Over the past few months, numerous Pitt football players have been preparing for the 2018 NFL draft, which will be held from April 26th through April 28th. To learn more about their journeys, Pittsburgh Sports Now has reached out to some of the players who may hear their names called on draft weekend.
Today, we speak with Jester Weah, the Panthers’ leading receiver in each of the past two seasons.
PSN: Your draft stock has been on the rise since January, starting with your performance at the East-West Shrine Game. Throughout the week, you established yourself as one of the top offensive performers in attendance. Can you talk about your performance, and what you were able to show NFL scouts?
JW: My performance at the East-West Shrine Game went pretty well. I went into that week trying – I had the mindset – to be the best every day in practice, with hopefully that leading into the game. With each practice I thought I got better, as the days went on. I mean, I had a lot of fun down there, as well. And I thought my performance showed that.
My main thing was trying to show NFL teams that I can run crisp routes – I can get in and out of my breaks as quick as I can – and just be overall a big, dominant receiver for my size.
PSN: You carried the momentum from the Shrine Game into the NFL combine. At 6-feet-3-inches and 210 pounds, you ran an impressive 4.43 40-yard dash and registered 38 inches in the vertical jump. Now, there is a belief out there that combine testing can be overrated, but how do you – as someone who tested very well – think your times and measurables have influenced your draft stock?
JW: I thought my times and my jumping ability showed that I’m very athletic. I’m a very athletic receiver, and throughout training, I had that mindset to get 2-percent, 3-percent better each day, as Coach Narduzzi would always harp on. And I thought the results paid off.
PSN: The combine is about much more than athleticism. How would you assess your performances in the interviews and receiver drills?
JW: I thought I performed pretty well in the interviews. I answered each and every question that was asked of me, and I thought it went pretty smooth.
As far as receiver drills, I thought I did really well there, too; I didn’t struggle with anything, as far as I can remember. I thought I made the most of my opportunity there.
PSN: Where, and with whom, have you been training for the NFL?
JW: I’ve been training down in Pensacola, Florida at the EXOS facility down there.
PSN: Tell me about your training. What kind of hours are you putting in, and what type of work are you doing?
JW: We work about six days a week, two times each day. On Monday and Fridays, we focus on linear work; you know, 40-yard dash and stuff like that. On Tuesday and Thursdays, we work on directional movement, which is playing part to the 3-cone and short shuttle. And we had a position coach, Coach Buddy Geis, who would come in three times a week and work with quarterbacks and receivers on route running, different routes we would run at the combine, and just board work with trying to read different coverages and being comfortable with drawing up different plays.
PSN: What was the one area in which you needed to improve before the draft, and have you improved in that area to your satisfaction?
JW: The one area that I thought needs improvement for the draft was just my route running – trying to run clean, crisp routes, and trying to get in and out of my breaks as fast as I can. And just show all these teams that I’m more than just a vertical receiver. I thought I did pretty well [at that], especially at my pro day.
PSN: Have you been in contact with NFL teams?
JW: I would say the Rams, the Chargers, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers … and Denver Broncos.
PSN: What are your expectations for draft weekend? Do you know where you may be selected?
JW: As far as now, I do not know where I will be selected, but I hope it’s pretty high. I thought my film this past year is pretty good. I thought my performance throughout the all-star week and the combine, even my pro day, definitely helped a lot to improve my stock. So hopefully pretty high. But we’ll see. Only time will tell.
PSN: What will you be doing for the draft? Do you have any plans?
JW: I’ll be with my close family, my immediate family, back home in Madison, Wisconsin just waiting for that call to experience that special moment with them.
PSN: Aside from your trainers, are there any other individuals who deserve credit for helping you through the draft process?
JW: A few former teammates: Nathan Peterman, Adam Bisnowaty, and one of my best friends, James Conner. Throughout this whole process, whenever I had questions, I’d always ask them. And they’re just a phone call or a text away, and they’re very helpful. They made this whole process feel smooth. I’m extremely thankful for them.