Local draft hopefuls mold bodies for NFL life

Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 11:29pm

You will hear plenty familiar names during the three-day, seven-round NFL draft. Years of hard work will pay off for some who have dreamed of being selected by a pro franchise. Others may not hear their name called, but a shot at making a roster doesn’t end there.

There are about 3,000 players to pick from. But there are only about 200 spots to fill.

“The whole grind from the college to the NFL is tough. It’s the toughest year these guys will have,” Mack Chuilli, owner of Traction Center for Sports Excellence said.

He’s been helping several potential picks train and get ready for the NFL since the college season ended.

“We tried to play with their weight. We tried to play with their speed and play with things that will open the eyes of scouts. We know what our goals are for each individual athlete. Each one has different needs,” he added.

Chuilli played a part in LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry’s improved 40-yard-dash time at LSU’s Pro Day. It helped the former Lutcher High School star get his early round value back.

“What makes him a great route runner and a good football player is the same thing that hurts him in the 40. We tried to short and compact he gets in and out of cuts better than anybody,” Chuilli said of Landry. “For him we had to change the way Jarvis ran purely for the test. I didn't want to change the way he ran pass routes. We had to teach him how to run the 40 efficiently to put up the number everyone wanted to see.”

Former LSU Tiger Chris Davenport left Baton Rouge for Tulane. He rejuvenated his career in New Orleans and is back in the capital city in hopes of showing up on a team’s radar.

“After this season was over I was around 347 lbs. Right now, I'm about 328. It's the smallest that I've been in a few years,” Davenport said.

Smaller portioned, healthier meals were a huge challenge for the big guy.

“I'm eating the right things, eliminating the fried (foods) and the sugars,” the leaner Davenport added.

Former Southern quarterback Dray Joseph has already drawn interest from the Canadian Football League. He’s hoping his newly sculpted body will catch the eye of scouts in the NFL.

“I came to Traction at about 205 lbs. and now I am 215. I gained muscle.
I gained a lot of muscle back in my leg which allowed me to be more powerful and quicker,” Joseph told NBC33 News after a workout leading up to the NFL Draft.

He’s a long shot to be drafted. But, getting a shot as a free agent is a possibility.

“We deal with a lot of athletes that are borderline guys that people don't really know about. And they get signed after going undrafted or they get late round draft picks and it may not be big stars but they are part of the 53 man roster,” Chuilli said.

In other words, it’s not how you get there, but what you do with it if you do. 


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