The Fish Field House at Boston College was busy Wednesday, with representatives of all 32 NFL teams on hand for the Eagles’ Pro Day.
It was one of the best-attended in recent memory, with the large collection of scouts, executives, and coaches in Chestnut Hill to see 17 prospects work out. Fourteen of those players were from the 2018 BC team, 13 of them seniors and one, defensive back Hamp Cheevers, a junior who is leaving school early. The Eagles had seven players at the NFL Combine and could beat the existing school record of four players drafted in a single class since the draft went to seven rounds in 1994.
“This reminds me of days back at Florida,” said head coach Steve Addazio, assessing the crowd.
The Patriots had a large presence, with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, college scouting coordinator Brian Smith, and coaching assistant DeMarcus Covington all on hand. Former Patriots defensive line coach Brendan Daly, who left for the same position with the Chiefs last month, was also on hand.
Scarnecchia gave a long look to offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom, who could be the first Eagle to come off the draft board. Scarnecchia and Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland spent some of the afternoon running drills with Lindstrom and fellow lineman Aaron Monteiro, and Scarnecchia had a private meeting with Lindstrom after the drills and tests were finished.
“It was really cool to finally get to meet him, the great coach he is,” Lindstrom said.
Lindstrom said Scarnecchia’s advice was to take advantage of the time between the Pro Day and the draft and not to stop working on himself just because the evaluation period was over. Lindstrom said he was thrilled to get what amounted to a semi-private coaching session, and that it wasn’t too intense.
Scarnecchia can be tough in practices, but he was keeping it light Wednesday.
“We’re not building rockets here,” he joked after one player ran around the wrong cone.
He gave Lindstrom some pointers on snapping the football. Lindstrom worked mostly at guard in college but has been practicing snapping in case some NFL teams see him as a center. The Dudley native is the son of former Boston University and NFL player Chris Lindstrom Sr. He’s a great athlete for his size (6 feet 4 inches, 308 pounds) and is seen as one of the top interior linemen in this draft class.
The other potential first-rounder at BC’s Pro Day was defensive end Zach Allen, who stood by his testing numbers from the combine (5.0 40-yard dash, 32-inch vertical jump, 112-inch broad jump) and just did position drills.
“I thought it went really well,” Allen said. “I just wanted to come out here, luckily all the track stuff is done so we’re back to playing football so got to just do kind of what I signed up for and it went really well which is fun.
“I just wanted to show that I could do it all, whether a team needs me to be an edge guy, inside, bend, explosive. My big thing is that I’m pretty versatile, I just wanted to kind of prove that I could keep on doing it.”
Allen said he’d spoken with the Patriots briefly but had a longer meeting lined up with them in the coming days. At 6-4, 281 pounds and more reliant on smarts and anticipation than burst or athleticism, he might move inside on passing downs in the NFL and set the edge on early downs instead of working as a pure rusher. Allen said he sees his versatility as a strength and doesn’t like the “tweener” label.
“That’s just kind of a lazy word that they put on it because, for BC, I had to be a bigger end because that’s the kind of defense we wanted but nobody knows what I could do at a certain size. I can gain the weight, I can lose the weight without losing my twitch.”
“That’s why teams, when they press play and watch my tape that’s why they’re interested. I don’t think [about] some guy sitting on his couch calling me a tweener, I don’t really care.”
The athletic feat of the day came from receiver Jeff Smith, who was clocked running a blazing 4.34 40-yard dash. Defensive lineman Ray Smith had to be runner-up, though not for any drill that counted. Smith landed off-balance on one of his broad jump attempts and recovered by doing a cart wheel.
Along with Jeff Smith, Ray Smith, Monteiro, Cheevers, Lindstrom, and Allen, linebacker/long snapper Kevin Bletzer, defensive backs Will Harris, Taj-Amir Torres, and Lukas Denis, defensive linemen Wyatt Ray, linebacker Connor Strachan, tight end Tommy Sweeney, and receiver/return specialist Mike Walker rounded out the group from the 2018 team participating.