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NFL scouts evaluate Duke talent

Ten NFL teams sent representatives to Duke’s annual Pro Timing Day Tuesday, as nine former Blue Devil football players sought to impress the professional scouts and vie to be selected in the April 23 NFL draft.

In this yearly tradition, Duke joins college football programs across the country in providing outgoing seniors with a chance to work out with NFL personnel. These days afford players who did not receive an invitation to the NFL Combine an opportunity to get on or move up teams’ draft boards.

“Today is when you’ll see where you stand with regards to the NFL,” linebacker Giuseppe Aguanno said.

Blue Devils participated in events showcasing their abilities, including the 40-yard run, vertical leap and bench press, in addition to skill drills tailored for individual position players.

Standout performances included defensive tackle Orrin Thompson’s 24 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press. Cornerback Kenneth Stanford and wide receiver Senterrio Landrum led the field in the 40, recording times in the low 4.5 range. The fastest times clocked at the NFL Combine hovered around 4.3 seconds.

Safety Alex Green, named Defensive MVP of the Jan. 15 East-West Shrine Game, is likely Duke’s best future NFL prospect. The senior had a 34.5 vertical and turned in times near 4.6 seconds in the 40. He also achieved a personal best in the bench press by tallying 15 reps, improving his previous record by three.

Jonathan Kline, Green’s agent, anticipates that his client will be selected somewhere between the fifth and seventh rounds of the draft.

“I have no control over that at this point,” Green said. “I can just do my best and perform as well as I can when I have the opportunity. I guess that will be up to everybody else.”

Several NFL teams have shown interest in the safety.

“I was told some time ago that Green Bay was looking at me,” Green said. “Earlier in the year at practices the Eagles were always around. I just know there’s certain teams here and there.”

The Washington Redskins have also scheduled a private individual workout with Green for April 1.

Aguanno is another graduating Blue Devil hoping to make a career out of football.

“I’m looking at the NFL, but also the Italian football league,” Aguanno said. “It’s like going back to my roots.”

The linebacker’s bench press rep total Tuesday was 19, and he indicated that the rest of the day’s performance lived up to his expectations. Aguanno performed a series of receiving and footwork drills with quarterback Chris Dapolito in addition to the running, jumping and lifting exercises.

“Hopefully I’ll make it here [in the NFL], maybe Italy, maybe somewhere else,” Aguanno said.

Former Duke players have enjoyed a measure of success playing in the professional ranks. Seven ex-Blue Devils are currently active in the NFL, including three who played at Duke during the 2003 season. Ryan Fowler signed on at linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Strojny mans right tackle for Philadelphia and Matt Zielinski fills in at defensive tackle for the Ravens.

Other Blue Devils who worked out at Pro Timing Day were tight end Calen Powell, punter Trey McDonald and kicker/punter Matt Brooks. Former Duke tight end Nick Brzezinski also participated in drills after spending a season away from football battling injuries to his medial collateral ligament and anterior cruciate ligament.

“I think it went pretty well for pretty much everybody,” Aguanno said. “We’re really not going to know anything for sure until Draft Day, until free agents get signed.”

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