WACO, Texas - Baylor doesn't carry the same weight as a traditional football factory as other programs in Texas can lay claim to, but Waco was the center of the NFL world on Wednesday as the Bears held their Pro Day. It was the largest turnout of NFL front office personnel and coaches at a Pro Day in program history as hundreds gathered at the school's indoor facility. Every NFL team was represented, including three head coaches: Mike Shanahan (Redskins), Lovie Smith (Bears) and Chuck Pagano (Colts).
Quarterback Robert Griffin III was the obvious center of the attention, and he exceeded expectations.
In one of the longer passing sessions at a Pro Day in recent memory, Griffin completed 76-of-82 throws with four drops and two incompletions. He wasn't perfect, but he was darn close, taking full command of the workout. Quarterback guru Terry Shea scripted the throws, but Griffin did the rest, even selecting the music that was blasted throughout the facility. The Heisman Trophy winner looked comfortable throwing the ball on his own turf, showing good feet, a quick release and an aura of confidence as he smiled all morning.
Redskins general manager Bruce Allen also smiled during the workout, perhaps viewing the next quarterback of his organization as Washington recently traded a slew of draft picks for the No. 2 overall selection.
"He's a talented player," Allen said. "What you saw on tape all year and his entire career, you got to see up close and personal. He had a good workout."
Griffin displayed improvement in his drops and showed off his rocket arm strength, making challenging throws to the opposite side of the field with ease. His touch passes were on-point, dropping the ball in the bucket and showing outstanding deep accuracy. It's important to remember these Pro Days are scripted with no defensive pressure and good quarterbacks should excel. But even with high expectations, Griffin received "ooh's" and "ahh's" from those in attendance.
"It was pretty exciting," Griffin said. "Just a few weeks ago, I was a freshman, 198 pounds. Now I'm in my Pro Day getting ready for the NFL. It's kind of surreal. I just try not to be nervous. I used the bathroom before I threw, so I got that out of me and was ready to go."
While Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who is set to work out Thursday, is widely believed to be the No. 1 overall pick on draft day, the buzz on Wednesday was that Griffin is in legitimate contention for the top spot. Colts coaches, including Pagano and quarterbacks Coach Clyde Christensen, were present for the workout.
Griffin stood on all his numbers from the Combine, but he was on-hand to cheer his teammates as they went through drills.
Wide receiver Kendall Wright ran disappointing 40-yard dash times (4.56, 4.61) at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, but showed vast improvement on Wednesday, running a 4.41 and 4.46. He cited his "start" as the reason for the change, saying he worked on that aspect of the drill extensively over the past month.
"All I was worried about was running a good 40 time because obviously everybody thought I ran a 4.6. I hadn't run one of those since like fifth grade," said Wright. "It was my start... I got uncomfortable when I was down there (at the Combine), I popped up on my first two starts. That's all I worked on when I got back was my 40 starts."
Wright also looked good in passing drills, allowing only one pass intended for him to hit the ground. However, he quickly made up for that one drop with an acrobatic one-handed grab that created the loudest applause of the day. He caught passes with his hands, showing very good body control and footwork all morning. Wright even showed off his arm strength, throwing a 50-yard pass downfield to Griffin after the quarterback through a backwards pass to the receiver in the flat.
Not to be lost in the day's events was the impressive performance by running back Terrance Ganaway, who ran his 40-yard dash times in the low 4.5's after running a 4.65 at the Combine. He also lifted 225-pounds 22 times on the bench and looked smooth catching the ball. After entering the season as an undrafted free agent prospect, Ganaway could be a top-125 draft pick next month.
--Submitted by draft analyst Dane Brugler