Across the country NFL coaches, coordinators and scouts are visiting universities for Pro Days—one of their last chances to evaluate the incoming class of rookies. And a couple of lawmakers came along Tuesday as team officials visited Florida State University.
There’s a line of people just over forty yards long. They’re dressed in jogging pants and sneakers and standing at the center of FSU’s indoor practice facility. They create a physical fence, but every few moments a glimpse of young men dressed all in black, streaking down the field shows through the gaps. It’s Pro Day at Florida State University. This is the forty-yard dash, one of the most recognizable drills coaches will put the players through.
The event is sort of a cross between a beauty pageant and a career fair. Team officials are watching how players perform physically, yes, but they’re just as interested in how they work socially. Here’s Tampa Bay Bucaneer’s quarterback coach Mike Bajakian.
“To be able to perform in front of the guys that are essentially going to hire them, is important,” Bajakian says. “You also want to see how they interact with their teammates and the coaches and the people around, to make sure they have the type of personality that can translate into leadership.”
In addition to speed drills, there are also drills testing strength and workouts that test agility.
One of the agility drills is called the three-cone drill. Think of a capital letter L, the cones are arranged five yards apart, at all three points. The player starts off at the top cone, runs straight down, back to the top and then around the corner weaving through the bottom two cones before looping back to the start.
But the drill drawing the most attention by far, is the passing performance from Quarterback Jameis Winston. Many are projecting him as the first overall pick in the NFL draft at the end of this month.
The draw is so strong, a couple of lawmakers couldn’t resist taking a break from the Capitol.
“I’m a big Rashad Greene fan,” Sen. Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale) says. “And to see him run the cris routes, and see the way he caught the ball, I mean, just, he’s going to be the steal of the draft. Anytime I can see Rashad Greene do his craft I enjoy it.”
Smith is a graduate of Florida State’s law school. Rashad Greene has been a standout wide receiver for the team over the past few years. But some commentators worry he might not be big enough or strong enough to compete in the NFL. Democratic Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) came along, too. And he brought some sage advice.
“All the players, I say look, go play for the Dallas Cowboys, that way I can continue to root for you,” he says. “If you go to any other team, I’ll root for you as long as you’re not playing the Dallas Cowboys.”
At the end of the day, reviews about Winston’s throwing were mixed, but Mike Bajakian had some complimentary things to say about his performance. That could be important, remember Bajakian is a coach for the Tampa Bay Bucs. This year they have the first pick in the draft. But just like at the Capitol, getting to that final decision often happens just outside public view, and we won’t know for sure until teams cast their lots on draft day.