Rob Gronkowski's workout Saturday improved his draft stock/Tucson Citizen photo
Rob Gronkowski had just finished the three-cone drill, headed for a break on the sideline, when he uttered, confidently, “The beast is back, baby.”
The former Arizona tight end worked out Saturday on campus, his all-important first audition in front of pro scouts — 25 of them, representing 22 teams. At stake was a potential first-round selection and lots of money.
Not only did Gronkowski have to run fast times and show good hands and be flexible and all that stuff, but he absolutely needed to do what he could to counter a report from NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who said Wednesday that Gronkowski has spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spine.
Like Gronk said, the beast is back.
He worked out for three hours and posted the kind of 40-yard dash times that affirms his status as a physical freak. After the first of his two 40s — he was clocked in 4.65 seconds with the wind, in the low 4.7s against it — his exuberant agent Drew Rosenhaus ran over and slapped his hand, gave him hugs and must have been calculating how much his client’s stock was rising.
“I’m ecstatic,” Rosenhaus said. “Rob put on a show. He is the premiere tight end in the draft and he’s going to be the first player drafted at his position, and he fully demonstrated that today.”
Check out video of parts of Rosenhaus’ interview at FoxSportsArizona.com
Gronkowski is considered one of the top two most talented tight ends in the draft, the other being Oklahoma’s Jermaine Gresham, who, like Gronkowski, missed all of last season. Gresham had a knee injury.
Naturally, Rosenhaus enthusiastically touted his client, saying he is hearing Gronkowski could go as high as the mid first-round. Tight ends are rarely selected any higher than that.
“Without exaggeration, Rob put on a show,” Rosenhaus said.
“He was spectacular in his times. He was brilliant in his routes. He demonstrated his is healthy. He is clearly the No. 1 tight end in the draft.
“I couldn’t be happier for Rob in his performance because he came out here for three hours and worked his tail off and showed all these teams that he is healthy and 100 percent ready to go and be the top tight end in the draft. …
“Rob Gronkowski is a complete tight end,” Rosenhaus added. “He can catch and block, and not everyone can say that.”
Now, about that back …
Rosenhaus flatly denied that Gronkowski has stenosis, a condition that shortened the career of NFL Pro Bowl offensive linemen Chris Samuels and is cited as a reason why former Auburn star offensive tackle Marcus McNeill slid to the second round in the 2006 draft.
NFLDraftScout.com reported Friday that a scout with an NFL team had confirmed that Gronkowski has been “red-flagged” by teams due to a spinal condition.
Gronkowski, who missed the 2009 season for the Wildcats, underwent a microdiscectomy on his back Sept. 24.
“Every team I have talked to says there are no concerns about his back,” Rosenhaus said.
“He passed his physical at the combine. There are no red flags on him. He is ready to go. The back is not a factor. He had an injury. He had surgery to correct it. He had the best back doctor in the world in Robert Watkins, who has cleared him by the way. So has Dr. James Andrews.
“There’s no issue.”
Gronkowski, checking in at 6-foot-6 and 258 pounds, has been pointing toward this day ever since he declared in mid-January that he was leaving early for the NFL Draft. He was unable to work out at the combine and skipped Arizona’s pro day on March 12 because he needed the extra time to be ready.
“I have been waiting for this day for a while now,” Gronkowski said.
“I have been training in Miami for about two months, every single day. I believe I came out here and everything went great. I have proved my back is no issue. I performed every single thing they wanted me to with no problem.”
According to NFL.com, Gronkowski had a 33 1/2-inch vertical jump, a 9-foot, 11-inch broad jump, a 4.47-second short shuttle and a 7.18-second three-cone drill.
He caught passes from former Salpointe High School and Hawaii quarterback Tyler Graunke, and performed blocking drills against his brother Chris, who is considered a late-round prospect as a fullback/H-back.
“I ran the time I wanted to, and I was feeling great out there,” Rob Gronkowski said. “I knew the hard work would pay off in the end.”
It could pay off with a first-round selection.