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Wilson satisfied with ‘pro day’

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Tom Silverstein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
March 8, 2012
— If there were any throws National Football League coaches and scouts hadn’t seen Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson make during his Rose Bowl season with the Badgers, they were given a full complement Wednesday at the Dave McClain Center.

During the Badgers’ annual pro day, where NFL personnel come to work out draft-eligible players, Wilson made every possible throw a pro quarterback has to make.


“All the play-action routes, all the five-step, three-step, seven-step throws that I could possibly make,” Wilson said afterward. “I made 63 throws; that covers just about everything you can throw. I just try to show every single team that I can make every throw.”


Wilson said he completed 60 of the 63 passes—all thrown with no defenders on the field—and felt he took another step toward showing he’s capable of playing in the NFL.


The one thing he wasn’t able to do was increase his height to 6-foot, although he did say he was measured at 5-11 on Wednesday, which is taller than the 5-10 5/8 he measured at the Senior Bowl and combine. Wilson is going to have to overcome the conventional thought that quarterbacks under 6-foot can’t play in the NFL.


He’s hoping that teams will make their judgment on his game tape more than measurements, but he also feels he has shown the scouts he’s capable of making any kind of throw through his combine and pro day performances.


Wilson has been working on his form with former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL veteran quarterback Chris Weinke, who was in attendance Wednesday. Part of what Wilson wants the NFL people to understand is that he played behind a pro-sized offensive line at Wisconsin and didn’t have very many passes knocked down.


“The key is finding lanes and delivering the ball on time,” he said. “There’s not that much of a difference if I was 6-1 or 5-11. You don’t really see over guys, you throw through lanes and deliver the ball.”


Wilson has a number of things going for him. He’s extremely smart, he’s fast and he’s accurate with his passes. There’s nothing wrong with his arm strength and he showed the ability to play both in the shotgun formation and under center during his time at North Carolina State and Wisconsin.


“He’s a very impressive fellow, articulate, knowledgeable, confident,” said Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who attended the workout. “He projects that confidence. He’s going to be a good get for somebody.”


Asked what else Wilson had to do to prove himself, Thompson said, “I think you play. This is sort of the warm-ups. The playing comes after he gets selected by a team. He’s going to be fine.”


A good number of the scouts will have to return to Wisconsin to get a look at center Peter Konz, another of the Badgers’ outgoing seniors.


Konz is coming off a dislocated ankle that he played through in the Rose Bowl and has yet to do anything for scouts but bench press and take a medical. Considered the best center in the draft and a probable first-round pick, Konz said he would have to conduct another pro day in April so that the scouts can see him.


at full strength.


“I’m real close,” Konz said. “You can see me itching to get out there. I’m probably 90 percent. I’m just holding back and being smart. The most important thing is my longevity in my career, so when we get into May I’ll be able to do camp and I won’t reinjure it.”


Konz’s linemates, guard Kevin Zeitler and tackle Josh Oglesby, went through drills under the watchful eye of Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice. They were run through various kinds of running plays and pass protections so that the scouts could see how they move.


Zeitler is trying to improve his stock by showing that he can play guard and center, the latter of which is the position many NFL personnel think is his best. Finishing tied for third among linemen in the bench press at the combine (32 reps), Zeitler began working at center after the Rose Bowl and feels he can play anywhere on the interior.


A graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran High School, Zeitler would love to play for the Packers and he was surprised to find out that Thompson knew who he was when they walked past each other at the combine.


“We kind of like stared each other down and I walked by, and he was like, ‘Zeitler, you’re not going to stop and say hi.’ So I stopped and said hi.”


Another Badger who hoped he made an impression was safety Aaron Henry. Not invited to the combine, Henry has been working all off-season for his pro day opportunity and said he made every movement count.


“I did pretty good,” he said. “In my 40 time, I did a (personal best) 4.53. I jumped an all-time high—I jumped 39 ½ (inches)—and when I was down training I was jumping 32, 33s, 34s. I got 16 reps on the bench. I felt like I fared well.”



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