CEDAR FALLS — It may have been the toughest job interview any of them have experienced.
But if any of the eight former University of Northern Iowa football players had to do it again, they’d jump at the opportunity.
For a little more than 90 minutes Tuesday at the UNI-Dome, a group of graduated Panthers were put through various drills in front of 12 NFL scouts at UNI’s annual Pro Day.
“It was fast-paced,” tight end Elias Nissen said. “You went from one drill to the next and they kind of gassed you, but it was a lot of fun. The opportunity to have a job interview in front of NFL scouts ... it was a blessing and I enjoyed it.”
Nissen was one of the Panthers who most interested the scouts. He opened the day with 23 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, which would’ve ranked second among tight ends at the NFL Combine.
In addition to his blocking, Nissen and three other receivers/tight ends ran dozens of routes for quarterbacks Eli Dunne and former Drake signal caller Grant Kraemer.
But Nissen, who recently signed with an agent, knows his ticket to landing in the NFL is his ability to block.
“I’ve been researching different depth charts,” Nissen said. “And places I could possibly fit and contribute and not just be a camp guy, but someplace where I could find myself on a roster ... as a free agent or whatever.”
Nissen had a lengthy conversation with a scout from the Detroit Lions after the pro day ended and said a lot of the feedback he got was positive.
“They know I can block,” Nissen added. “That is what I can do. They said I was one of the better blocking tight ends they have seen. We will see how it unfolds.
“(Blocking) tight ends are a hot commodity in the league. They need guys who can block on third down, or first down.”
Defensive end Rickey Neal was also put through some extra paces Tuesday, but not just as a rush end.
“I wish I would’ve been a little more prepared. They had me go from defensive end to safety. I wasn’t expecting that,” Neal said. “Today was a great experience, one that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Neal said he has a private workout with the Chicago Bears scheduled for April 12 and from now until next month’s draft in Nashville, he plans on working out in his hometown of Racine, Wisconsin.
Running back Marcus Weymiller said he was excited for the opportunity to perform in front of scouts and wherever it may lead him, but he is equally excited for his teammates.
“They have been my teammates for the last four, four and a half years and I care a lot about them,” Weymiller said. “I wish that they continue playing and that all of their dreams come true because they deserve it.”