Pro Day notebook: Adams hopes to keep following Morse's footsteps
Most of the 60-plus NFL scouts, representing all 32 teams, who flocked to the Devine Pavilion for Missouri’s pro day Thursday came to watch one player. Quarterback Drew Lock, the Tigers’ starter for the past four seasons and a projected first-round draft pick, threw a variety of routes on the field then held court with television reporters from NFL Network, ESPN and local media afterward.
But blending in with the crowd of friends, family and media members was a surprise guest, present to cheer on a different player: former tackle Paul Adams.
Mitch Morse, who recently signed a massive contract with the Buffalo Bills that will make him the NFL’s highest-paid center, was assigned to Adams as his “big brother” by the team in 2014, his senior season and Adams’ first on the team(Adams redshirted that year). The two forged a strong bond, and Adams said he’s looked up to Morse ever since. Earlier this week, he was surprised to receive a text from Morse saying Morse was coming to Columbia to support Adams for Thursday’s pro day. Adams was touched by the gesture.
“I mean, a guy like that taking time out of his day to drive up to just watch me for 15 or so minutes, that just speaks volumes of his character and who he is,” Adams said.
Morse’s attire didn’t give it away — he wore a pair of jeans, a Missouri t-shirt and a Missouri zip-up jacket — but he made news last week by signing a four-year deal with the Bills worth $44.5 million. Adams joked that he could feel the money “vibrating” off of Morse.
“I was like taking a picture with him, my mom was like, ‘you’re right next to a lot of money,’” Adams said. “I was like, I know, I can feel it right now.”
So far, Adams has followed remarkably closely in Morse’s footsteps. He hopes that this spring he can begin an NFL career that will beget similar success as Morse’s.
Morse played at Missouri from 2010 to 2014, starting at tackle in each of his final three seasons. The Kansas City Chiefs drafted him with the No. 49 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Morse quickly transitioned from tackle to center, where he started much of the past three seasons, only missing time due to injuries.
Adams started each of the past three seasons at right tackle for Missouri, but he has taken a cue from Morse: He’s open to playing any position on the offensive line at the NFL level, including center. Adams participated in some center drills during his workout Thursday. He said he hasn’t talked specifically with NFL representatives about where he might fit on an offensive line there, but he’s open to any spot.
“It kind of just shows versatility as an offensive lineman,” Adams said. “I think it’s something that’s extremely good to have in your back pocket, just in case.”
Adams participated in the NFL Combine earlier this spring, from Feb. 26 through March 4. He isn’t likely to be drafted as high as Morse, but he believes he has performed well both at the Combine and, Thursday, “showed it wasn’t just some kind of fluke.” He has meetings scheduled with the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans this week.
Blanton drawing interest
Like Adams, tight end Kendall Blanton is hoping to hear his name called on the last day of the NFL Draft. Blanton, too, attended in the Combine earlier this spring and only participated in position drills Thursday, but he did get a chance to catch passes from Lock, with every scout in attendance watching.
Blanton mishandled a couple of passes, but he said it was nice to have a quarterback he was used to throwing him passes, versus a passer he has never worked with before, as was the case at the Combine.
“It’s not too many quarterbacks like (Lock) in the league, or especially in college football,” Blanton said. “I mean, you all saw what he can do, you saw it the last four years, and being back with him is a little bit easier than going out with some other guys.”
Blanton said he has private workouts scheduled with both the Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins this week. He weighed in at 262 pounds Thursday, and he said he hopes to show teams that he can serve as both a reliable blocker and receiver.
“I’m comfortable blocking, comfortable being in line and doing whatever, special teams, whatever they need me to do,” Blanton said.
Blanton said he doesn’t yet have a firm idea of where he might land in the NFL Draft, or if he will hear his name called at all. Regardless, he should get an opportunity with an NFL team in training camp.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Blanton said.”I just want to hear my name called and then go from there.”
Terez Hall battling another injury
Linebacker Terez Hall played all 12 games for Missouri last season, but since his college career ended, he’s had to battle an unfortunate string of injuries. Hall injured his pectoral muscle while doing the bench press at the NFL Combine. He characterized the injury as a “sprain” and said he’s fully recovered, but he didn’t participate in the bench press Thursday.
Instead, during his first attempt at the 40-yard dash, Hall came up limping and said he injured his Achilles. The severity of the injury is not yet known, but Hall was able to walk off the field.
“I was running the last 15 yards, just kind of stumbled, kind of got me,” Hall explained.
As a result of the injury, Hall didn’t participate in the linebacker drills. At this point, Hall hasn’t yet gotten an indication of whether the injuries will impact his draft stock. He’s adopted a wait-and-see approach, saying multiple times that his future is in God’s hands now.
“Whatever happens five weeks from now, that’s going to happen,” Hall said. “I hope it happens the way I want it to happen, but it’s a blessing just to do what I gotta do.”
• Thursday represented the first chance for running back Damarea Crockett to participate in tests for NFL scouts. Crockett, who declared for the draft following his junior season, weighed in at 226 pounds and recorded an impressive 37-inch vertical. He also participated in the bench press, 40-yard dash and position drills, but his results from those drills were not publicized. Crockett declined to do interviews.
• Former punter Corey Fatony worked out for scouts from 12 teams Thursday. The four-year college starter has added a new skill to his arsenal in an effort to make himself more appealing to professional teams: kicking off. Fatony never kicked off in college — placekicker Tucker McCann handled those duties — but he said his agent and several coaches advised him to try it out. “The more versatile you are, the better off you are,” he said.
• Wide receiver Emanuel Hall sat out much of Thursday’s activities, only running routes and catching passes from Lock, but he did make one of the more impressive grabs of the day, securing a pass that was thrown behind him with one hand as he slid to the ground. Hall, too, did not participate in interviews, but his participation Thursday should assuage some of the concerns about his sports hernia. He discussed the injury on last week’s podcast.