A Chance For Former Panthers To Shine

Eleven Players Show Their Stuff At Pitt's Pro Day

Eric Hagman
March 21, 2018 - 9:16 pm
Jordan Whitehead

Eric Hagman

Pittsburgh (93 .7 The Fan) - Snow swirled outside, but indoors at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, the conditions were perfect for Pitt's pro day.  Eleven players participated in position drills and tests of speed, agility and strength on Wednesday.  For some players, it was an opportunity to build on their performances at the scouting combine.  For those that did not receive invitations to Indianapolis earlier this month  it was probably make-or-break in terms of being drafted in April.

Tackle Brian O'Neill certainly caught the attention of scouts and coaches at the combine when he ran the fastest 40 time among the offensive lineman.  He did not run at the pro day, but accomplished what he wanted.

"I think today was real football, that's what we love to do, this was way more fun than the combine," O'Neill said following his workout. "The sole focus for me was coming out and playing ball and playing hard, and that's what I was able to do."

O'Neill believes he moved up the draft board at the combine by showing that he is the most athletic tackle in this year's class.  He was to meet with a New York Giants assistant following Wednesday's workout and said he has a meeting scheduled with Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak later in the week.

As did O'Neill, safety Jordan Whitehead declared for the draft with a year of eligibility remaining.  He was pleased with his performance.

"It's hard to say, but I think I did," said Whitehead when asked if he believes he boosted his stock.  "I felt really good.  I felt like I showed some ability." 

Whitehead did not know his 40 time when he spoke with reporters, but was told--unofficially--it was between 4.4 and 4.5 seconds, which is what he expected.  Whitehead did not run at the combine.   He said he has meetings coming up with some teams he wouldn't identity.  He believes the Steelers have interest in him given the turnover in their secondary. 

Quarterback Max Browne returned from California to participate on a limited basis.  Browne played in only six games before undergoing shoulder surgery in October.

"It's still not full strength, so I showed what I could, no setbacks," said Browne. "I'm hoping for a shot.  I've played a lot of good football in front of a lot of informed eyes, I guess you could say.   I just want to show I'm healthy, progressing and will be ready to go in a little bit."

Browne's career did not follow the path he expected when he signed with USC as a 5-star recruit out of high school.  He transferred to Pitt after losing his starting job to Sam Darnold early in the 2016 season.  Darnold could be the first overall pick in the draft, and Browne admitted he thought that's where his own career was headed as an incoming freshman.

"Yeah, one hundred percent that was the mindset five years ago," Brown said.  "The mindset was to start for three years and get out and get a shot at the NFL, but it's funny how things change."

The other players participating in the pro day were cornerback Avonte Maddox, receivers Jester Weah and Quadree Henderson, offensive lineman Alex Officer, Jaryd Jones-Smith and Brandon Hodges, tight end Matt Flanagan and punter Ryan Winslow.