Luck shines pro day spotlight on teammate Fleener

March 23, 2012, 1:54 am
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STANFORD -- With his draft status all but assured as the No. 1 overall pick of the Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck decided to share the wealth Thursday at Stanford's pro day.The main beneficiary was tight end Coby Fleener."I'm in a very unique position and I feel very fortunate," Luck said. "Nothing's ever set in stone, but I think I'll have the chance to be drafted very high."Maybe a pro day isn't going to help or hurt me as much as some of the other guys on our team. So I wanted to show the strengths of our receivers."The coaches, scouts and media who packed the sideline on the Stanford practice field already knew the strengths of Luck, who negotiated the windy elements with aplomb. The physical tools are undeniable, but Luck also rates high in the category of intangibles."Andrew's going to be a great pro because of his brain and hard work," Fleener said.And he proved to be an outstanding teammate on Thursday. Luck went out of the game to help his receivers, with a throw behind a running back here and a low throw to a receiver there. And it was all by design.And, in the process, Fleener did his fair share to solidify his standing as a likely first-round draft pick, too. He had an impressive showing while running 40 yards with representatives from all 32 NFL teams watching and clocking his every move.Fleener checked in at last month's NFL scouting combine at 6-foot-6, 247 pounds with a 79 14-inch wingspan and 10-inch hands. But he did not run due to a right ankle sprain.He ran on Thursday, and he ran fast. Fleener was timed from 4.45 to the low 4.50s in his two runs. And when Luck was asked about his best throw during his 48-toss showcase, he pointed to one he put up for Fleener to go get.Near the end of the workout, Luck lobbed a high fade in the end zone that enabled Fleener to showcase his jumping ability and soft hands."I was secretly very proud of putting it in the right spot," Luck said.Two young, tall, athletic tight ends had dominant seasons in the NFL last season, and Fleener is likely to be viewed in that mold.New England's Rob Gronkowski had 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns, and New Orleans' Jimmy Graham caught 99 passes for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns."I'm thankful for the Gronkowskis and Jimmy Grahams of the world and what they've done the past couple years," Fleener said. "It's helped our tight ends draft class and I'm absolutely thankful."The Stanford campus was the place to be for NFL types on Thursday, as four potential first-round draft picks, including offensive linemen David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, were on display.The NFL Network and ESPN televised the event live because of Luck's presence. While Luck was impressive with a relatively low level of difficulty from his workout, he preferred to share the spotlight."If I go out and throw a ball I don't really want to throw, I'll do it for those guys," Luck said.Fleener, who caught 34 passes for a 19.6-yard average and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Stanford, caught passes for Luck, along with wide receivers Chris Owusu and Griff Whalen, and running back Jeremy Stewart.Owusu did not run a 40 on Thursday, as he let his 4.31-4.36 from the combine stand on its own. He ran routes, and generally looked smooth. After Luck's workout, one scout requested a "deep throw." Owusu ran a go pattern and Luck, throwing into a slight head wind, unleashed a pass that traveled at least 70 yards in the air that Owusu dropped.The 49ers had several representatives, but neither coach Jim Harbaugh nor general manager Trent Baalke was in attendance. It seems unlikely any of the four possible first-round picks will be available if the 49ers do not move up from their pick at No. 30 overall.The 49ers already have Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker, but could the 49ers be a possibility for Fleener?"I won't know until draft day," he said. "To guess is a fool's game."
Washington's Mike Shanahan and Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt were the only NFL head coaches watching the Stanford pro day. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin, who worked out Wednesday in Waco, Texas, is expected to be the Redskins' choice with the No. 2 overall pick.

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