Sports, Football

Three Prospects Shine for BC in Pro Day

Having 35 people—let alone 35 NFL coaches and scouts—in one room has been practically unheard of in the last year. But with top NFL Draft prospects Hunter Long, Isaiah McDuffie, and Max Richardson taking part in Boston College football’s annual Pro Day, scouts flocked to Fish Field House. 

McDuffie and Long were invited to participate in this year’s NFL Combine, but because there is no centralized combine this year due to COVID-19, they went through their three-cone drill, 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical jump, and bench press exercises in the comfort of their home facilities. 

“I felt really comfortable out there,” Long said. “It was awesome to be back at BC. I missed all the guys, so it was good to see them.”

In total, twelve total former Eagles attended the event, including eight who have been away from the Heights for at least one year. Max Roberts rounded out the group of four Eagles participating from the 2020 team. 

Long, a three-year player and two-year starter for the Eagles, has the highest draft projection of the group, as Pro Football Focus lists him as the fifth-highest projected tight end. Long is heralded as a versatile player who excels in both blocking and receiving.

“I’ve kind of always prided my game on being a well-rounded tight end, a three-down tight end that can do everything,” Long said. “I feel comfortable anywhere on the field, and I feel like I showed that versatility this past year in our offense. So I feel like I’m bringing a lot of skills to the NFL and will be able to mesh with a lot of different offenses.”

The Exeter, N.H. native clocked 40 times of 4.63 and 4.69. Only Brycen Hopkins, Stephen Sullivan, and Albert Okwuegbunam recorded sub-4.7 times for tight ends at last year’s combine. Long added a 10-foot-2 broad jump and a 32.5 inch vertical jump. 

“[I wanted to] just showcase my versatility, showcase not only the blocking drills [but] that I have the technique and the fundamentals to be solid in the blocking game, but also show them my ability to get loose in the routes and in my agility, and that kind of stuff is my bread and butter,” Long said.

Long finished the 2020 season with 57 receptions and five touchdowns in 11 games. His 57 receptions were good for most in the nation by a tight end, sitting eight catches ahead of the second-highest tight end total. 

“I wish we had him back,” BC head coach Jeff Hafley said of Long. “That’s how good he looked. … I think he’s going to be one of the safest picks in the draft because I think he’ll play for a long, long time.”

While Long is a well-known name around the NFL, McDuffie and Richardson had a bit more to prove. The linebacker duo impressed in the three-cone drill, with Richardson finishing in 7.20 and McDuffie close behind at 7.26. McDuffie and Richardson also finished with 25 and 24 reps on the bench press respectively. 

McDuffie stood out to Hafley on Friday with his speed, which the linebacker said he has been developing over the last couple of months in Florida. 

“He plays with his hair on fire,” Hafley said of McDuffie. “He practices that way. He is extremely tough. I think in a league where you need guys who can run, that’s what he can do. He’s a linebacker that can run. … So his potential, I think, is really, really high. And I just think he’s gonna keep getting better and better.”

Richardson, one of the 2020 squad’s captains, has long been known not only as an excellent voice in the locker room, but also an intelligent player, according to Hafley. 

“Max is one of the smarter football players I’ve ever been around,” Hafley said. “And players like that who are instinctive like Max get on a team, and they can stay there for a long time. … But I think you’re going to get a guy who’s going to be a real pro.”

In such an unusual year, BC’s NFL prospects have leaned on a coaching staff with decades of combined NFL coaching experience as well as a number of former Eagles who have made their way to the pros. Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano, Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon, Jake Burt, and Tommy Sweeney have all been through the draft process recently and extended advice to BC’s current prospects. 

“I’m obviously really close with Jake [Burt] and Tommy [Sweeney],” Long said of the former teammates who he shared the tight end room with. “And I’m in the same agency as AJ [Dillon]. AJ’s been living 10 minutes from me in California. … Basically, they’ve all shared the same message of ‘be yourself and be confident.’”

Richardson and McDuffie have Milano to look to in the pros, as he was a late-round draft pick in 2017 and has since outperformed expectations. Milano started 20 games for the Bills over the last two seasons, including recording 101 total tackles in the 2019 season. 

“[Milano told me] ‘just do your thing, stay focused, work hard,’” Richardson said. “It’s not so much what happens with the draft. Don’t allow that to be the biggest of your concerns. But once you get your foot in the door, make the most of your opportunity.”

Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics

March 27, 2021