell holds a finance degree from Pitt already and is enrolled in the Katz School's MBA program. If he isn't playing football a decade from now, he may just be a CEO.

David Murphy:  6-foot-2, 223 pounds, 8 reps, 28-inch vertical, 9-foot-1 broad

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