For NFL prospects, there are two major ways to impress once the actual playing of football is done. First is a road game; the scouting combine in Indianapolis, with the entire league watching your every move. Second is a home game; Pro Days on individual campuses that measure the same sets of skills, abilities and aptitudes.
Performances at the two events are bound to vary, but for Syracuse offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka there was more than a little change. At the combine, he was 312 pounds and ran a 40 in 5.33 seconds. At Pro Day, he was 296 pounds and ran the 40 in 5.1 seconds flat.
So, will the real Quinn Ojinnaka please stand up?
"I think I was much more myself at the Pro Day," said Ojinnaka, a two-year starter at tackle for Syracuse who projects as a guard in the NFL. "I was more comfortable after that, and I came back and did way better."
Like many prospects, he trained with a combine specialist before the big Indy event, but the move seemed to backfire as he came in over his playing weight and didn't run well.
"I guess I had performance jitters," said Ojinnaka, whose height stayed steady at a shade under 6-5. "After the combine, I went back to Syracuse to finish my training, and I was more used to it than I was at the combine for my pro day."
Ojinnaka worked out for the Cardinals, Bengals, Falcons, Chiefs and Bucs on the Syracuse campus.
"I met with the O-line coach for each team," he said. "We went through a meeting where each guy had different questions about this play, this formation. At first I was nervous, but when I started getting at the room it was like watching film (at Syracuse). It went real well. They told me I was the best they'd seen at reading the board."
After that Pro Day, he had a workout with Patriots, who had also met with him at the combine.
"It went real good, real well," he said. "They put me through pass steps, run-blocking drills."
Ojinnaka started 23 games for the Orange, and felt that he was at his best when competing against top competition Syracuse regularly plays one of the toughest schedules in the country.
"I think I held my own," he said. "We played each other, we battled, they beat me some, I beat them some. But I had good games against them, and I think that's at my advantage, how I played in those games."
On track to graduate in May with a major in child and family studies, Ojinnaka knows that nothing comes easy on the road to the NFL.
"I have my last semester to take care of, and I'm lifting weights, training for a rookie camp, so if I get drafted, wherever I go to, I can work my hardest."
Patriots Insider, Jon Scott contributed to this report.
Be sure to check the archives for Part Two of this interview (members link) along with interviews from other prospects the Patriots worked out or have shown interest in.
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