GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT/WNCN) — East Carolina University hosted NFL Scouts during its Pro Day Tuesday morning.
Former Pirate quarterback Holton Ahlers saw his stock rise from the last several games of the regular season to the record-setting Birmingham Bowl ahead of Tuesday’s workout in front of the NFL scouts.
“I felt like I threw the ball really good,” Ahlers said. “Obviously I felt like I ran good, but the big thing for me is just throwing high and talking to teams. I feel like I could show that I could do some things that, you know, maybe I didn’t show during the season, or didn’t get the chance to show.”
Ahlers said that he wanted to show the scouts that he could throw the ball deep, and he did just that.
“I feel good about it,” Ahlers said. “I just want to land in a good spot, wherever I am, and make the most of every opportunity…to step onto the field.”
He continued, “I want to make the most of it and show what I can do. I feel like I’ve done that at this point. Job’s not done. You know, you build up to this Pro Day thing [it’s] a huge deal.”
Several other former ECU football players got the chance to showcase their skills, too.
For many of them, it would be their final chance to shine before April’s NFL Draft.
Running back Keaton Mitchell did just that in the ‘L’ drill. Mitchell did not run the 40-yard dash, sticking with his 4.37 from the NFL Combine.
“That’s a dream come true. Just going through the process, just enjoying the moment, trying to have fun with the guys one last time and hopefully we all [are] on [to] the next level together and be able to play with each other. So nice experience,” Mitchell said.
Additionally, wide receiver Isaiah Winstead did run the 40-yard dash and said he felt good about his time. He told WNCT’s Brian Bailey it was in the 4.5 range.
“[I was] very comfortable, you know, and we talked our quarterback you know, we broke records together and all that stuff,” Winstead said. “I was very comfortable with how I came here early. We have run through a script a couple of times before the Pro Day, so we were very comfortable out there.”
Furthermore, big man lineman Noah Henderson had a chance to show off his footwork, too in Pro Day action.
“I feel like I did pretty good…work hard, man, a long way,” Henderson said. “I was just ready to get out here, honestly, just a blessing and eye opener, you know? Not many people get the experiences I’ve had, just taking it all in and, you know, working as hard as I can.”
In addition to those Pirates, wide receiver C.J. Johnson, tight end Ryan Jones, linebackers Chance Bates, Myles Berry and Xavier Smith, offensive lineman Justin Redd, defensive lineman Shaundre Mims and safety Gerard Stringer all participated in East Carolina’s Pro Day.
Ahlers is a large, mobile quarterback that can make plays with his arm and feet. His size alone helps garner yards after contact and is comfortable throwing on the run. Because he’s a runner, he often tries to avoid getting stuck, which can sometimes put him as an injury risk. However, he will also stand in the pocket and take a hit in order to complete a pass, too. But, his scrambling ability in college likely won’t transition well in the NFL due to the uptick in defender speed and work with discipline. If Ahlers can learn to not scramble as much, throw the ball away when needed and make a shorter pass that’s open, his game would elevate.
As of now, Sports Illustrated is predicting Ahlers to go undrafted.
Mitchell nearly rushed for 3,000 yards across the last two years as a Pirate. His speed, when able to break free, eliminates defenders’ angles and dust opponents. His big-play potential should attract NFL teams. However, he is a smaller back that does bounce outside a little too much. In doing so, he sometimes loses pivotal yards. This could also be a problem against blitzes.
NFL.com has him measured out to a 5.87, placing him as an above-average backup.
Winstead was a sixth-year senior who, over the course of his college career, worked best in a spread offense. He also proved to work best when he could build and pick up speed to separate himself from his defender.
However, scouts have reported he has a lot of negatives with his game.
Winstead is said to have questionable hands with an issue with drops, lacks confidence in blocking and doesn’t often run toward the football.