Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi announced on Wednesday that cornerback Avonte Maddox, wide receiver Jester Weah and punter Ryan Winslow had all been extended invitations to the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine.
The three seniors represent perhaps the best Pitt currently has to offer in each phase of the game, as Weah and Maddox have led the offense and defense, respectively, in multiple statistical categories for several seasons and Winslow was on the watch list for the Ray Guy Award before becoming one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s leading punters.
Weah is probably the most interesting case, as much was expected of him this season after a breakout campaign in 2016. Last year, he posted 24.2 yards per catch, which ranked second in the NCAA, and led the No. 10 offense in the country in receiving, with 36 receptions for 870 yards and 10 touchdowns.
As a result, Lance Zierlein of NFL.com and Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports both included him on their preseason watch lists, praising his “NFL-ready body,” relative speed and big-play ability. However, with season-long instability at quarterback, Weah didn’t quite live up to the hype despite leading Pitt in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and yards per catch again.
Given the statistical drop-off, the excitement around Weah appears to have died down a bit. Charlie Campbell of Walter Football recently evaluated him and noted that he “struggled to get open and produce this season,” ranking him 26th among receivers and pegging him as a fifth- to seventh-round selection.
Still, Weah is not out of opportunities to boost his draft stock. He has accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game and now has a combine invite. Rotoworld noted that “a strong evaluating process could potentially push him into the late Day 2 conversation,” so Weah will be worth keeping an eye on in the new year.
On the other side of the ball, Maddox has been impressive in Pitt’s defensive backfield and has become more versatile over the years. While he’s led the team in both interceptions and passes defended for three straight seasons, he’s also steadily developed in other facets of the game, recording four sacks and a team-best three forced fumbles in 2017.
With that said, the general consensus currently seems to be that Maddox will go undrafted. But like Weah, he’ll have a few chances to change the minds of NFL scouts, as he’s earned invites to both the East-West Shrine Game and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl ahead of the combine.
If Maddox attends the Collegiate Bowl, he could be joined by Winslow, who is currently on the bowl’s watch list. Despite leading the ACC with a career-high 44.5 yards per punt this season and earning a first-team All-ACC selection, the best Winslow will likely do in the draft is a late-round selection if he gets taken at all.
The combine is scheduled to run from Feb. 27 to March 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Winslow will be first to demonstrate his skills with the special teamers on March 2, according to the combine tracker, Weah will take the field with the quarterbacks and receivers on March 3, and Maddox will go last with the defensive backs on March 5.