Pro Day allows players to get back to football

Former linebacker A.J. Klein participates in a drill that was lead by a scout as Jake Knott gets ready to follow Klein during Pro Day at the Bergstrom Facility on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.

Alex Halsted

For nearly three months, the days for linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein have been filled with practicing drills.

Getting prepared for the 2013 NFL Draft has brought along with it countless 40-yard dashes, shuttle runs, cone drills and vertical leaps. None of the drills have much to do with the everyday grind of football.

With Iowa State’s Pro Day all of that came to an end.

“I feel like the tough stuff that’s never going to help you later on in football or your career is finally done with,” Knott said with a laugh. “Now I can focus on what I think I’m really good at, which is football.”

To get noticed by NFL teams, though, those drills were crucial, especially for Knott, who is coming off a shoulder injury. Knott injured his shoulder against Oklahoma State on Oct. 20, 2012, and played through the injury with a harness on Oct. 27, 2012, against Baylor before missing the rest of the 2012 season.

While Knott attended the NFL Combine in February alongside Klein, he only met with teams and didn’t take part in workouts. In front of representatives from several dozen NFL teams at the Bergstrom Football Facility on Tuesday, he had his first chance.

Knott ran an unofficial 4.80 in the 40-yard dash and completed 20 reps of 225 pounds on bench press, which some didn’t think he would attempt. He attempted the 40-yard dash just once due to a tight hamstring, but the overall feedback from teams following the workout were positive.

“I think they just needed to see me out there and move for the first time,” Knott said of potential NFL teams. “From what I’ve heard after they liked it a lot, which is good.”

Fellow linebacker Klein, who did participate in some workouts at the combine, abstained from running the 40-yard dash at the team’s Pro Day. Klein ran a 4.66 at the combine, which ranked as the sixth-best among linebackers.

With the 40-yard dash being one of the more closely watched drills, Klein said it was good to have the pressure off entering his Pro Day workout.

“It was good to have that under my belt and give me some confidence and really, like I said, it kept me rested for the rest of the workout,” Klein said. “That time is up there with the top linebackers in this draft class, so hopefully it’ll turn some heads.”

Klein did take part in the other drills, including the bench press, where he upped his total from 20 at the combine to 24. His new total would have ranked him No. 8 at the combine.

Following position drills, there was a sigh of relief from the participating contingent as the focus now shifts to individual workouts with teams and football-related activities.

“Basically now I can start training for football itself and just get ready to do drills in front of coaches and all that,” Knott said. “And patiently wait until the draft.”

The NFL Draft starts on April 25, 2013, and goes through April 27. Knott said he will take part in an individual workout with the Kansas City Chiefs on April 5, while Klein said any information regarding his workouts are confidential.

As for when the two might get selected or where they might land, the hope is simply that the many workouts might pay off.

“Anywhere is my dream,” Knott said. “I just want to play professional football, I could care less. It could be a new team in London or wherever they’ve been talking about.”