Chris Long ‘s versatility and passion have made him a favored prospect among NFL teams.
Coaches and scouts descended on Charlottesville on Tuesday for Virginia football’s annual Pro Day, a chance for NFL brass to see the top Cavalier prospects before the April 26 NFL Draft. While more than a dozen players took part in the event, none were more closely watched than potential No. 1 overall pick Chris Long .
Long, who put on a show at the NFL Combine last month in a performance that sent his draft stock through the roof, skipped the timing drills at Pro Day. He instead focused on linebacker position drills headed up by UVa head coach Al Groh.
“He told the NFL people at the combine he would do defensive line drills there and he would come back home and work on those things [linebacker drills] on NFL Pro Day,” Groh said.
As dozens of scouts looked on, Groh led Long through a series of pass coverage and pass rush drills designed to display agility and overall athleticism, two crucial components to playing linebacker in the NFL. While Long isn’t certain where he’ll be picked or even what position he will play in the pros, he has prepared himself to play either as a down lineman or linebacker at the next level.
“I did D-line at the combine and thought I would show them linebacker today, just to show versatility,” Long said. “I feel like I can do anything they want me to do defensively, so I just have to work at it. Coach Groh and I had about five sessions to practice and it’s been pretty easy stuff to pick up. But with football, when the bullets are flying, it’s going to be another thing.”
One interested observer was St. Louis Rams boss Scott Linehan, the only NFL head coach in attendance. The Rams have the No. 2 overall pick in next month’s draft and have holes to fill at a variety of positions, including defensive line. Linehan obviously liked what he saw of Long at both the combine and at Pro Day.
“Chris is the ultimate weapon. He can do pretty much anything defensively from the 3-4 or 4-3...
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