There had been a light misting over Memorial Stadium throughout the morning, but the heavy rain didn’t start to fall until moments before Davis Webb took the field for his position work at Cal football’s Pro Day on Friday. The message was clear: This isn’t going to be easy.
“I think I handled (the weather) good,” Webb said. “Every quarterback coach said I did a great job. It was a little difficult, but hey, you’ve got to throw in the rain sometimes. I know a lot of guys would shut it down (in those conditions), but that never crossed my mind.”
Webb was never anything but confident in his ability to produce regardless of the weather conditions, but the results weren’t pretty. The first half of his nearly hourlong stint on the field went poorly, as Webb found himself throwing the ball behind his receivers on short routes and fared no better on the initial portion of his deep throws. One particularly ugly sequence saw him severely underthrow Chad Hansen on a deep comeback before throwing way over the head of Patrick Worstell on the same route, heavily overcompensating for his previous miss. That was topped off by Webb then throwing two steps past a streaking Hansen seconds later. Throwing in the rain is never easy, but Webb looked particularly befuddled, struggling to land at any happy medium approach.
As the rain began to lighten halfway through his time on the field, Webb started to find his groove. He hit Worstell on two deep bombs, similar to ones he had ugly misses on earlier, on his best throws of the day at that point. Unfortunately for him, the balls weren’t getting any less slippery, and his receiver was only having more and more trouble holding onto passes. Webb’s accuracy took a huge leap over the second half of his performance, but every receiver on the field had ugly drops that made the end result less impressive than it otherwise would have been.
“The balls got heavy towards the middle of my workout, so that’s just how it is sometimes,” Webb said. “We should have more footballs out there, but it was a lot of fun to be back here at Cal with my teammates.”
Webb looked to be wrapping up after a brief display of his approach to red-zone passing, but headed back out for a couple more deep throw. He made his best throw of the day on a beautiful arching toss to Worstell — before once again underthrowing Hansen on a streak. But regardless of how it ended, Webb was his usual confident self afterward.
“NFL teams tell me I’m a first-round talent,” Webb said. “I trust those guys, they’re the ones making the picks. But again, that’s out of my control. I’ve had numerous double-digit teams tell me I’m a first-round guy.”
Hansen had a strange day of his own. He showed off his ability to make excellent adjustments on poorly thrown balls while sprinting down field that led to his early-season breakout, but he struggled to bring in zippier short passes. No one was having an easy time handling the wet balls, but his ability to make deep plays wasn’t in question. He needed to show he had NFL-quality hands, and this most likely did little to move the needle on that front. The day, however, was not a wash for Hansen in total — he ran a 40-yard dash in the low 4.4s, a huge improvement over his 4.53 time at the NFL combine.
“As a football player, you’re going to have to play in all the conditions,” Hansen said. “I think that’s what those scouts want to see, see how you perform when things aren’t going your way, and I think we did a good job of that today.”
Khalfani Muhammad, who unlike Hansen and Webb was not invited to the NFL combine, showed off his tantalizing speed, but little else. His 40-yard dash time, somewhere in the 4.34-4.41 range, is based on scouts’ unofficial times; but considering the wet field, it’s a phenomenal figure regardless of where it falls in that range. But if Muhammad is to make it as an NFL player, he would almost certainly need to be a jack-of-all-trades back, catching passes out of the backfield and returning kicks on top of running the ball. He had a few unsightly drops, so if an NFL team ends up taking a gamble on him in the last rounds of the draft or as an undrafted free agent, it will because of his blazing speed.
“I’ve been practicing all year long, I’ve been clocking in at 4.1, 4.2, so I knew I could come out with a fast time,” Muhammad said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t perfect weather, but you know I came in and still showcased what I could do.”