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Bears Anxiously Await NFL Draft

April 21, 2020

The days leading up to the NFL draft can be anxious for pro football hopefuls under normal circumstances. This year, with the country on lockdown because of the coronavirus an extra element of anxiety is added. Face to face interviews are done remotely, and chances to demonstrate physical skills disappear.

The three Cal players who attended the Scouting Combine,  safety Ashtyn Davis (27 above), linebacker Evan Weaver and safety Jaylinn Hawkins, are biding their time at their respective homes both finishing up academically and communicating with NFL teams through technological methods 

The fact that Cal’s pro day which had been scheduled for March 20 was canceled adds another element of uncertainty. All three had hoped to use that event to improve their relative standing.

Despite the strange circumstances all three are handling their respective situations calmly.

Davis and Weaver are certain to be selected before the seven rounds are concluded on Saturday afternoon. Hawkins has a definite chance. Bear Insider caught up with all three this week in telephone interviews.

Davis’ Stock On the Rise

The track All-American who became an outstanding safety was hoping to flash his speed at pro day. At the combine Davis did not run the 40-yard dash nor do any skill tests or field drills because of the groin surgery that kept him out of the Red Box Bowl,

“I am 100 percent,” Davis said. “I would have done everything at the pro day.”

Although not having the verdict of the stopwatch, Davis has sufficient “track record” to verify he can run fast. Teams are showing considerable interest.

Trevor Ruszkowski USA Today
Ashtyn Davis

“There have been a lot of Zoom meetings with teams,” he said. “Probably upwards of 20 teams”

In addition to inquiries about his health, Davis has fielded questions about his football knowledge.

“Some teams will ask you about good plays you had, some teams will ask you about bad plays you had,” he said. “They want to see what your recall is like. They will ask you questions about defenses and have you explain it to them. 

“I like that we’ve found a way to get those meetings done and show teams that I do know what I’m talking about when it comes to scheme and things like that.”

Cal head coach Justin Wilcox says there is a lot more to Davis than speed.

"I think that people are excited about his tangible skills because he has great physical tools,” Wilcox has said. “But also, he has a thirst for knowledge and he is always trying to improve and learn the game.” 

He is impressing somebody. When mock drafts began coming out a few weeks ago, Davis’ name was usually found late in the third round or early in the fourth. Now he is cropping up as high as the middle of the second. 

But Davis is not putting a lot of trust in such projections. 

“I don’t know. It is kind of up in the air,” Davis said. “The feeling I get is that until we get to draft day nobody knows what is really going to happen.” 

Weaver Optimistic

Weaver, who is at his parents’ home in Spokane, said he has fielded calls from about eight teams. 

“They are all teams I dealt with at the combine or at the Senior Bowl,” he said. “And I think they do have real interest. They have followed up so that’s pretty good.”

He said the questions seem to vary from team to team.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Weaver

“Each team has its own pattern, mostly have to do with what type of guy you are, then they start asking specific questions off of that.

“They ask a lot of football questions. Sometimes they describe a play to you, and then 40 minutes later they’ll ask you to describe it to them, seeing how well you can retain a game plan. Stuff like that I am pretty good at. I think I have done a pretty good job with it.”

Weaver, who was a consensus All-American and led the nation in tackles, was timed at 4.67 for the 40-yard dash at the combine, a disappointing showing. He had hoped to improve on that at pro day, but that of course was not to be. 

One of the questions about Weaver has been his ability in pass coverage. He feels that he has answered that if teams will only take time to look.

“lt kind of shows in film,” he said, using the Big Game as an example. “I was guarding Colby Parkinson, the tight end from Stanford, for most of the game. He is considered one of the most athletic tight ends in the draft. Kind of sad. It’s on the film, I don’t think people watch a lot of film, they just look at the numbers. And talk about it.”

And while some experts say Weaver, who seldom left the field last year, will be a “first or second down” linebacker in the NFL, he said that is not the vibe he gets from the teams themselves.

“Most of them are asking about every down,” he said. “And a few other ones are saying, ’We will see when you get here.’ That type of thing.”

In the mock drafts, Weaver is consistently relegated to the late third or early fourth round. One distressing predictor had him dropping to near the end of the final round. 

As for teams, Weaver said he has no preference, “I don’t really have a favorite,” he said. “Just who wants to pick me  and give me a chance to play.”

Hawkins Hopeful

Hawkins is not getting a lot of love from those designers of mock drafts, but says teams have shown some interest. 

“I have heard from quite a few,” he said from his parents’ home in Southern California. “About 10 or 12.”.

And their interest seems to be legitimate. “They want to know what I know about their team,” he said. “How much I know about their scheme., They will ask personal questions, what players I like, what plays I like”

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Jaylinn Hawkins

Hawkins, too, was hoping to show off at pro day. He did not run the 40 at the combine because of a hamstring injury.”I was looking forward to it pro day.. I wasn’t able to do it,” he said. “But I had a pretty good showing at the combine.”

He did take part in some of the on-field agility drills and the vertical and broad jumps. His respective numbers of 35.5 and 117 inches were more than respectable. 

“I obviously feel what I showcased at the combine as far as movement, footwork, athletic skills, I think I had the best feet and breaks,” he said. “My transitions were nice and smooth, and I showed speed as well,” 

Recruited to Cal as a wide receiver, he was immediately moved to defense because of need. Initially a cornerback, he found a home at safety and with Davis gave the Bears a formidable tandem. He feels having played multiple positions indicates his versatility and is a selling point.

“I’m a versatile DB. I’m a plug-in type of player,” Hawkins has said. “I’m a football player. I was productive at corner until I got hurt, moved to safety, played in the box, on the perimeter and also in the slot. I can do it all, whether a team wants to put me in the post or play me as a quarter safety or a half safety.”

With nothing certain about where or even if he will get drafted,  Hawkins admitted to a slight case of nerves.

“I think everybody is a little nervous snd anxious about where they are going to go, but you’ve got to just let the chips just fall where they fall.”

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Discussion from...

Bears Anxiously Await NFL Draft

4,759 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 4 yr ago by 71Bear
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Good luck to all of them. Really - they are the only starters who are graduating and all have draft interest. That is a pretty cool thing.
Cave Bear
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Some team is going to get an unbelievable steal with Weaver. How can you watch him play and not want him on your defense?
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Cave Bear said:

Some team is going to get an unbelievable steal with Weaver. How can you watch him play and not want him on your defense?

All three, really. Proud to have them represent Cal.

*fixed typo
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Cave Bear said:

Some team is going to get an unbelievable steal with Weaver. How can you watch him play and not want him on your defense?
His game doesn't translate well to the pros. His lack of foot speed will be a distinct problem. I hope he can find a place on a roster and contribute on special teams and get some intermittent snaps on D.
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