Missouri pro hopefuls run, jump for NFL scouts - KMOV.com

Missouri pro hopefuls run, jump for NFL scouts

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- His playing time was so sparse, it took some creative editing to cobble together a highlight tape. In four years as a backup quarterback at Missouri, Chase Patton never approached the stratospheric success envisioned when he was a schoolboy hero and one of the nation's most sought-after recruits.

To which the more than two dozen NFL scouts and an equal number of player agents gathered on campus Thursday for a pre-draft workout collectively shrugged their shoulders. Anybody heard of Matt Cassel, or Tom Brady?

"He's got the NFL look," said Skip Stitzell, a Fayette quarterback guru whose clients include Patton. "He's got plenty of arm strength and a very quick release ... They're very intrigued."

Patton's more accomplished teammates -- including record-breaking quarterback Chase Daniel, All-American receiver/returner Jeremy Maclin and tight end Chase Coffman -- took the day off Thursday, opting to instead work out at the school's second and final pro day on March 19 after previously being invited to the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

That left the spotlight for less heralded players such as Patton, wide receiver Tommy Saunders, offensive linemen Colin Brown and Ryan Madison, defensive lineman Tommy Chavis, linebacker Brock Christopher, defensive back William Moore and kicker Jeff Wolfert.

Statistically, the odds of more than a handful of these former Missouri players making a pro roster are minuscule.

But for at least one more day, the dream lived on.

"There's a lot of nervousness. It's kind of like game day, but without the hitting," said Brown, a two-year starter from Braymer. "This is definitely plan No. 1, but if it doesn't work out, I'll probably go back to school."

The talent scouts timed prospects in the 40-yard dash, shuttle runs and agility courses. They jotted down scores in the broad and vertical jumps, and bench press weights and repetitions.

They prodded and poked, checking footwork and flexibility while sharing little with the players and Missouri coaches or the group of agents, girlfriends and anxious parents waiting in the distant bleachers at Dan Devine Pavilion.

"I'm just hoping he gets a free agent contract," said Leo Madison of Bethany, Ryan's father.

Like many of his former teammates, Madison has spent the two months after Missouri's season ended working with private trainers as well as the school's strength coaches. In his case, that meant a monthlong stint at former Kansas City Chiefs lineman Will Shields' performance camp in Overland Park, Kan.

Patton, at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds has an NFL quarterback's physique, if not the college resume to match. He attended a Tampa camp run by former Chiefs quarterback Steve DeBerg, whose past star pupils include Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, an unheralded college player at Eastern Illinois.

Cassel, signed by the Chiefs last month, was a seventh-round draft choice in 2005 who rode the pine at USC behind Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, both of whom are now in the NFL. He parlayed an injury to Brady -- himself a lightly regarded, sixth-round draft choice -- into 3,693 yards and 21 touchdowns this past season.

The success of Cassel, Brady and two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner has Kevin Omell, Patton's agent, optimistic about his client's chances in either the April draft or on the free-agent market.

"Obviously, you'd like to have more game film on him," Omell said of Patton, who threw just 31 passes at Missouri. "But he's got everything you look for. He's definitely going to get a shot.

"You think Tom Brady would trade three Super Bowl rings and (model girlfriend) Giselle Bundchen for going in the first round instead of the sixth round?"

Patton gave his performance a mixed review, noting several missed connections with Saunders, his only available target. He plans to return in two weeks, when the number of scouts will likely double to check out Daniel, Coffman and Maclin, a projected Top 10 draft pick.

"I just got stuck in a tough situation," he said. "It's understood that I haven't really had the opportunity. Hopefully I can show them something out here where they see the potential."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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