The arduous pre-draft process has reached its final stages and through the months of all-star games, weigh-ins, workouts and interviews, things couldn't have gone much better for those former UConn football players hoping to play in the NFL. The latest stop on the months-long tour leading up to the NFL Draft in late April: the Huskies' pro day.
Cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who began opening eyes in the Senior Bowl and later the NFL Combine, improved his 40 time from 4.53 in February to unofficial times of 4.40 and 4.32 Wednesday in Storrs, but this was as much about those players already known to scouts, coaches and front-office types (which include Trevardo Williams, Dwayne Gratz and Sio Moore, in addition to Wreh-Wilson) as it was about the under-the-radar guys getting one last chance to show what they have.
And that brings us to return man and wide receiver Nick Williams, who coach Paul Pasqualoni last season compared to former Pats-now-Broncos slot specialist Wes Welker. Funny story: Welker's old coach, Bill Belichick, was on hand to watch the pro day, something that didn't' escape Williams' notice.
"That was pretty interesting," Williams said via the Hartford Courant. "I was fired up when I found out he was coming. An opportunity to work out in front of him is not something you can do every day. I was very fired up, especially with — although I think they're a little lofty — the Welker comparisons."
Williams' ran an unofficial 4.56 40, and truthfully, his NFL chances seem slim from the vantage point of March. But Welker, who has been the NFL's most productive player over the last five seasons, went undrafted out of Texas Tech. There's more than one way into the league.
"I think he's going to open some eyes and he's going to surprise people with his ability to return a punt and return a kickoff," Pasqualoni said of Williams. "He has a way of doing it. And he will develop into being a good inside slot receiver."
As Pasqualoni sees it, Williams just needs more experience at wideout.
"He's that inside slot guy who really hasn't had enough experience there yet," the coach said. "We kind of put him in there last year, but you don't do it in one year. This is not a microwave oven where you throw it in, set the timer and in a short period of time you're done."
Another player hoping to get noticed: tight end Ryan Griffin who was inexplicably not invited to the combine. The tight end ran a 4.76 40 Wednesday and certainly looks the part physically.
"I just wanted to prove that I deserved a shot at the combine and I deserve a shot in the league,"
The NFL Draft is from April 25-27.