When the NFL Scouting Combine begins Wednesday in Indianapolis, the Oregon Ducks will be represented by five players.
For all intents, though, there will be the equivalent of four full participants from Oregon, with John Boyett coming off knee surgeries and Dion Jordan anticipating shoulder surgery. Among the physical tests administered, Boyett will be limited to the bench press, while Jordan will do everything but.
"As an athlete, it sucks to sit back and watch other guys," Jordan said. "But it's a process, and we both understand what we can do and how talented we are. We've got to be patient."
Boyett, who left Oregon after one game last fall to have his knees operated on, has been reunited with his buddy Jordan in Los Angeles for workouts the past few weeks, along with fellow UO combine invitees Kenjon Barner and Kyle Long. That quartet plus linebacker Kiko Alonso will be in Indianapolis later this week, with Long and the other offensive linemen among the first to report, on Wednesday.
Participants undergo three days of orientation, medical testing and meetings with NFL personnel before taking the field for positional drills and timed events such as the 40-yard dash on their final day. Barner and the other running backs report Thursday, Alonso and Jordan do so Friday and Boyett will report Saturday.
While the on-field work gets the most attention from the public, the medical evaluations and meetings with teams may be more important, and critically so for Boyett and Jordan.
Boyett had both patella tendons repaired last fall, in procedures separated by a few weeks, and hopes to be healthy in time for mini-camps following the NFL draft in late April.
Jordan is waiting until after the combine to undergo surgery to repair a labrum injury he played through over the second half of the 2012 season; recovery time is three to four months, he said, just enough time to get back for training camp in the fall.
Despite the looming surgery, Jordan's draft stock is soaring. Jordan feels he's playing catch-up at the combine compared with prospects healthy enough to have played in a post-season all-star game — also a key draft scouting opportunity — but he's still projected by some analysts to be a top-10 pick, and almost certainly Oregon's first first-round pick since Jonathan Stewart in 2008.
"I like his versatility, I like his athleticism," ESPN analyst Todd McShay said Friday. "The more I see him, the more I like him."
Recruited to Oregon as a receiver or tight end, Jordan excelled after moving to outside linebacker under departed assistant coach Jerry Azzinaro, who heavily influenced the Ducks' move to a 3-4 defense over the past four years. Jordan fits the mold of a hybrid end/linebacker type that is flourishing in the NFL recently.
Jordan said he's most anticipating meetings at the combine with various teams, and proving with a felt pen and whiteboard that he has a grasp of the various schemes employed at the professional level. He said he "feels good" about the drills he'll be able to do, and knows he'll eventually have to answer questions about his upper-body strength, both because of his surgery and his long, lean frame.
"I don't think it will be an issue," Jordan said. "I understand I'm going to have to get stronger. The weight will come as I get older and continue to mature. "… Being 6-foot-7, leverage plays a big role in what I do. As I get stronger, and I learn how to play with leverage, it will work itself out."
Jordan was injured last fall in Oregon's win over Colorado. He had just 11 tackles in the Ducks' final four games, missing one completely and also the second half of the Fiesta Bowl. He was also held out of potential contact situations in practice.
"I wanted to be out there with my guys every day at practice," Jordan said. "It limited me as far as what I was able to do as far as preparing. Not being out there, that part sucked. But I had to take a different route to get ready for games."
Jordan at least was around his teammates throughout the fall. Having been assured by doctors his knees would need to be repaired before he went pro, Boyett decided to pass up the bulk of his senior season.
"I missed it a lot," Boyett said last week. "It was very tough to sit there and not be out there battling with the guys I worked out with."
He'll be sidelined again this week at the combine. But Boyett intends to be back at full speed by the start of mini-camps.
As the combine approaches, Boyett is doing upper-body work with his former UO teammates and then lower-body rehabilitation with a physical therapist.
"I just want to make sure I get healed up," Boyett said of his cautious approach to the combine. "I'm not trying to impress somebody and then have that hurt me in the long run. "… They know I can play football; they can see the film. I just need to show them I'm on track for being 100 percent."
Before his injury, Boyett was considered a mid-round pick by McShay, and had a fifth-round projection from Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. Now, Miller projects Boyett as a seventh-round pick, if he's drafted at all.
"The key for him is obviously showing he's healthy, but then being able to run and move around some," Miller said.
"Surgery to both knees is a little unprecedented, so it will be interesting to see how he looks over the next three months. "… Some loss of speed is expected, and with his instincts and size I wouldn't rule out a move to strong safety once in the NFL."
Said McShay: "He doesn't have elite athleticism or speed, but his intangibles, his instincts, his ball skills and his ability to support the run are all in the good to exceptional range. Then it just comes down to what you think he can do in coverage."
Boyett has confidence in his ability to defend the pass, as well as the run.
"A lot of people are either down safeties or deep safeties," he said. "Nowadays safeties have to be able to play multiple roles, and if you can only play one it hurts the integrity of the defense, with disguises and such. But I can play down, I can play deep. That's one of my strengths."
Teams considering Boyett for a draft pick will rely on film for proof of that, as he opts this week not to risk a return from his knee surgeries too soon.
"I know I'll be 100 percent for camps," Boyett said. "And going into this, that's what I cared about, making sure I was 100 percent next season. Obviously I'd love to be able to show them I'm 100 percent at pro day or some time before the draft. But, really, all I care about is playing football."