Though a hodgepodge of former Ducks worked out in front of a sizable group of NFL scouts at the Oregon Pro Timing Day, all eyes were on De’Anthony Thomas.
Despite showing uncanny straight-away speed throughout his three seasons for Ducks football, Thomas ran a pedestrian 4.5 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
“I ran a 4.5 in ninth grade, so I was like wow, this is crazy,” Thomas said.
His teammate Avery Patterson questions the validity of Thomas’s 40-time.
“It wasn’t a 4.5. A lot of that stuff is kind of messed up. That’s what they said so that’s what is going to be on paper. A lot of those scouts have their own time and that’s what they rely on.” Patterson said.
“I don’t even have to run to run a 4.5,” Thomas added.
So today, he was determined to perform, and even dress, the part of an elite NFL speed demon.
“I’m in my track and field outfit today,” he said.
His outfit was highlighted by a pair of white socks with red lettering that read “100.”
“The socks was my motivation today with the 4.5. Today I just had to come out here, keeping everything 100 and had to go hard,” he said.
When it was all said and done, Thomas dashed through two-fifths of the football field faster than he did at the incessantly hyped NFL Combine.
At the Moshofsky Center, Thomas’s official 40-time was 4.39.
He also ran the short shuttle in 4.23, finished the three cone drill in 6.95 and the long shuttle in 11.46. He didn’t perform any of these drills at the combine.
However, Thomas improved upon his bench press reps at 225 pounds. At the combine, Thomas amassed eight reps. This time around, he accumulated 10 reps.
“I feel like I’ve gotten bigger. I’ve put on a couple pounds, getting a lot stronger and just training,” Thomas said.
Despite his improved performance, he believes people place too much emphasis on the 40-yard dash time and don’t focus enough on game speed.
“I feel like a lot of people put chili on it(the 40-yard dash). Everybody has their own opinion,” Thomas said.
Though Thomas doesn’t know where he will land come April, he wouldn’t mind reuniting with former coach Chip Kelly in Philadelphia. With Philadelphia picking up exemplary 3rd down back and punt returner Darren Sproles, the window for a Kelly-Thomas reunion might be closed. However, considering Thomas might not play running back in the NFL, who knows what will happen.
“I want to just get anywhere on the field. wide receiver, punt returner, kick returner. I just want to get on the field and make plays,” he said.
But Thomas wasn’t the only former Duck who may have improved his draft stock on Thursday afternoon.
Josh Huff clocked in between 4.43 and 4.44 in his first 40-yard dash attempt. However, the time did not count.
Instead, his second attempt, which clocked in at 4.47, was his official time.
Daryle Hawkins, 2011 graduate Lavasier Tuinei and Thomas worked out in wide receiver drills with Huff. With his NFL position still in question, Thomas proved that he can catch the ball with no defenders in sight.
The former Oregon running back didn’t drop any passes while performing a bevy of routes in front of scouts. Huff, however, dropped a few passes and slipped a couple times as well.
Brian Jackson, Patterson and Terrance Mitchell represented last year’s Oregon secondary at the Pro Day.
Mitchell ran an official 4.52 40-yard dash, while Patterson finished in 4.54 second and Jackson finished in 4.59 seconds.
The trio made more noise throughout their defensive back drills than any other Ducks workout group. Unlike hecklers at away games who typically dish out negative reinforcement, the three constantly encouraged each other to perform at the highest level.
“If you talk each other up that confidence carries over to everybody,” Jackson said.
Patterson talked to reporters about butterflies going into the combine and his performance:
“It is definitely a little nerve-racking .This is pretty much your job interview for the next level,” he said.
“Today I don’t think I got into a good rhythm on the bench press. I only got 10 reps but I’ve been working out at 15 reps,” he added.
However Patterson said: “They(scouts) were most pleased with my quickness and my agility.”
He also commented on the increasing importance of safeties in the NFL game:
“If you can find a playmaker at that position, which I feel like I am, it’s a game changer. Safety can be a game changing position. Especially if you can ball hawk the ball like Earl Thomas and Jairus Byrd. ”
As for the big uglies up front, Taylor Hart, Ricky Havili-Heimuli, Everett Benyard and Wade KelIikipi attempted to impress NFL scouts.
Hart ran a 4.81 40-yard dash, Havil-Heimuli finished his 40 in 5.38 and Everett Benyard ran a 5.65 40-yard dash.
Patterson commented on what the future holds:
“I’m just going to keep working hard, getting ready.”
Jackson will miss being a Duck but is ready to move forward.
Memories will last forever, so you gotta keep rolling and make some new ones.”