HARRISONBURG — The gauntlet of drills NFL scouts tested Jimmy Moreland with weren’t enough.
At James Madison football pro day on Tuesday, the former Dukes cornerback displayed exactly why he’s a prospect for next month’s draft.
“It’s not very tough, but it’s very tiring,” Moreland said of the workout as he came off the field at Bridgeforth Stadium. “But once you get going and get your conditioning back up, you’re good.”
Those evaluators — from 13 different teams — holding their clipboards tight and stopwatches tighter sent Moreland from combine-like testing to cornerback-specific drills to special-teams tasks.
Moreland, one of eight former Dukes to participate, stood out the most when he backpedaled fluidly from his cornerback stance before intercepting a pass and running the other way like he did so many times throughout his Madison career. The Royal Palm Beach, Fla., native left JMU as the school’s all-time record-holder with 18 interceptions.
Moreland didn’t drop any of the dozen or so passes thrown toward him to be picked off, nor any of the punts aimed high into the air and down to him out of the Jugs machine while a scout from the Baltimore Ravens watched closely. The consensus All-American even successfully snagged a couple of punts one-handed when the Ravens personnel man asked him to.
“I think some of the teams want to see me as a return man,” Moreland said. “The [61-yard return on a missed] field goal from the East-West Game did help me, so I could return a lot. But if you just go back and watch the film of all the punts and all the touchdowns [at JMU], you see me in the front running with the returner and leading the way, so I can be a great return man as well.”
It also helps that Moreland proved he could navigate a chaotic horde of would-be tacklers throughout his time in college with the six touchdowns he scored off of interceptions returns.
The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder also showed he was within the range of those draft hopefuls who play his position that participated in the NFL Combine last month.
One scout said Moreland ran his best 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds, which would stand within the top eight corners at the NFL Combine. He finished his 3-cone drill in 6.90 seconds, had a vertical jump of 39 inches and a broad jump of 120 inches. All but the broad jump fell within the top 10 of corners at the NFL Combine.
“All the scouts told me I ran really well,” Moreland said.
And he wasn’t the only one who excelled in the running portion of the workout.
Former Dukes wide receiver David Eldridge clocked in at 4.06 for the 20-yard pro shuttle, according to another scout, which would place in the top 10 of anyone who ran that drill in Indianapolis.
Eldridge, who battled a knee injury in his senior season at Madison, said he trained following the team’s season to ensure he’d be healthy for pro day.
“And some people told me I ran a 3.95 [shuttle],” Eldridge said. “That was way faster than I had been doing. I was normally at like 4.10 or 4.15, but I just came out here and I felt good.
“But I think the adrenaline, too, with the guys supporting you and having the scouts here [helps].”
Eldridge along with outgoing running backs Cardon Johnson, Marcus Marshall and Trai Sharp all caught passes from former JMU standout and current Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Bryan Schor, who returned to Harrisonburg this week since his former teammates needed someone to throw to them.
“I loved having Schor out here and it definitely made me and the guys that were catching passes more comfortable,” Sharp said.
Johnson said he thought him and his teammates were ready to perform well because they had practiced most of the same drills they did on Tuesday in their preparation for pro day with assistant strength coach Mike Morris.
“Personally, I felt like I did good,” Johnson said. “I was just excited for the opportunity to showcase what I could do.”
Of the eight JMU participants, Marshall tallied the most reps on the bench press with 21.
Marshall spoke with a scout from the Tennessee Titans afterward, and Moreland chatted with the same Tennessee scout as well as one from the New York Giants. Moreland said he has a visit scheduled with the Chicago Bears next week.
“Then I’ve got a couple more after that,” Moreland said. “But it’s going to be a great experience just waiting for draft day and that day to come.”