Coffman hoping college production is enough for scouts

Friday, March 20, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:19 a.m. CDT, Friday, March 20, 2009
Former Missouri tight end Chase Coffman, center, talks with former MU quarterback Chase Patton, right, and Patton's personal coach, Skip Stitzell. Since breaking a bone in his foot during the Tigers' Alamo Bowl win, Coffman has missed three chances to work out for NFL scouts.

COLUMBIA — Almost all the scenes that have defined the Missouri football team during the past two seasons were replicated in the workouts during Missouri's second Pro Day on Thursday.

Chase Daniel connected with Jeremy Maclin on a deep fade down the left sideline during Daniel's individual workout. Daniel spoke with former offensive coordinator and current Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen before he began throwing. William Moore showed off his range and ball skills during a position drill. And Ziggy Hood's exceptional quickness was on display as he weaved through blocking bags in pursuit of an imaginary quarterback.

There was only one thing missing: Chase Coffman displaying his trademark combination of tightrope walking, high jumping and jaw-dropping pass catching.

While his former teammates attempted to beat the clock during their 40-yard dashes, the Mackey Award winner dealt with a much different obstacle — a foot-long Spicy Italian sandwich  from Subway.

Rather than make his way through the intricate pattern of the three cone test, Coffman did his best John Elway impression by walking through play action fakes and throwing passes to Moore.

And when Coffman did finally take the field during Daniel's workout, his participation was a little different. While Maclin and Tommy Saunders ran a variety of routes, Coffman simply stood in place and caught whatever Daniel threw his way.

It's not that Coffman wants to pass up the chance show his skills. It's that doctors still won't let him.

In the final offensive play of Missouri's Alamo Bowl victory, Coffman fractured the fifth metatarsal bone of his left foot. During last month's NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Coffman said he thought he would be healthy by Thursday's Pro Day, but 10 weeks into rehabilitation Coffman still hasn't been cleared by doctors to run.

"I'm not going to try to push anything and do anything that they say is going to be harmful," Coffman said. "If I reinjure it, then I definitely set myself back."

Coffman plans to see doctors in Indianapolis to get an update on the injury, but Coffman's father, Paul Coffman, said it will probably be another two weeks before his son is fully healed.

Thursday was the third missed opportunity for Coffman to perform for scouts, and while his recovery is on schedule, it isn't getting any easier for him to miss these chances.

"It's been more than frustrating, having to sit and watch at the combine, having to sit and watch the first Pro Day and having to sit and watch this one," Coffman said. "I want to be out there doing everything I can for my draft stock."

Coffman's situation brings up the question of how important NFL scouts consider pre-draft workouts.

Unless Coffman schedules individual workouts with specific NFL teams, many of them will not see him work out before the NFL Draft on April 25. The only way that scouts will be able to evaluate him is through the four years of game film that Coffman accumulated while at MU. Paul Coffman, a former NFL Pro Bowl tight end himself, doesn't see it as a problem. He thinks the film can show scouts everything they need to know.

"(Playing tight end) is all about getting separation and getting open," Paul Coffman said. "Over the last four years you've seen that (Chase) can do that. It's about catching the football, and I would challenge anybody to find somebody that percentage-wise catches more balls than Chase does when he gets his hands on it."

In recent years, many NFL scouts have placed increasing importance on the measurable elements of pro prospects. Blazing 40-yard times, massive broad jumps and high bench press numbers have made differences worth millions of dollars. But while Paul Coffman understands that teams want exceptional athletes on the roster, he still thinks that what a player has done with the pads on will always be most important.

"Usain Bolt can come in here and run the fastest 40 time ever," Paul Coffman said in reference to the Olympic gold medal winning sprinter. "But the question is whether or not that transfers to production on the field."

Paul Coffman also pointed to the struggles of 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, who used a show-stopping performance at the 2006 scouting combine to propel himself to a top 10 draft pick, but has failed to produce at a high level.

"I think teams are learning," Paul Coffman said. "The last few years there have been guys drafted that have been combine all-pros and it hasn't turned into production on the field. A lot of teams have been burned by that. And people that I've talked to around the league have said that they're putting less and less stock in the combine."

An emphasis on production can only be good news for Chase Coffman. He caught more passes than any tight end in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and also added 30 touchdowns during his MU career.

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