Naming the biggest winners from Oregon’s 2023 Pro Day
The Oregon Ducks 2023 Pro Day took place on Tuesday morning at the Moshofsky Center in Eugene. It was a toned down version of the NFL Combine, where 12 former Ducks took the field in front of a large group of NFL scouts to show what they can do.
Various players went through a couple of jumps, the 40-yard dash, cone drills, and on-field position drills. In the end, their afternoon of work was boiled down to a large set of numbers, and a few pages of notes written in a notebook that several scouts will take back home to their respective coaches.
The entire spectacle may seem excessive to some, but it is virtually one of the biggest job interviews that some of these players will ever have. For guys like Chase Cota, Benett Williams, and Jordan Riley, among others, what they were able to put on tape at the Pro Day may got a long way in convincing an NFL team to give them a shot with a draft pick or practice squad invite in the future.
All in all, 12 guys took the field for Oregon on Tuesday:
Which of those players had the best days and likely made the best impression on the scouts who were tuned in? Here are our picks.
OL Ryan Walk
OL Ryan Walk did not receive an invite to the combine, but he made a great impression on Tuesday with some really solid numbers. Walk ran a 5.10 in the 40-yard dash, while posting a 31″ vertical and a 9’0″ broad jump. Walk also had 28 reps on the bench press.
At the 2023 NFL Combine, those would have ranked as the following among all offensive linemen:
40-yard dash: T12
That isn’t half bad for someone who didn’t even receive an invite to the combine.
“I never really pictured I’d be in this position at all, so it’s just a great opportunity to be out here,” Walk said after the Pro Day.
It’s hard to see how much Walk’s draft stock will have improved after this performance, but he certainly made the case that he should be looked at by NFL teams as an unsigned free agent at the very least. For a former walk-on at Oregon, he’s made it very clear that the exceeding of expectations is not lost on him.
WR Chase Cota
Chase Cota was another player who just missed out on an invite to the NFL Combine, but he put up numbers on Tuesday that might have showed that he has a place among the group of WRs who were in Indianapolis last week. He ran a 4.50 40-yard dash, with a 37.5″ vertical, a 10’6″ broad jump, and 10 reps on the bench press.
Here are how Cota’s numbers would have stacked up at the combine:
40-yard dash: T23
Again, Cota may not have had the performance that will make it so he gets drafted in April, but I think that some scouts and teams across the NFL will look at him as a potential undrafted free agent, and someone who can make a practice squad this fall. He looked stronger than he was this season, and appeared to have a solid day.
P Adam Barry
When it comes to specialists, you don’t always need to get into the 40-times, or the vertical jump distances to evaluate how good they can be. For a punter, the obvious number one thing you can look at is punting distance.
Adam Barry was relatively impressive in the faction on Tuesday, notching kicks of 45, 53, 47, 45, 38, 53 yards, respectively. When you consider that the NFL average punt distance is 45 yards, this puts Barry in a good light.
Will he be kicking on Sundays in the future? It’s hard to say, but he definitely gave himself a shot at making a practice squad in the future and trying to gain a roster spot.
OT Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu
Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu did a good job of improving some of his numbers from the combine, most notably in the 40-yard dash. At the combine, Big Sala ran an unimpressive 5.23. However, he turned around and ran a 5.09 on Tuesday, which would have ranked as the 12th-best time among all linemen at the combine.
Sala was unable to improve his vertical or broad jump numbers, but he had a good showing in the positional drills and clearly displayed that he is hard at work, trying to improve ahead of the draft.
CB Christian Gonzalez
It sounds funny to list Christian Gonzalez as a major winner from the Oregon Pro Day because, in all honesty, he didn’t really do very much.
However, that’s the reason that he was such a big winner. He didn’t have to do very much. After such an impressive showing at the NFL Combine, it feels like Gonzalez has solidified his spot as a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and he had the luxury of coming into the Pro Day without a necessity to prove anything, instead just going out and showing what he could do in the positional drills.
Gonzalez also got a spot front and center in front of the NFL Network TV cameras for his close-up.
#Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez says why he is the #1 corner in this years draft@nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/5Qxq4bsTdn
— Taylor Bisciotti (@TaylorBisciotti) March 14, 2023
Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez showing off his hands at Pro Day 😤@chrisgonzo28 | @oregonfootball pic.twitter.com/Xdi0hdffkI
— NFL (@NFL) March 14, 2023
While others were gritting through the biggest interviews of their career, Gonzalez was able to sit back and take it easy. That’s a pretty big win in my eyes.
QB Bo Nix
No, Bo Nix was not officially part of the Pro Day. Yes, he is still coming back to play for the Ducks in 2023. However, the Oregon QB got a little bit of a chance to show off his arm strength on Tuesday, throwing routes to WR Chase Cota in the on-field portion of the drills.
While most of they eyes in the Mo Center were supposed to be on Cota and his route-running abilities, it was hard not to focus in on how the Ducks’ QB1 looked delivering some impressive passes all over the field. The short out-routes had zip, the posts over the middle found the right spot, and the deep go-routes were well-placed on the outside shoulder.
This time next year, Nix will be going through his own Pro Day. It was pretty great to get a sneak peak of what that will look like, though, and Nix made a good impression with the scouts who were in attendance.