MADISON, Wis. — A huge NFL contingent of 90 people representing every team, including Super Bowl XLV coaches Mike McCarthy and Mike Tomlin, turned out to watch the Badgers perform indoors on FieldTurf at Wisconsin’s pro day.
J.J. Watt, Gabe Carimi and Lance Kendricks were the headliners, and they didn’t disappoint with their performances. Each built on the momentum created by their strong showings at the NFL Scouting Combine, and the buzz will certainly continue following their workouts Wednesday.
Watt, who opted to stand on his numbers from the combine, went through a 15-minute position-specific workout in front of scouts. He was smooth and fluid in his movements, and shows surprising fluidity changing directions. His athleticism is impressive for a man of his size, and he certainly has the ability to play defensive end in a 3-4 or 4-3 base defensive scheme. Interestingly, high-level executives from a trio of 3-4 teams (San Diego Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers) paid close attention to his workout, so it is apparent that could be in play from the middle of the first round down on draft day.
Carimi also garnered a lot attention at the workout, as teams continue to assess his ability to project as a left tackle. Based on his workout, he doesn’t look out of place playing on the blindside. He showed good footwork and lateral quickness in drills, and his body control is surprising given his frame. Although he might experience some problems against speed rushers, teams will certainly start him out as a left tackle and move him to the right if he falters. Regardless, he comes away from the workout viewed as a first-round lock.
Kendricks improved his numbers in the 40-yard dash (4.50 seconds) and vertical jump (38 inches), while measuring in at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds. He looked more explosive in his routes, and showed good quickness and body control getting out of breaks. He also caught the ball cleanly with his hands and did a good job of tracking the ball with his eyes. Although he had a few drops during the workout, his hands and receiving skills shouldn’t be a concern for interested teams.
John Clay and John Moffitt also deserve a mention for their performances. While neither drew rave reviews, they showed signs of improvement from their combine performances. Clay, in particular, ran a better a 40 (4.72) than his combine time and was more consistent catching the ball in drills. Moffitt, who measured in at 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, performed in position drills only.
Quarterback Scott Tolzien measured 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, and put on an impressive performance in the workouts. This year, in helping lead the Badgers to the school’s first Rose Bowl appearance since 2000, Tolzien completed 73 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. In Big Ten play this season, Tolzien completed 81 percent of his passes against the blitz.
Wide receiver David Gilreath measured 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds. For Gilreath, the pro day performance was important, given he did not participate in workouts at the combine. Gilreath ran 4.41 and 4.40 in the 40, jumped 33.5 inches in the vertical, had a 9-foot-8 broad jump, a 4.23 short shuttle and posted a 6.50 3-cone drill. In addition to playing receiver, Gilreath returned kicks for the Badgers, including a game-opening touchdown on a return in the Badgers’ upset victory over then-No. 1 Ohio State on Oct. 16.
Wide receiver Isaac Anderson, who also did not participate in the combine workouts, measured 5-foot-9 and 174 pounds. Anderson ran 4.44 and 4.48 in the 40, had a 36-inch vertical, 10-foot broad jump, 4.15-second short shuttle, and a 6.92-second three-cone drill.
Gil Brandt contributed to this report.