DE Corey Wootton: ‘Looking forward to getting back’

Corey Wootton may have some versatility when it comes to playing in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme in the NFL.
Corey Wootton may have some versatility when it comes to playing in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme in the NFL.

On Northwestern’s football website, defensive end Corey Wootton calls dealing with injuries his most humbling experience. He now says the ankle, knee and quadriceps problems that plagued him the last year-and-a-half have healed, and he proved it Monday to 29 NFL scouts with a strong performance at the school’s pro day. Wootton spoke with Sporting News‘ Dave Curtis and other reporters after his workout.

Q: How nerve-wracking was this day for you?
A: A little bit. I didn’t participate in the Combine. I didn’t do our last pro day. So I think it was all on the line today. And I think I did a pretty good job. I wish I could have run a little better, but you know, I was looking forward today and did a pretty good job. (Note: Wootton said he was hoping to run in the 4.8-range; Northwestern officials later released that the average of his two 40-yard dashes was 4.92 seconds.)

Q: Have scouts told you what round you should be drafted in?
A: Not really. We just talk about schemes and where they think I would fit, but nothing about round predictions.

Q: Where do you fit?
A: Well, some teams want me to line up over the tackle and play an end in a 3-4 scheme. They know I can be a 4-3 end. Some people think I can be a rush linebacker in a 3-4, a standup player. So I was doing some DB drills out there today. But there are three different possibilities for me.

Q: How much linebacker stuff have you ever done?
A: We’ve done stuff like that here, dropping (into coverage) from down in a stance. It’s something I like to do.

Q: When you’re getting ready to run a 40-yard dash, what goes through your head?
A: Just thinking, ‘Get out,’ and try to run as fast as I can. And hope for the best.

Q: Is a second-round pick realistic for you?
A: I’m hoping for it. You always hope for the best. You hope for the first round and that I impressed some people enough to do that. But you never know on draft day. You can go higher than expected, lower than expected. You just have to hope for the best.

Q: What kind of feedback did you get Monday?
A: They felt like I did a good job without the knee brace because I played with a brace all season. They thought my change of direction was good. And I’m still improving the strength in my legs and trying to get that right. I felt about 90 percent today. So I’ve got 10 percent to go. I’m just looking forward to getting that back.

Q: What are your plans for draft day, April 22?
A: I’ll be on the couch with my parents in New Jersey. Just hanging out.

Q: How odd has it to be poked and prodded the way you have? I think I saw one guy out there stretching you out.
A: I expected that. They’re going to make a million-dollar investment in you, so they want to know everything about you, your flexibility and your injuries. I would do the same if I was a head coach or a G.M.

Q: What did you show those people today?
A: I showed them I’m a lot healthier than I was during the season. I showed I could move around well without the brace and had good change-of-direction. They know I have a little bit left, and I’ll have it back by next season.

Q: Given your history, what kind of health concerns do you have going forward?
A: I don’t feel I have any. It’s just the strength of the leg. My knee is structurally fine. My ankle is fine. It’s just getting back that strength, and I believe I’ll be ready for next season.

Q: Do you fight a mental block about getting hurt again?
A: No. I’m past that point. It’s just the strength, and once I get that back I’ll be an even better player than I was when I was healthy two years ago.

Q: Any second thoughts about how you handled the past few months and not playing in the Senior Bowl or running at the Combine?
A: Not at all. The Senior Bowl, I thought a good decision for me to stick to workouts and get my leg strength up. That’s what I need to do to get better. The Combine, I wasn’t ready to run because I tweaked my quad. I warmed up, but I felt like I was going to pull it. So I thought it was best to wait until today.

Q: When you explain that reasoning to scouts, how do they respond?
A: They were understanding. They know what I’ve been through. They’re amazed I even played this season.

Corey Wootton may have some versatility when it comes to playing in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme in the NFL.
Corey Wootton may have some versatility when it comes to playing in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme in the NFL.

On Northwestern’s football website, defensive end Corey Wootton calls dealing with injuries his most humbling experience. He now says the ankle, knee and quadriceps problems that plagued him the last year-and-a-half have healed, and he proved it Monday to 29 NFL scouts with a strong performance at the school’s pro day. Wootton spoke with Sporting News‘ Dave Curtis and other reporters after his workout.

Q: How nerve-wracking was this day for you?
A: A little bit. I didn’t participate in the Combine. I didn’t do our last pro day. So I think it was all on the line today. And I think I did a pretty good job. I wish I could have run a little better, but you know, I was looking forward today and did a pretty good job. (Note: Wootton said he was hoping to run in the 4.8-range; Northwestern officials later released that the average of his two 40-yard dashes was 4.92 seconds.)

Q: Have scouts told you what round you should be drafted in?
A: Not really. We just talk about schemes and where they think I would fit, but nothing about round predictions.

Q: Where do you fit?
A: Well, some teams want me to line up over the tackle and play an end in a 3-4 scheme. They know I can be a 4-3 end. Some people think I can be a rush linebacker in a 3-4, a standup player. So I was doing some DB drills out there today. But there are three different possibilities for me.

Q: How much linebacker stuff have you ever done?
A: We’ve done stuff like that here, dropping (into coverage) from down in a stance. It’s something I like to do.

Q: When you’re getting ready to run a 40-yard dash, what goes through your head?
A: Just thinking, ‘Get out,’ and try to run as fast as I can. And hope for the best.

Q: Is a second-round pick realistic for you?
A: I’m hoping for it. You always hope for the best. You hope for the first round and that I impressed some people enough to do that. But you never know on draft day. You can go higher than expected, lower than expected. You just have to hope for the best.

Q: What kind of feedback did you get Monday?
A: They felt like I did a good job without the knee brace because I played with a brace all season. They thought my change of direction was good. And I’m still improving the strength in my legs and trying to get that right. I felt about 90 percent today. So I’ve got 10 percent to go. I’m just looking forward to getting that back.

Q: What are your plans for draft day, April 22?
A: I’ll be on the couch with my parents in New Jersey. Just hanging out.

Q: How odd has it to be poked and prodded the way you have? I think I saw one guy out there stretching you out.
A: I expected that. They’re going to make a million-dollar investment in you, so they want to know everything about you, your flexibility and your injuries. I would do the same if I was a head coach or a G.M.

Q: What did you show those people today?
A: I showed them I’m a lot healthier than I was during the season. I showed I could move around well without the brace and had good change-of-direction. They know I have a little bit left, and I’ll have it back by next season.

Q: Given your history, what kind of health concerns do you have going forward?
A: I don’t feel I have any. It’s just the strength of the leg. My knee is structurally fine. My ankle is fine. It’s just getting back that strength, and I believe I’ll be ready for next season.

Q: Do you fight a mental block about getting hurt again?
A: No. I’m past that point. It’s just the strength, and once I get that back I’ll be an even better player than I was when I was healthy two years ago.

Q: Any second thoughts about how you handled the past few months and not playing in the Senior Bowl or running at the Combine?
A: Not at all. The Senior Bowl, I thought a good decision for me to stick to workouts and get my leg strength up. That’s what I need to do to get better. The Combine, I wasn’t ready to run because I tweaked my quad. I warmed up, but I felt like I was going to pull it. So I thought it was best to wait until today.

Q: When you explain that reasoning to scouts, how do they respond?
A: They were understanding. They know what I’ve been through. They’re amazed I even played this season.

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