For the final time, a collection of outgoing Oregon players got to show their talents at the Moshofsky Center in Eugene on Thursday. Each player has worked hard to improve his talents in the facility in their tenure at Oregon now was the time to show off those skills on their home turf in the Mo Center for NFL scouts visiting Eugene. Potential draftees included Kenjon Barner, Kiko Alonso, Nick Cody, and several others who’ve made a difference at Oregon.
Most fans are unable to witness the event in person, as access is limited. However, FishDuck’s crew of fan volunteers went behind the scenes on Thursday to survey the scenery to give fellow fans an idea of the atmosphere. Like any Oregon practice, there is a great deal of physical activity involved that requires lots of prior conditioning to train for these unique events. NFL teams send out scouts to preview the talents of Oregon players; Kansas City thought this was important enough that the Chief’s head coach Andy Reid was in attendance.
Each Pro Day is divided up into drills to showcase overall athletic ability and position specific skills:
The opening drill is the standing long jump. Each player’s ability to long jump while standing in place is measured by a scout. Expectations vary by position and size.
40 YARD DASH:
The second drill ran was to test the speed of each player in the classic 40-yard dash. Barner was timed at a 4.4; Alonso at 4.7; and Jackson Rice at 5.15 (impressive for a punter.)
20 YARD SHUTTLE/SHORT SHUTTLE:
Done to evaluate quickness of draftee’s change of direction ability. The players start in the middle of a 10 yard distance with one hand on the ground, starting by pushing off their dominant leg in the opposite direction for five yards, then reversing for ten, and again in reverse for a timed procedure.
For a total of 60 yards, each player goes side to side from 5 yards, 10 yards, and 15 yards. Again, the procedure is timed. Barner had a very successful long shuttle.
INDIVIDUALIZED POSITION DRILLS:
Following the timed/measured drills, players were then divided up into categorized groups based on their position (i.e. O-Line, running backs, receivers, and special teams.) Scouts from the NFL evaluated each individually.
FORMER PLAYERS ON HAND:
Several well-known Oregon greats were on hand to witness the event at their old stomping grounds. Three of them current or former NFL players; they had to go through the same drills to get to where they are now. Incidentally, two players who went head-to-head in last month’s Super Bowl were both in attendance. One as recent as last year’s pro day, LaMichael James was spotted watching his former teammates (including close friend Kenjon Barner) show the NFL their talent. Baltimore Ravens tight end Ed Dickson was also on hand to witness the event that he trained hard for three years ago.
Another former player who helped bring Oregon out of the cellar in the dark days and into the upper reaches of the Pac-10 was also on hand to witness Pro Day. The great Chris Miller was in the building, one that didn’t exist when he auditioned for the NFL. In Miller’s time as a Duck, so few players went onto the pros that scouts didn’t even come to Eugene. Rather, he had to travel a long distance to be noticed following his departure from Oregon. Miller was involved with the media, as he was doing an interview for NBC Sports/Comcast with coach Mark Helfrich and several prospective draftees.
New graduate assistant coach Nate Costa was also in attendance, throwing to receivers in the receiver drills. Though injuries prevented Costa from playing pro football, the sky is the limit as he begins his coaching career at his alma mater.
It was quite the day inside the Moshofsky Center, hopefully leading to new beginnings for our beloved Ducks.