Scouts from 27 National Football League teams descended on Evanston on Tuesday to look at prospects for April’s NFL draft.
Northwestern’s annual pro day began with prospects from smaller schools around the Chicagoland area showing their mettle for the scouts. In the afternoon, eight former Wildcats took the field to push their bodies to the limit for a chance at playing in the pros.
“This is an exciting day,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “It’s an opportunity for them to showcase their skills and hopefully prolong their football careers … 98 percent of the work is already done. This is 2 percent of the evaluation; you either confirm that you can run and that you’re really athletic, or you’re not.”
All prospects ran through the same seven drills — the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, 3-cone drill, 60-yard shuttle, broad jump, vertical jump and bench press — before moving onto position-specific drills as a group in the afternoon. Only seven of the eight Cats participated in most of the speed and strength tests. Kicker Steve Flaherty only went through the kicking drills.
Cornerback Quinn Evans clocked the fastest unofficial time in the 40-yard dash at around 4.40 seconds. He also set the best mark of the day with a 10-foot, 3-inch broad jump.
Defensive tackle Brian Arnfelt showcased his strength with 38 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press, tying the high at the official NFL Scouting Combine in February.
The day was actually easier than anticipated for some former Cats. Linebacker David Nwabuisi and offensive tackle Patrick Ward both said they trained at a much higher level in order to make this day a little bit easier and that they felt comfortable in front of the scouts.
Tuesday also presented a second chance for safety Brian Peters, who worked out at linebacker and long snapper after bulking up about 15 pounds. He said he decided to move closer to the line of scrimmage and be more of an athletic linebacker after observing the changes in the pro game.
“I’m just chasing my dreams till the wheels fall off,” Peters said. “Any way to make myself more marketable.”