An injury that will keep him from working out at this week’s NFL combine in Indianapolis, while disappointing, should not be major obstacle to Zac Dysert’s pursuit of his goal of being selected in the NFL draft.
Dysert, an Ada High School graduate who broke Ben Roethlisberger’s career passing yardage record at Miami University, was injured during a workout last week at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he was preparing for the NFL combine.
He said he will attend the combine to do interviews with NFL scouts, personnel directors and coaches and undergo a physical exam, but will not be able to throw or do any of the other drills.
He is hoping the injury will be healed by March 21 when Miami will hold its pro day for NFL scouts in Oxford.
While the combine is a valuable tool for NFL talent evaluators, it is not a make-or-break situation for the athletes who are invited.
At least that’s the opinion of Jim Lippincott, who retired last year after 20 years of working in scouting and in the personnel department of the Cincinnati Bengals. He attended the combine every year.
“The most important part of evaluating a player is watching him play on his college team,” Lippincott said. “They (NFL teams) will trust their eyes.”
The biggest negative for a player at a combine would be if he were significantly slower than teams thought he was.
Evaluating quarterbacks in combines and at all-star games is especially imprecise because they are throwing to unfamiliar receivers, he said.
“It makes them look bad,” Lippincott said. “But you can judge the release of the ball and the velocity of the ball in the air.
“The most important part of the combine is the medical exam. The medical exam is about as complete a physical as a human being can get,” he said. “Years ago, the combine began as nothing more than a medical exam. Then somebody got the bright idea that we should put them on the field and have them do drills. And then we got the bright idea that we should interview them.”
Since December, with a week out to play in the Senior Bowl, Dysert has been training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., along with other quarterbacks like USC’s Matt Barkley and West Virginia’s Geno Smith. His instructor has been Chris Weinke, who won the 2000 Heisman Trophy at Florida State.
Weinke made a slight adjustment to Dysert’s throwing motion, but much of his on the field time at IMG was spent getting used to dropping back to throw, something he rarely did at Miami.
“I was mostly in the shotgun, so we’ve been doing a lot of under center drops, just trying to get more familiar with it,” Dysert said.
The IMG Academy is a comprehensive program to prepare players for the combine, the draft and playing in the NFL. Agents purchase slots for players in the academy and Dysert’s agent spent one of his on him.
Players are schooled on things like how to answer questions at the combine, dealing with the media and nutrition, in addition to going through football drills and weight-lifting on a daily basis.
Dysert said he expects to be questioned about his leadership skills this week in Indianapolis.
“I got that a lot at the Senior Bowl. But I tell them I was a three-time captain at Miami. That helps out a lot,” he said.
He rated his accuracy and escapability under defensive pressure as two of his strong points.
“I’m more elusive than fast in the pocket. People might think I’m faster than I am. But I have good game speed,” he said.
Mock drafts have predicted Dysert could be drafted anywhere from the second round to the sixth round.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. evaluated him this way on a national conference call in January:
“Dysert’s a kid who has all the physical qualifications you look for. He has the size – he’s over 6-3 and 226 pounds – the ability to make some people miss in the pocket and maneuver just enough. If he has to run, he can.
“You think about all the quarterbacks who have come out of there (the Mid-American Conference), Ben Roethlisberger and that program, I think Dysert’s got a chance to be a guy that people look at in the fifth round area. I think he’s got a chance to be a guy on Day Three that ends up being one of the first quarterbacks off the board,” Kiper said.
After the combine, Dysert has been invited to tape a segment with Jon Gruden on his Gruden Quarterback Camp show on ESPN.
Then it’s back to Oxford to get ready for Miami’s pro day. The NFL draft will be April 25-27.
Dysert said he is more excited than nervous about how NFL teams evaluate him between now and then.
“You control the stuff you can control and don’t worry about the rest,” he said.