With the NFL Draft slated to start on April 25, 11 Ducks got the chance to showcase their skills one final time in front of NFL scouts.
Here are some takeaways from Oregon’s Pro Day:
Tony Brooks-James' "do or die" moment
Tony Brooks-James came into Pro Day without receiving a single invite from any pro team, giving him something to prove.
“I just felt like today was a do or die day for me so I just left it all out on the field” Brooks-James said. “Major chip on my shoulder from not being invited to a combine to been looking down on. I had a chip on my shoulder that I had to brush off today.”
Brooks-James, who suffered a knee injury in the final regular season game, did not begin training until two weeks after Oregon’s 7-6 Redbox Bowl victory over Michigan State. His knee seemed fine as he raised some eyebrows with a time of 4.45 in the 40-yard dash, the fastest time of the day by any Duck.
Brooks-James felt like his role in the NFL would be on special teams or even a backup running back.
“A couple teams came up to me after we were done and took my information down and told me they would be in contact with me,” Brooks-James said. “So it's great things looking forward.”
Despite not receiving a single invite to any combine, he had a brief response about proving people wrong on his Pro Day.
“Money, money” Brooks-James said.
Knowing when it's time
The team's leader in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns last season, Dillon Mitchell, knew he had the talent to go pro. During the final two games of the season, Mitchell began to hear the buzz surrounding his name.
“It was a tough choice,” Mitchell said. “I’d be a liar to say that I don't miss being around. I thought about coming back.”
Mitchell, following an NFL combine performance, got a second chance to re-showcase his skills in front of NFL scouts. And Mitchell seemed to make the right decision as scouts have began to take interest.
“It's been a good response and good feedback,” Mitchell said. “A lot of coaches are very interested, especially after seeing me at the combine and coming to the Pro Day.”
Mitchell will be training in Phoenix, Arizona. He feels he needs to better his hands at the line of scrimmage, sharpen his route-running and catching the ball at the highest point. He will be doing all of this without his former quarterback, Justin Herbert. Mitchell got his first taste of that with Vernon Adams Jr., the former Oregon quarterback who is looking to hopefully sign with an NFL team during the summer, who was the quarterback on Pro Day.
“Playing with Justin is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Mitchell said. “Justin is just a different dude. I don't know to explain the dude.”
Justin Hollins, who was very impressive at the combine, got his second chance to show off to scouts who told him he can fit all across the linebacker position and possibly play the nickel position. His versatility can be inserted in any system.
“Just getting picked up and getting drafted anywhere, any round it doesn't matter to me, just being drafted is a blessing to me,” Hollins said.
Ugo Amadi, the Lombardi Award winner, also got his second chance in front of scouts. Amadi ran through his drills smoothly and didn’t have very many hiccups. He also showed scouts his versatility by being able to field punts and play safety or corner.
“A lot of teams are interested in me, they like my versatility ... that's helping my stock out a lot, but like I said you don't know where this is going to go,” Amadi said.
The participating Ducks will all know which NFL team they mostly fit into as the NFL Draft grows closer.
“It's never a guarantee, but as long as you have an opportunity to pursue it, you pursue it as hard and long as you can,” head coach Mario Cristobal said. “Here, the pride is in just watching them have a great opportunity to go and have a chance at their dreams.”
Follow Gabriel Ornelas on Twitter @gabe_ornelas