They have waited their entire lives, so what’s another two weeks?
As it turns out, the extra 14 days have been the most nerve-wracking of all for this year’s crop of local NFL draft prospects.
It provides more time for teams to scrutinize them. It requires more effort to tune out the analysts. And it will result in less time to learn the playbooks once they get into camp.
“It’s been a really cool experience, but it’s been really long and the two extra weeks made it even worse,”
UCLA defensive end Cassius Marsh said. “I am just ready to find out where I am going so I can get back to playing football.”
The NFL Draft is usually held in late April, but the league said it moved the dates this year because of a scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall in New York, where the draft is held.
The first round is Thursday night. The second and third rounds are Friday while rounds 4-7 will be held Saturday.
Marsh, an Oaks Christian School graduate, leads a contingent of area prospects that are expected to be second- or third-day selections or sign as free agents once the draft ends.
They have spent the past few months working out to improve their stocks. They have gone through pro days, visited teams or had teams visit them.
Marsh and Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews attended the NFL Combine in February.
Mathews, a Camarillo High graduate who posted the highest Wonderlic score in the quarterback draft class, has remained on the East Coast to prepare for the draft.
“It’s been a long process, but it’s been a lot of fun,” Mathews said. “It’s something you go through only once in your life so you try to enjoy it as much as possible.”
Mathews set 47 Cornell records and 18 Ivy League records for passing and total offense in his four-year college career.
The Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars came to New York to put him through workouts.
“Everyone really keeps things close to the vest,” Mathews said. “They obviously don’t want other teams knowing what they think about you ,so it’s kind of hard to gauge exactly if they like you and if they would possibly pick you up as a draft pick or free agent.”
USC offensive tackle Kevin Graf believes he increased his value during USC’s pro day.
“I had about eight offensive line coaches tell me that it was one of the most impressive pro days they have seen,” said Graf, an Agoura High graduate who started 39 games at right tackle for USC. “That is always really good to hear and it really motivates you a little more to keep on working hard until draft day comes.”
Graf made visits to the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns and worked out for several other teams.
“I have heard I could go as early as the fourth round or as late as the sixth or seventh round,” Graf said. “I am just waiting to get my name called. It’s hard when you don’t have any of it in your control. You just have to sit around and wait.”
New Mexico State outside linebacker Trashaun Nixon is projected to be selected in the later rounds or sign as a preferred free agent.
The Hueneme High and Ventura College product had a private workout with the Seattle Seahawks a few weeks ago.
Nixon was included on the “6th annual Wes Welker Watch List: Potential impact undrafted free agents” written by Don Banks of SI.com.
Banks said Nixon was “snubbed by the combine, but has been noticed by teams that love highly mobile linebackers who can chase all game and keep delivering big hits at the same time.”
“I really don’t pay much attention to the web stuff because that can mess you up,” Nixon said. “I just want to have a shot to be able to show what I can do no matter if I get drafted or go as a free agent. I just want a shot to play at the next level.”
Arizona State’s Chris Coyle thought he might move to fullback in the NFL, but teams have indicated otherwise during the draft process.
“From talking to teams, they really want to use me the same way as they did here as that H-back, that guy who does a little bit of slot receiver, a (mobile) tight end,” Coyle, an Oaks Christian graduate, told reporters at ASU’s pro day. “A guy that can get to the edge and have that advantage on linebackers and edge blocks.”
Marsh will be prolonging the family’s NFL tradition when he hears his named called. His father, Curtis, played wide receiver in the NFL and his older brother, Curtis, a Royal High graduate, is a cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles.
“It’s always been my dream to follow in my dad’s footsteps. He made it there, and I grew up watching my older brother play and he was always a big deal in Simi Valley,” Cassius Marsh said. “It’s always been a family thing and a goal for me and my brother. We wanted to play in the NFL together, so I have never really known anything else.”
Marsh made visits to the San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers and Jaguars and had workouts with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams.
“I think teams are impressed with my versatility. I have played a lot of positions over the years and done well at all of them,” Marsh said. “People I have met have told me they could see me as an outside linebacker all the way down to a three technique in passing situations. I have worked at tight end and have film there. They feel like they can be really creative with my versatility.”
Regardless of what transpires in the draft, Nixon is just grateful to have reached this point in his career.
“It has been a blessing,” he said. “This is what I have been working for my whole life, and most people don’t get this chance. It has really been a dream come true.”
©2014 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.)
Visit Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) at www.vcstar.com
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Photo Credits: Chris Coyle, Twitter.com/BIGCsundevil87; Cassius Marsh, Kirk McKoy/Los AngelesTimes/MCT; Kevin Graf, Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/MCT.