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Diary of an NFL Draft Underdog, Part II: The Pro Day Awaits

Part I: Diary of an NFL Draft Underdog: Justin Perillo

In Part I, we introduced you to Justin Perillo, a tight end from Maine. In Part II we build up to the biggest day of his life – his Pro Day at the University of Maine.

Things moved rapidly for Justin Perillo after receiving a scholarship offer from Maine in 2009. In 2011, the redshirt sophomore started 12 games and was 2nd team All-CAA, catching 51 passes. During his junior season in 2012, his coach, Jack Cosgrove called him in for a meeting: You’ve improved so much since arriving here, you could play in the NFL like another former Maine tight end, Matthew Mulligan. Perillo was 1st team All-CAA in 2012. In 2013, Perillo’s season highlight was catching eight passes for 81 yards and a touchdown against undefeated Northwestern, which was ranked 18th at the time. The Black Bears lost, 35-21, but NFL teams took notice.

Perillo’s versatility – he long-snapped at his pro day, and can put his hand in the dirt as an H-Back – makes him attractive to teams, but he doesn’t have the size (he’s 6-foot-3) of the NFL’s premier tight ends (Graham, Jordan Cameron, etc).

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Eight tight ends were taken in the first four rounds of the 2013 draft; 16 total were drafted. In March, Perillo and his agent thought the key to where he’d go in the draft was hugely dependent on how he ran the 40, which he endlessly prepared for in March.

Jordan Reed (6-foot-2, 235 pounds), a converted high school QB who attended Florida, was smaller than Perillo, but a better athlete and was drafted in the 3rd round in 2013. Mychal Rivera (6-3, 245) was nearly the exact same size as Perillo and ran a 4.78 40. He went in the 6th round to the Raiders.

In the 2012 draft, seven tight ends were taken in the first four rounds, and 11 total were selected.

If Perillo could run in the 4.7’s at his Pro Day, his chances of going in the mid-late rounds would be greatly enhanced.

Part III will explore his Pro Day.

[Video credits: Jessica Gagne, Kwanza Gooden, Michael Shamburger and the University of Maine.]

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