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Football: Luck, Fleener impress at pro day on the Farm

Redshirt junior quarterback Andrew Luck threw 50 passes at Stanford's pro day on March 22, his last chance to impress scouts before the NFL draft later this month. (ROGER CHEN/The Stanford Daily)

In his last chance to impress scouts and media members before April’s NFL draft, redshirt junior quarterback Andrew Luck didn’t disappoint, putting together a dazzling performance at the Stanford football pro day on March 22.

Redshirt junior quarterback Andrew Luck threw 50 passes at Stanford's pro day on March 22, his last chance to impress scouts before the NFL draft later this month. (ROGER CHEN/The Stanford Daily)

And while the superstar quarterback and future first overall pick didn’t exactly have a lot on the line at his pro day — his talent has been well-documented for more than two years — Luck still capitalized on the opportunity to show more than 100 scouts from all 32 NFL teams just who will be taking snaps next season.

On a cold, windy day on the Farm, Luck completed 46 of his 50 passes on throws that highlighted his mobility, including several snaps where Luck was forced to race away from a coach chasing with a broom that was intended to simulate the reach and speed of an NFL pass rusher.

“I wanted to put my best foot forward and show that I could make all the throws that I am going to be asked to do. I thought I did that to a degree, so it was a good day in that regard,” Luck said afterward. “I wanted to go out there and show that I could make every throw that an NFL quarterback has to make.”

Luck also said the pro day was a good opportunity to highlight what he’d been working on so far this offseason with quarterback coach George Whitfield, the mentor to last year’s number one overall pick, Carolina Panthers passer Cam Newton.

“I’ve been working a lot on throwing from awkward positions, maybe different positions,” Luck said. “I’ve tried to work that in to some of the throws. Whether it’s running left and trying to get it across your body or types of throws like that are going to be throws you will have a chance to complete at the next level.”

With his final throw of the day, Luck took the opportunity to add one additional highlight and show off a little bit, launching a 70-yard pass downfield into the hands of senior wide receiver Chris Owusu, who dropped the pass at the goal line.

“I think he could probably throw it further than that,” redshirt senior tight end Coby Fleener said.

“Maybe, in fact, his arm strength isn’t his weakness after all,” Fleener continued, adding a quick shot at the scouts and media members that have criticized Luck’s deep passing abilities this season.

For his part, Fleener also impressed the NFL scouts by showcasing his impressive speed. The 6-foot-6, 247-pound tight end wowed teams by running the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, an effort that likely helped Fleener solidify his status as a first-round pick as the best tight end in this season’s draft class.

Also impressing were defensive tackle Matthew Masifilo, safety Delano Howell and cornerback Johnson Bademosi. Masifilo showed off his strength by bench-pressing 225 pounds 38 times, Howell improved on his performance at February’s NFL combine by recording a better broad jump, vertical leap and 40-yard dash, and Bademosi blazed his way to a 4.3-second 40-yard dash, then topped it off with a 40-inch vertical leap of his own.

Conversely, offensive tackle and likely first-round pick Jonathan Martin, who was unable to participate in the NFL combine due to illness, didn’t have a great day. Martin only notched 20 reps on the 225-pound bench press, a low number for an offensive lineman.

However, Martin and fellow first-round lineman David DeCastro both said the atmosphere and fanfare of the pro day were exciting as they head towards the NFL draft.

“It is always nice when you can prove your talents to as many people as possible,” Martin said. “It’s always fun to get in front of people and show what you can do. I prefer to play football, obviously. I am never going to run 40 yards in a game, unless it is chasing down an interception or something, but yeah, it is always fun to compete.”

Even though he did not run or participate in any of the pro day drills, DeCastro added that the event helped him to continue to motivate himself as his NFL career comes ever closer.

“I still think that I might not get drafted, that is how I push myself,” he said. “The fear of failure, you have to get better every day or you aren’t going to be any good.”

Martin echoed his teammate’s sentiments, saying that he wasn’t going to spend any time speculating about where he might be drafted on April 26 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

“It’s something that you can’t pay attention to,” he said. “There is all kinds of buzz, but you don’t think about it as a player. You concentrate on what you can do, set goals for yourself and cancel out all the outside noise.”

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