Wisconsin holds annual pro day

first_imgWhile there weren’t 80,000 fans looking on or NFL experts analyzing a player’s every move, Wednesday’s Pro Timing Day offered NFL Draft hopefuls a chance to strut their stuff in a less stressful environment. More than a dozen scouts were on hand — representing teams such as Indianapolis, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Miami, New England, Detroit, Washington and New Orleans — at the McClain Center to watch 10 or so graduates, including former Badgers Roderick Rogers, John Stocco, Joe Thomas and Mark Zalewski.For Stocco and Thomas, who already participated at the NFL Combine, Wednesday was just another opportunity to showcase their talents.”Just another chance for coaches to come out here and get a little more hands on with you and do the exact drills they want to see,” Thomas said. “I just wanted to go out and take the opportunity to show what kind of football player I am, and it’s just another way to do that.””It’s more exposure,” Stocco said. “I think for me, the more workouts help — the more, the better. Unless you’re a guy like JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn, the rest of us have to go through the Pro Day and the Combine to give teams as much as they can see of you. It only helps us.”But for the other guys who weren’t invited to Indianapolis, Wednesday was their first chance to show the NFL what they can do in ability, strength and skills tests.Zalewski wasn’t in top form for his 40-yard dash time, finishing in the upper 4.6-second range. Since he wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine, Zalewski felt like he had something to prove. He felt that carrying that mindset into his sprint affected his time.”Mentally, I was so amped up, I think it kind of hurt me,” Zalewski said. “My first 40, I think I was coming out, and with my chip on that shoulder a little stiff, and maybe trying a little bit too hard.”While the 40-yard dash didn’t go according to plan, the former Wisconsin middle linebacker was pleased with his performances in the broad jump (9-foot-9), high jump (33 inches) and skills tests.”I think a lot of people don’t really know how well I move,” Zalewski said. “Side-to-side, I heard there was some questions, but I think I did pretty well in the shuttles and agility today. I think the jumps went well … and drills I thought went well too.”On the bench, Zalewski finished inches shy of 20, a number that would have looked impressive to scouts for a 232-pound linebacker. In fact, it would have been the second best performance among all participants, bettering Joe Ainslie, an offensive lineman from Minnesota. Instead, on his 20th rep, Zalewski froze with his arms about nine-tenths extended before giving in. He settled for 19, tying Ainslie and two others for second.”I really wanted 20,” Zalewski said. “I was still breathing and stuff. It was so close.”Overall, however, Zalewski doesn’t believe these tryouts tap into the utmost potential of the athletes participating.”It really doesn’t determine how good you are, have been or are going to be. It tests how fast you can run around three little cones,” Zalewski said. “I think I’m a better player than I can show through these drills. I have a lot of toughness. You can’t really test something like that here.”Injuries hampered Rogers and former UW-Whitewater receiver Derek Stanley. Rogers, who hurt his knee in the Capital One Bowl, didn’t do as well as he would have liked, but he remains confident in his abilities as a player.”[I have] no doubts about what I can do in the NFL,” Rogers said. “I just want to go in there and show what I can do. I got 4.45 on the 40 and 36 (inches) on the vertical. I wanted better, but I’m proud of what I did today.”At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds and coming from a Division-III school, Stanley already was facing two imposing obstacles.”It’s definitely more difficult for me,” Stanley said. “People automatically look at you and say, ‘Hey you went to Whitewater, you’re not playing with the guys you’re trying out with,’ which is true and on top of that I got my size; I’m not the biggest guy in the world. It is an uphill battle, but guys have done it before.”Stanley said he needed an impressive time to perhaps put him in the minds of some of the scouts, but a lingering pain in his hamstring prevented him from recording in his usual 4.3-range. His average time didn’t fare well with the Miami scout.Still, he showcased his route running and ball catching abilities.Outside of Thomas, who is almost a lock for a top five pick in April’s draft, these other athletes hope for the best.”I’ll be happy if any teams take me,” Zalewski said.Stocco understands that it’s not for him to decide what happens. It’s more about performing well and leaving the rest up to the scouts to decide.”I just wanted to come out here and throw the ball as best as I could and show teams what I got, and whatever happens with [the draft] happens,” Stocco said. “I keep an open mind, and I’ve heard a lot of different things so we’ll see. … I just came out and wanted to throw well. Other than that, there’s not much else you can do.”last_img

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