BERKELEY -Fifteen former Cal players and a couple of guests ran, jumped, threw and caught through a steady rain Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium at the annual Pro Day, which was held under a steady and sometimes heavy rain.
Representatives of all the National Football League teams along with some other football gurus got an up-close look at what the Bears will have to offer in next months draft. The highlight was quarterback Davis Webb's session. Throwing a variety of passes, short and long, high and low, to some of the same receivers he targeted during his record breaking 2016 season, Webb did nothing to diminish his standing. It has been on the rise since the season ended.
Initial predictions had Webb being selected late in the second round or early in the third, but said Friday he expects to go higher. "I've talked to a lot of NFL people," Webb said during a press conference after the workouts. "And double-digit teams have told me I'm a first-round guy.'Every meeting [with an NFL team] I've had, they've said I'm one of the best quarterbacks on the board."
Webb certainly showed what his abilities are during adverse conditions. Unlike NFL, or even college games, when officials use multiple balls and protect them with towels until just before the snap, Webb had just a few to throw. They all were soaked shortly after the workout began. They were all pretty heavy toward the end," Webb said.
Near the end of the session, Zorn did find a dry one and Webb unleashed a perfect throw of more than 50 yards through the rainstorm. That was a nice punctuation to an impressive day.
NFL scouts and personnel folk are notoriously tight-lipped, but the off the record consensus seemed to be that Webb did himself quite a bit of good Friday. He compares very favorably with (Jared) Goff," one scout said of last year's Cal QB who went No.1 in the draft last year. I'm not saying he is going to be the first player taken, but he is going to go higher than a lot of people think.
Webb's offseason began with a sterling showing at the Senior Bowl, when he was named MVP by completing 11 of 16 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown and leading his South team to scores on each of his three drives. Then he impressed at the NFL combine where he ran the third fastest time among quarterbacks in the 40-yard dash of 4.79.
Since January he has been working with former NFL quarterback and coach Jim Zorn, who orchestrated Friday's workout. He has been impressed with Webb both on the field and in the film room.
Davis has done a wonderful job being consistent, wanting to be good, enthusiastic while he's there," Zorn said afterwards. "He has been a great student. His ability to concentrate for long periods of time has really shown up. It can get monotonous but he has not any signs of looking at his watch and saying, 'Wow, when are we going to be done with this. He always seems to want more and more.'
Some outsiders feel that running a spread, high-flying offense like ex-coach Sonny Dykes' Bear-Raid is not good preparation for an NFL quarterback. I think the media blows that Bear Raid thing out of proportion," Webb said of the difficult transition. "Every GM and coach I met with has been very fired up."
Zorn said the differences for a quarterback between those wild college offenses and the pro style is as much attitude as ability, and he feels Webb's confidence will help him as much as his arm. In college the plays are signaled in from the sideline as the players are standing on the line of scrimmage. Everyone knows the play at the same time, although the quarterback can adjust with hand signals.
In the NFL there is more verbiage," Zorn said. "In college they don't say anything, everybody knows what the play is because of the signal.
In the pros the quarterback gets the play then has to tell everyone in the huddle.
The biggest fear an NFL quarterback has is how am I going to call it in the huddle? How am I going to act in the huddle? Zorm said. "You've got to have a presence in the huddle.
That's what sets guys back. You've got have a strong personality. I have no problem with Davis. I think he does have a strong personality. He's not afraid to make a mistake. I think he can come in and have a faster start than another system, quarterback might.
Davis batterymate Chad Hansen, the wide receiver who was first team All-Pac-12 in his breakout season, also raised his stock on Friday. His 40-yard dash time raised some eyebrows. A lot of the watches had him under 4.5, a scout said. He ran 4.53 at the combine and this was in the rain.
Hansen, who made some impressive catches during Davis' drill, also impressed with his toughness. "We like it that he came out in his t-shirt, a scout said.
Running back Khalfani Muhammad was another participant and he ran a speedy 4.34 in the 40, although he said he can go faster. The weather was a factor Friday.
"I have been clocking 4.1 and 4.2," he said.