“What else do they want?” A look inside Delaware’s NFL Pro Day

Delaware Pro Day - Louis Mason
Scouts from over half of the NFL teams time the 40-yard dash at Delaware’s Pro Day.

Managing Sports Editor

Some of the instructions sound strange to an untrained ear, perhaps for good reason. For instance, “Jump out of your shoes.” For college players looking to go pro, there’s a lot more to Pro Day than just how well they run or catch the ball.

National Football League (NFL) Pro Day is a day of testing and drills similar to the Combine, but was born out of the belief that players are more comfortable performing on their home practice fields with players they’ve worked alongside for years. Universities and colleges with large football programs host their own Pro Day, their players often joined by smaller contingents from other schools in the area.

“Jump out of your shoes,” does not actually mean jump so your shoes come off. Instead, it’s plant your feet, bend your knees and jump straight up out of your shoes so your feet don’t shift position on the vertical jump. Moving your feet got you called off and going again. “Break you,” isn’t actually as cruel as it sounds. It’s a cue for a receiver to turn to face the other direction while moving downfield for a pass.

Delaware Pro Day - Louis MasonLOUIS MASON/THE REVIEW
Delaware safety Nasir Adderley is tested in the vertical jump.

It’s not just the drills themselves scouts were assessing at NFL Pro Day but how the players responded; Were they hearing the details? Did they ask questions if they needed to? Was advice being absorbed and used? Are they coachable? Do they make eye contact? How do they react after a less than pleasing performance? For some players, it’s their only chance to show what they can do.

“Hard-nosed, tough, sideline-to-sideline, lunch pail, everyday guy, is like, well what else do they want?” linebacker Troy Reeder joked about the things he’s been told he has in his favor.

Reeder was not invited to the Senior Bowl or the NFL Combine, unlike teammate Nasir Adderley, who is projected to go anywhere from the first-round to early third. So for Reeder, this was a chance to “show them where I was and that some of those [low] projections are wrong,” which Reeder believes kept him out of the Combine.

Adderley, who did play in the Senior Bowl but was kept out of the Combine by a high ankle injury, was forced to stop after his first 40-yard dash due to straining his hamstring.

“Obviously disappointing, I mean my whole life I’ve been wanting to test and perform at this level,” Adderley said. “I’m gonna just remain positive and focus on moving forward.”

Delaware Pro Day - Louis Mason
Nasir Adderley, a potential first round pick, speaks with the media after his Pro Day was cut short due to injury.

For Friday, the next step was an interview with personnel from the New York Giants right after testing.

Reeder laughed as he recalled the conversation with his dad about his NFL Pro Day.

“‘My Pro Day?’ he’s like, ‘I just got a call from [Coach] Tubby [Raymond] the night before and was like the [Washington] Redskins are here.’ He just came down the next day and ran a 40 and put him through some drills. He was ready, he was ready for it but he was the only guy they worked out. Obviously a little quieter than today, but he’s definitely been a lot of help.”

Troy worked out on his Pro Day in front of full stands and scouts from all of the National Football League’s 32 teams at the Delaware Field House.

One important person in the stands? His younger brother Colby, also a linebacker, who he told to pay attention to Pro Day’s proceedings. The younger Reeder certainly took the advice to heart; he was the first person in the bleachers for the vertical jump in the arena of the Bob Carpenter Center, pressed right up against the railing. When his big brother hit a 37.5 on the vertical jump, which for a 6-foot-3-inch, 245-pound linebacker is pretty good, Colby flashed a thumbs up.

Reeder also managed a broad jump (jumping from a planted position as far down the field as possible) of 10 feet, 2 inches. For a linebacker, this is impressive, but for Delaware’s “tackling machine,” it didn’t come as much of a surprise. By the end of the day he’d been invited to the Philadelphia Eagles’ local day workout, along with wide receiver Vinny Papale.

Delaware Pro Day - Louis Mason
Delaware wide receiver Vinny Papale finishes his test on the bench press.

He was also joined by fifteen of his own teammates including Ray “Buck” Jones; Joe Walker, who ran full sets of both defensive back and wide receiver drills; and Kani Kane, as well as ten players from Delaware State University and Wesley College. It was the largest Pro Day to grace the grounds of the university.

“The best part about it was rarely at Delaware do you get to work with so many of our guys, our players,” Reeder said.

“It just kinda seemed like the last time going out there with those guys, it was awesome.”

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