The goal of almost every football player is to make it to the NFL. Even the most naturally gifted athletes spend thousands of hours on the field and in the weight room to impress pro scouts with their dominance on the gridiron. For two NFL hopefuls, former UNC RB Shaun Draughn and former Vanderbilt DE Theron Kadri, now is a pivotal point in their careers—one they hope will lead to roster spots on pro teams.
After a shoulder injury sidelined Draughn in 2009, he rebounded last year, rushing for six touchdowns and being named MVP of the Music City Bowl. Known for his evasive skills, the speedy RB earned himself a Combine invite—an opportunity to show off his impressive talents and set himself up for the NFL Draft.
Kadri will most likely be an undrafted free agent. He is looking to prove his naysayers wrong if given a chance to try out for a team. "I found out that scouts didn't have the best image of me, thinking that I ran a five-second 40," he says. "I know that I can run at least 4.6."
Although the two college standouts are on different paths to the pros, their final preparations brought them together at Athletic Republic Chelsea Piers BlueStreak in New York City. They were drawn there by AR's scientific approach to training. CEO Charlie Graves says, "Athletic Republic is based on trying to create separation by increasing speed and power, and we have the tools that nobody else has to be able to do that."
Jarrod Jordan, AR's Chelsea Piers director, says that Draughn and Kadri are training to improve the same Combine skills, but based on initial assessments and overall performance goals, each has a highly individualized program. Using Athletic Republic's proprietary equipment—such as the Super Treadmill, Plyo Floor, Plyo Press and Multi-Hip Machine—they both spend about three to four hours a day developing speed, strength, power and technique. Adds Graves, "The equipment that we use gives them a documented advantage over anything else they could possibly do."
Draughn, who has already run a 4.42 40, focuses on increasing his speed with the Super Treadmill and AR's video feedback system to refine his sprinting technique. He says, "I feel like I'm improving every week with what I'm doing. At the Combine, I'm looking to get the best times possible, maybe around a 4.3."
Kadri believes that AR's program will help him become a better overall athlete. He has always known he's not the most talented runner, but his form has improved dramatically thanks to Jordan's guidance and visual feedback. "I want to become an exceptional athlete—to the point where I can run a 4.5, have my body fat down to about 12 percent and have [a strong] core," he says.
After months of hard work and dedication, the time for these two athletes to showcase their skills is drawing close. Jordan says, "It's exciting to see people who believe in themselves and are willing to work hard—much harder than I could imagine. They consistently break plateaus and reinvent themselves, even when they are already exceptional athletes to begin with."
The NFL Combine will take place Feb. 23 through March 1.
Photos: Exercise images courtesy of Athlete Republic
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock