Pro Day Observations
Inside the Moshofsky Center at the Oregon football complex on Thursday, several former Ducks and dozens of pro scouts and media gathered to observe pro day. With a diverse group of talent taking the field, here were some of the highlights of the event. Mariota solid: Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Marcus Mariota returned to Eugene for pro day and admitted after his throwing session that he was nervous being back at Oregon. Mariota was largely on point during the throwing portion of the day showing some good zip on the ball. Of the dozens of passes Mariota threw from under center, something he wasn’t tasked with doing as a Duck, there were only 3-4 passes that I'd classify as bad. He missed a short route after an impressive streak to start the drill and missed a couple of deep routes, but largely he looked someone who belonged on an NFL field. When the action moved to the red zone, Mariota displayed a beautiful touch on his fade route passes to the corners. Though he thought he threw better at the combine and said he did “well”, it seems hard to believe that Mariota did any damage to his draft stock, even with reports coming in that he was 'underwhelming'. He looked very good under center and that bodes well as the draft approaches. During the media session, he said he was meeting with Tennessee on Thursday afternoon before heading to the East Coast. Since the Titans just lost QB Jake Locker to retirement at the age of 26 and hold the second pick, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him land there. Mathis shines in speed drills: While official times have yet to be released, by my notes no one could touch Dior Mathis on Thursday during the timed drills. I clocked him in at sub 4.3 seconds in both of his 40-yard dash attempts and he also stole the broad jump event as well. Mathis clearly looked like the fastest player out there in each drill and took full advantage of his opportunity in front of a packed house full of NFL scouts. Towards the end of the day Mathis was seen fielding punts off of machine. With his speed, the best shot he might have at sniffing out an NFL roster is in the return game. Who knows, maybe Chip Kelly will find room for him as he continues to round up former Ducks in Philadelphia. Jake Fisher earns rave reviews: Fisher was one of four Ducks linemen to participate in the drills today which included Hamani Stevens, Hroniss Grasy and former offensive tackle Fenuki Tupou. By the end of the day Fisher was drawing a lot of praise, with NFL.com Senior Analyst Gil Brandt saying Fisher could be a possible first round pick. Fisher was a key cog for the Ducks last season as they suffered through numerous injuries on the offensive line en route to the national title game. His absence against Arizona left Mariota dancing around anxiously as the line struggle to contain the Wildcats pass rush in what eventually turned into a Wildcats victory. Those who’ve observed Oregon football know what Fisher meant for that line and today a host of scouts found out what he might be able to mean to a team at the next level. Ifo on the comeback trail: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu did not participate at Pro Day as he recovers from a knee injury suffered before the CFP National Championship game, but the star cornerback was in good spirits and said he’s on the comeback trail. Ekpre-Olomu said he’s been talking with teams and doing his best to let them know he’ll be worth the risk and that he’ll come back 100 percent. He still can’t practice, but hopes that he’ll be able to see the field again by September. In the meantime he’s been trying to bulk up his upper body and did participate in the bench press portion of the day before drills started. Armstead looking forward to next stage: Although he had a lighter day than most, defensive end Arik Armstead got the opportunity to put his skills on display for the scouts and had the distinction of receiving one-on-one tutelage while others completed in group activity. Armstead took to the instruction well and looked strong during the drills. Afterwards he spoke about being excited for the next level and said he's glad to have the combine and pro day in the past so that he can focus on individual workouts and preparing for the draft.
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