CLEMSON PRO DAY

Boyd makes good impression at Clemson pro day

Special to The StateMarch 6, 2014 

— Tears tracked down her cheeks. Carla Boyd touched a tissue to each eye and smiled. She doesn’t understand why the critics have been so hard on her son.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd’s performance Thursday for five dozen NFL scouts may require the critics to reconsider.

“I am so proud,” his mother said.

Throwing to three former teammates at the Clemson indoor practice building, Boyd embraced the home field advantage during his last big showcase before the NFL draft. Long and short, rockets and rainbows, Boyd made all the throws during the morning workout which served as an NFL audition for former Clemson players.

Not only did it attract moms and dads, but representatives from every NFL franchise – including three head coaches and a couple general managers – also were present. The star power included former New York Jets receiver Keyshawn Johnson and current Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith and a virtual Mount Rushmore of Clemson luminaries including quarterback Homer Jordan from the 1981 national championship team and Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller.

Many came for one last glimpse of All-America receiver Sammy Watkins, a virtual lock as a first-round draft pick. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network said he’s one of the best receivers in a decade.

It was Boyd, whose draft status took a hit during the season and continued to dive after the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, who needed the big day. Questions about his throwing motion, accuracy, height and ability to read coverage have pushed him from projections as a potential second- or third-round pick to late-round or free-agent candidate. After last month’s NFL Combine, he was ranked 14th among draft-eligible quarterbacks.

The pressure to perform on demand the past two months took a toll, he said. Including workouts, by his estimate Boyd was interviewed by a representative of each team at least twice. The chance to sleep in his own bed and perform in familiar surroundings was a welcome break.

“He came out here, accepted the challenge and passed the test,” Watkins said. Secure with his status as the top receiver in this year’s draft class, Watkins seemed all about helping his former teammate. “We looked like Clemson on game day, and he was definitely on point.”

Boyd completed 66 of 67 passes to Watkins, Martavis Bryant and Rod McDowell.

“We got a chance to spin it today,” Boyd said. “I feel like I answered a lot of questions. I got an opportunity to come out here and show every throw. I felt like I answered every question.”

Mayock still wonders about Boyd’s pocket awareness, when to scramble and when to move forward. Still, as one scout was heard to say, “that was impressive.”

One coach said he wanted to see a more traditional overhand throwing motion, so Boyd delivered. Mayock hasn’t cared for Boyd’s tendency to drop his arm slot even though it was effective in big games against top competition.

Boyd anticipates individual workouts with teams over the next two months. Until then, he’ll keep training.

Though he doesn’t follow the negative chatter, the impact on his family troubles him.

“They’re more concerned about my draft status than I am. If it happens, it happens. Where ever I go, whether it’s the first or the seventh, I’m going to go out there and compete and play for a while.”

Makes a mother proud.

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