NFL hopefuls perform at regional combine

RENTON — For Zach Johnson, the Regional Scouting Combine at the Seattle Seahawks’ facility on Saturday offered his first real opportunity to show what he could do in front of NFL scouts.

The Eastern Washington University product had not been cleared by doctors from labrum shoulder surgery in January, so Johnson did not participate at his school’s pro day two weeks ago.

“I just wanted to get some numbers since I didn’t do it on pro day for scouts to see,” Johnson said. “And I tested as a safety. I played linebacker my whole career. And so I’ve been trying to do that, and I’m a little lighter. I wanted to open some eyes with that.”

At 6-foot and 212 pounds, the Tumwater High product will have to make the transition from outside linebacker to safety at the next level. Johnson put up decent numbers in his testing, running a 4.64-second, 40-yard dash and posting 39.5 inches in his vertical jump.

Johnson also has some pedigree, with twin brother Matt a fourth-round draft selection by Dallas last year.

“It definitely helped,” Johnson said about his brother playing in the league. “He was hoping to play, but had injuries last year. But it just lets me know what needs to be done, and kind of the mental aspect of it.”

Johnson was one of 275 players looking to impress scouts during testing and positional work. As expected, the Seahawks had a large contingent of scouts and coaches on hand, including offensive line/assistant head coach Tom Cable, senior personnel executive Scot McCloughan and director of pro personnel Tag Ribary.

The NFL prospects are hoping to be one of about 200 players to advance to the Super Regional Combine at Cowboys Stadium beginning April 7, where representatives from all 32 NFL teams will be present.

Several Seattle players also stopped by to take in the action, including safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, defensive end Bruce Irvin and tight end Sean McGrath.

A Chicago native, McGrath was discovered at a regional scouting combine last year, and eventually invited to the Super Combine in Detroit. A product of Henderson State University in Arkansas, McGrath’s former teammate safety Jeremy Rodenburg, competed in the regional combine in Seattle this weekend.

“Any time you can get yourself in front of scouts and get that type of exposure, especially coming from a small-time school — any opportunity counts,” McGrath said. “If you’re out there, they’re going to find you. And this is kind of another opportunity for a guy coming from my situation from a small school background — or perhaps a guy who’s been out a little bit that still wants to chase his dream – this is a great opportunity.”

Wide receiver Kyle Bolton of Baker University, a NAIA school in Kansas, posted the fastest 40-yard time at 4.29 seconds, although at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds he has some size issues to overcome.

Safety Jay-T Rysaac, who played at NAIA Georgetown, Ky., posted the fastest time among defensive players in the morning group, running 40 yards in a time of 4.44 seconds. Even more impressive is Rysaac is 33 years old.

But perhaps the most impressive athlete was University of Idaho defensive end Benson Mayowa, who ran a 4.65 40-yard time and posted a 38-inch vertical at 6-3 and 252 pounds.

Former pro basketball player and Lincoln High of Tacoma product Maurice Shaw looked like he belonged out on the field, running a 4.81 40-yard time, and moving well in agility drills at 6-10, 265 pounds.

Washington State University product Isaiah Barsh, who plays for the Seattle-Tacoma Cobras of the Professional Developmental Football League, relished the chance to show what he could do in front of NFL scouts. Barsh, a linebacker, says he’s scheduled to compete in Buffalo’s rookie minicamp in May.

“I felt good,” Barsh said. “Everything felt fluid. I caught all of my passes except one.”

Added Johnson about the experience of working out at the VMAC: “It was awesome. It’s a great facility. And I definitely got more excited just seeing all of these banners and everything. It was fun.”

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