MADISON––Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson didn't come to the University of Wisconsin's pro day workout on Wednesday just because it was a convenient two-hour jaunt from Green Bay.
It was because Wisconsin had a plethora of talent about to make their living on Sundays in the very near future.
"I would say since I've been here, it's not just because they're in our home state," said Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema.
With two players possibly going in round one of the upcoming NFL Draft in tackle Gabe Carimi and J.J. Watt, two more that might go on day two in guard John Moffitt and tight end Lance Kendricks and three more invited to the NFL Combine in quarterback Scott Tolzien, running back John Clay and cornerback Niles Brinkley, Carimi summed up the attention pretty well.
"I think it's because we had a pretty good class that came out this year," said Carimi. "So there's a lot of potential.
"The Steelers talked to me and John beforehand. It was all really good stuff. They really like how they do linemen here."
In addition to McCarthy and Thompson, Wisconsin's pro day drew Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Bears coordinators Mike Tice and Mike Martz in addition to a slew of scouts from other NFL teams. Tice's son, Nate, is a quarterback for Wisconsin's football team.
According to team apparel, representatives from the Redskins, Giants, Chiefs, Jets, Cardinals and Ravens were present among others.
"This class speaks volumes about the program and Bret Bielema," said McCarthy.
Most of the players who were invited to the Combine two weeks ago stood on their numbers from Indianapolis, although they all took part in position drills.
During one of the few measured drills he actually participated in, Carimi tweaked his ankle during the 20-yard shuttle.
Not satisfied with his shuttle at the Combine, Carimi traveled back to Arizona to work with his trainers to improve upon his time.
"I came out here, ran a pretty good time, tweaked it while I did it, though, so I didn't run any more after that," said Carimi. "Then I kind of taped it up and went through position drills with it hurting a little bit."
Carimi re-aggravated the ankle he sprained during practice the week of the Senior Bowl that prevented him from playing in the game, although he said it wasn't as bad as his sprain in Mobile.
Attention also centered on Clay, who attempted to improve on his disappointing 40 time at the Combine.
Clay attributed his slow 40 time to a recent drastic weight loss.
"Some people wouldn't understand that losing over 35 pounds in five weeks can really send a shock to your system, especially me as a running back running constantly, not being able to adjust to my lower weight than I was at 250," said Clay.
Following a season in which his team won a share of the Big Ten title and a berth in the Rose Bowl, Bielema was amused by having both the coach and the general manager of the Super Bowl champions attend his players.
"It's pretty cool," said Bielema. "They were in my office earlier too, that was pretty neat."
The Packers' brain trust picked the brain of the Wisconsin head coach.
"Yeah, just asking questions and developed a nice relationship with Ted," said Bielema. "It was probably half shooting the breeze and the other half they were asking some pretty specific questions. But it's always interesting to see how each coach or each organization, how they ask questions and why they ask questions."
Thompson, in particular, stands out to Bielema among NFL general managers.
"Coach McCarthy's been down here a couple times," said Bielmea, "but no one, no G.M., comes in and takes as much time to go over film as Ted Thompson."
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