As job interviews go, those involving potential NFL Draft candidates are far from ordinary. Instead of suits and computers, there are compression shorts and stopwatches.
For the Wisconsin seniors who did not receive an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday’s Pro Day at the McClain Center was their time to showcase their abilities. It’s an exciting day for the players, as well as their families and friends, as they put their skills on display for scouts from various NFL teams.
UW head coach Bret Bielema, however, has mixed feelings about the Pro Day.
“You’re excited for them, but on the same account, you’re sad because you don’t get to be around them much anymore,” he said.
Former UW linebacker Jaevery McFadden, on the other hand, was all smiles during interviews Wednesday after Pro Day.
McFadden, a Florida native, is projected as either a late-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft in late April or a non-drafted free agent signee.
“I’m getting some good feedback from all the scouts and coaches that came out here today,” he said. “My agent just told me that Philadelphia and some of the scouts that aren’t even here called in today. So it was a pretty good day today.”
Listed at 6-foot-1 and weighing in Wednesday at 240 lbs., McFadden was generally satisfied with his Pro Day numbers, though he thought he could have performed better with one or two additional reps in each event.
McFadden ran a 4.78 in the 40-yard dash while registering a 33-inch vertical jump. His best broad jump was a 9-foot-9, though he said he could have had 10-foot-1 on his first attempt if he had not slipped.
Additionally, he ran a 4.3 in the shuttle and benched 20 reps at 225 lbs.
“For the most part, everything was good and looked good,” McFadden said. “All the scouts gave me positive feedback on my performance today, so that’s a good thing.”
In addition to McFadden, scouts watched Dan Moore, Jeff Stehle, Garrett Graham, Mickey Turner and Chris Maragos participate in drills Wednesday at the McClain Center.
Of the seven former Badgers participating, Maragos had perhaps the most impressive day.
Leading up to Pro Day, the former UW free safety was looking at the event as a crucial aspect in his progress toward landing a spot with an NFL team in late April.
At 5-foot-11, 198 lbs., Maragos is not typically considered one of the faster players on the field. With his performance Wednesday, which was clocked as fast as 4.47 and as slow as 4.52, the Racine native believed he may change people’s perceptions of him.
Comparatively, Eric Berry — the highly touted safety out of Tennessee — ran a 4.47 at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
“They all love the way I play on film, and I think the big question mark is if I can run,” Maragos said. “Today, I think we accomplished that.”
In talking with the scouts, Maragos was told by all of them that he helped himself quite a bit Wednesday. He expects to get calls from teams and to set up visits in the near future following Pro Day.
In the 20-yard shuttle and the three-cone drill, Maragos ran a 3.96 and 6.4, respectively. By comparison, the fastest time listed on the NFL combine website for the shuttle is 4.0 for cornerback A.J. Jefferson of Fresno State.
The best time by any safety listed is 4.10 by Tennessee’s Dennis Rogan.
“I’ve run faster, but I think the shuttles were probably near the top if not the top times in the country,” Maragos said. “I was really extremely happy with that, and my 40, I was really happy with that; I wanted to get somewhere in the 4.4s.”
Not all UW draft hopefuls had the opportunity to dazzle scouts Wednesday, however.
For linebacker O’Brien Schofield, the event was a chance for the former UW defensive end to watch his teammates perform and talk about his status with scouts and the media.
Schofield had a similar experience at the NFL Scouting Combine, as scouts and coaches interviewed him often to determine where he was at mentally in terms of his injury recovery.
While Schofield has not been able to work out for scouts and will not before the draft in April, the Illinois native says he expects to be on the field in 2010.
“I’m playing this year,” Schofield answered when asked if he had ruled out playing in 2010. “I know that I can. And the way that I’m progressing right now on my rehab, Dr. (James) Andrews told me six months for full recovery and possibly being able to do non-contact things in minicamp.”
Still, Schofield insists he will not return to the field before he is ready.
“Honestly, if I don’t feel right, I won’t force it because I don’t want to re-injure myself,” he said. “But I really feel that I can play.”