Scooby Wright wanted to sit down. He had put in a good day’s work, and the reward was a cushioned bench in the lobby of the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility.
Wright returned to Tucson on Thursday to participate in Arizona’s pro day. It’s safe to say things went a bit better than at last month’s NFL scouting combine.
Wright improved his 40-yard dash time by about a tenth of a second — which doesn’t sound like much but is a huge deal when the tiniest factor can separate one draft prospect from another. He improved his vertical jump by 4 inches. Wright was happy and relieved afterward, secure in the knowledge he had boosted — or at least stabilized — his stock.
“Coming out of this workout, he definitely helped himself,” said Wright’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus. “The film is so awesome for him. All we really wanted to accomplish was to have some good numbers.”
After running the 40-yard dash in 4.90 seconds at the combine, Wright was clocked at just under 4.80 on some stopwatches. His vertical jump was 35 inches, up from 31 in Indianapolis.
Wright wasn’t in an ideal state, physically or mentally, by the time on-field drills began at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium. The preceding days — featuring a battery of medical tests and very little sleep — had left him fatigued and tense.
“By the time I ran the 40, I was like, ‘ This is really about to go down? There’s no going back. You’ve got to go,’” Wright said. “It is what it is.”
Wright’s combine performance left him angry and disappointed. He spent some time in San Diego afterward, decompressing and trying to figure out what went wrong. He realized, in retrospect, that he had tried too hard.
“You can do that in a football game,” Wright said. “You can’t do that when you run a 40. You look at track guys, they don’t look like they’re about to pull a neck muscle, which I did do. There’s a picture of me. It was all bad. I was like … ‘I was that guy?’”
Rosenhaus assured him that the combine wasn’t the end-all but “just a part of the process.”
“His career speaks for itself,” Rosenhaus said. “You don’t run out on Sundays and play in shorts. You play with football pads on. When this guy has pads on, he dominates. When it comes to Sundays, he’s going to dominate again as a football player.
“He may not be the best athlete in the draft, but he’s one of the great football players. That production is going to separate him.”
Rosenhaus believes Wright will be a second-day pick in the April 28-30 draft, which would mean the second or third round. That is consistent with most current projections.
Wright said he is no longer stressing over when he will be selected.
“Lately I’ve just kind of come to peace with it,” Wright said. “Before I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to go first round.’
“I just want to go play ball. I’ll be 21 years old, playing in the NFL, living my dream. I’m just excited for it.”
- Receiver Cayleb Jones had his uncle, former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake, throw to him at pro day. Jones elected not to run the 40. He ran a 4.65 at the combine at 6-3, 209 pounds.
- Offensive lineman Lene Maiava underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in late January and did only the bench press on Thursday. He did 34 reps, the most of any Wildcat.
- Safety Will Parks had a productive day, including a 4.52 40, a 32-inch vertical and 22 bench reps at 6-0 , 204 pounds.
- Reggie Gilbert, who played defensive line for Arizona, did linebacker and D-line drills. The 6-3 Gilbert weighed 261 pounds. He purportedly ran the 40 in the 4.80 range.
- Linebacker Cody Ippolito was among many current UA players who watched part or all of pro day. Arizona concludes spring practice Friday.