It’s rare to see an NFL head coach at Pro Day.
But at the McClain Center yesterday, both head coaches from Super Bowl XLV were in attendance to watch the UW Pro Day workouts.
Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy observed the drills alongside general manager Ted Thompson while Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin looked on as well.
“I think we have a pretty good class that came out this year,” offensive tackle Gabe Carimi said. “There is a lot of potential.”
McCarthy and Tomlin represent just a couple NFL teams carefully analyzing that potential.
Hordes of NFL scouts flew into Madison to watch the former Badgers participate in the Pro Day. That list of players included J.J. Watt, Gabe Carimi, Lance Kendricks, John Moffitt, John Clay and Scott Tolzien, who took part in only a couple drills each after performing at the NFL combine. Isaac Anderson, David Gilreath, Kyle Jefferson, Blake Sorensen, Bill Nagy, Culmer St. Jean and Jay Valai were also participants looking to impress scouts.
Clay back in his comfort zone
The most hyped event at the UW Pro Day was Clay’s 40-yard dash.
After running a 4.84 and 4.77 at the NFL combine, scouts wanted to see an improvement at Clay’s Pro Day.
Clay told reporters his time was in the “4.6 range” but others had him clocked in the low to mid 4.7 range. Regardless of each particular scout’s time, the 233-pound Clay seemed happy with his performance.
“I needed to show people I could put up better times,” Clay said. “Being able to come here and be relaxed, where I’m comfortable, with my teammates out here felt real good. It was much better.”
Clay said he has no interest in a position switch to fullback and reiterated his desire to become a three-down tailback for an NFL franchise.
Bench, vertical jump draws crowd
The 225-pound bench press always attracts viewers, and Culmer St. Jean earned some applause with his performance. The UW linebacker injured his leg during his 40-yard dash attempt, but that didn’t stop him from putting up 30 reps.
Jay Valai later showed off his strength with 21 reps.
The skill players showed off their leaping ability to during the vertical jump, but it was offensive lineman Bill Nagy who stole the show. Nagy displayed impressive burst and turned some heads with his leap.
Bears well represented
Chicago Bears’ offensive coordinator Mike Martz and offensive line coach Mike Tice worked extensively with several UW prospects yesterday.
Martz watched Tolzien closely and put the quarterback through a number of drills. Tolzien went through a variety of drops and looked sharp during the throwing portion of his workout. Scouts clearly wanted to see Tolzien throw plenty of deep balls and out routes to test his arm strength, and he responded with good zip on the majority of his throws.
Tice, as well as Steelers’ offensive line coach Sean Kugler, took Carimi, Moffitt and Nagy aside to get a closer look during some cone drills. Kugler later asked Moffitt to take some snaps at center – a position Moffitt played prior to his switch to left guard.
Tice is particularly familiar with the Wisconsin program. His son Nate is currently a walk on quarterback at UW.
All in the family
Several former Badgers stopped by to watch the prospects perform, and at times the McClain Center appeared to be hosting a UW football family reunion. Jim Leonhard, Brian Calhoun, Chris Maragos, Joe Panos, DeAndre Levy and Kirk DeCremer were all in attendance. Athletic Director Barry Alvarez watched alongside the UW coaching staff, and tons of current Badgers constantly stopped in to observe and show their support.
Watt out to prove doubters wrong
J.J. Watt only participated in agility drills at his Pro Day thanks to his stellar NFL combine performance. Watt finished in the top five for every D-line drill at the combine, including an impressive 4.76 40-yard dash time for a 290-pound lineman.
“Hopefully we quieted some of the doubters who doubted my athletic ability,” Watt said. “I’m very proud of how hard I work, but at the same time that doesn’t discount any amount of talent or athleticism that I have. Just because I’m a big Wisconsin kid doesn’t mean I’m not athletic.”
Moffitt laughs off 40-yard dash
The always-entertaining 319-pound lineman was at it again yesterday. Moffitt said he was pleased with his Pro Day performance and his showing at the NFL combine.
But he readily admits his 40-yard dash time isn’t anything special. After running a 5.4 at the combine, it was no surprise to see Moffitt dodge that event at his Pro Day this time around.
“My 40 [yard dash] wasn’t great. It was about a swift seven seconds,” Moffitt said with a laugh. “It was horrible. … It was about 30 yards too far. … But my other numbers I was really happy about, and those are the things that really pertain to me, to my position.”
No lockout please
Potential draftees are all curious to see if they’ll be able to go to work once they are drafted or if the league will undergo a lockout as the players and coaches negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.
As you would expect, Moffitt hopes the issue is resolved in the near future.
“I hope they get it figured out because my parents do not give me allowance anymore,” Moffitt said with a smile. “I need money.”