by Brady Johnson
UO Athletic Communications
It was assumed De’Anthony Thomas’ draft stock took a hit from his pedestrian 40-yard-dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine. It was certain, however, he could remove any lingering doubt with an improved showing at Oregon’s pro day.
Thomas did just that Thursday in the Moshofsky Center.
Participating in all four timed events plus receiving drills in front of an estimated 30 NFL scouts, Thomas posted numbers that were expected of arguably the most explosive player in program history. Thomas hinted afterwards that perhaps too much stock is placed in the 40 times, but after a second attempt Thursday timed as low as 4.34, he won’t be worrying about that any more.
“I feel like a lot of people put chili on it,” said Thomas, referring to overemphasis on 40 times. “Everybody has their own opinions. It was just great to come here and compete and support Oregon.”
Thomas ran a 4.50 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine on Feb. 23 in Indianapolis. It was a disappointing time for a player rumored to be one of the fastest in the field. The time ranked 11th among running backs and left pundits to speculate about his draft stock.
The explosive playmaker admitted that his 4.5 time served as additional motivation to prove his worth at Thursday's pro day.
“I know I ran faster than a 4.5 today, so that’s great for me,” Thomas said. “I ran a 4.5 in ninth grade, so I was like, ‘wow, that’s crazy’. I feel like that made me train harder and I used it as motivation.”
Scouts clocked Thomas’ first 40 try Thursday between 4.37 and 4.41, which was already improved from his combine result. Thomas went even lower on his second and final try, being hand-clocked for a 4.34. That time would have tied for third-best at the combine.
Thomas also ran a 4.23 20-yard shuttle, an 11.46 60-yard shuttle and a 6.95 three-cone drill. He took 10 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press ― two above his combine mark ― and leaped 10 feet, 3 inches in the broad jump.
He also impressed in the receiving drills, showing explosive burst and quick cuts for the scouts. Through seven different routes, Thomas didn’t drop a single ball despite some being overthrown to test his speed.
At long last, Thomas can put his combine time behind him and look forward to the NFL Draft, which will open on May 8. The Los Angeles native said that he has no preference where he ends up, both in terms of an NFL team and a playing position, as long as he gets his chance.
“I want to get anywhere on the field to show my ability and that I can play football,” Thomas said. “Wide receiver, punt returner, kick returner, I just want to be somewhere on the field so I can make plays.”
Four Ducks were making their second appearance in front of the scouts Thursday after competing in the combine ― Thomas, cornerback Terrance Mitchell, receiver Josh Huff and defensive lineman Taylor Hart. Linebacker Boseko Lokombo did not participate.
For many, such as defensive back Avery Patterson, pro day provided the first opportunity to showcase their skillset in front of an audience of NFL scouts. Patterson, safety Brian Jackson, defensive tackle Wade Keliikipi, defensive lineman Ricky Havili-Heimuli, offensive lineman Everett Benyard, receiver Daryle Hawkins, and long snapper Drew Howell also drilled today. Former UO receiver Lavasier Tuinei, a senior in 2011, returned to Eugene to tryout for scouts during the event; ex-UO tight end Colt Lyerla worked out at Portland State’s pro day, which was held Wednesday.
Patterson said he hoped this pro day will force scouts to go back and watch more film of him, while Jackson added that he hoped his performance showed scouts what he is capable of.
“If I get a shot, then I’m going to make the most of it,” Jackson said. “I prepared a lot for this day, and I still feel like I could’ve done a little better, but there’s nothing you can do about it now and that’s all behind me.”
For the 11 Ducks participating, their day opened in the weight room of the Casanova Center, which was closed to the media. They had their measurements taken and bench pressed before entering the Moshofsky Center.
From there, the participants performed broad and vertical jumps, 40-yard dash, the three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and finally the 60-yard shuttle. They closed the event by going through position drills – receivers running routes, defensive backs dropping into coverage and chasing passes and defensive linemen powering through bag drills.
Oregon could potentially equal or surpass a program-high for players drafted, which has been set three times with six-player draft classes (2009, 2002, 1972).
This year’s draft will take place May 8-10. Until then, UO’s pro day participants will go back to individual workout programs at various locations.
by Brady Johnson