Former Cal defensive back Chris Conte's draft position is so solid that he could have declined to participate at Cal's Pro Timing Day on Wednesday.

Yes, the same Chris Conte who didn't become a starter until his senior season is now entrenched as an NFL draft pick.

Conte decided to go through most of the tests and drills anyway Wednesday because, as he put it, "I'm a football player." His results were on par with his performance at the NFL scouting combine last month, so no harm done.

"If I can go out there and impress some people, I'm going to do everything I can to impress them," Conte said.

Personnel evaluators from every NFL team were on hand at Witter Rugby Field to watch several former Cal players run through a handful of timed tests and position workouts. Conte is one of four Cal players expected to be selected in next month's draft. The others are defensive end Cameron Jordan, tailback Shane Vereen and linebacker Mike Mohamed.

Conte was the only one of the four to participate in the timed tests. The others joined him for position drills. Other players from the 2010 Cal team to perform Wednesday included quarterback Kevin Riley, wide receiver Jeremy Ross, nose tackle Derrick Hill and cornerback Darian Hagan.


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Conte's story is an improbable one. Other than a few starts at cornerback as a freshman, he was strictly a reserve his first three seasons at Cal. But the Bears moved him to safety last season, and he was an All-Pac-10 first-team selection.

Conte believes there are some advantages to the late blooming nature of his college career.

"In one year, I became All-Pac-10 first team. So it shows I can pick it up really fast and I have so much room to grow," said Conte, who's projected as a middle-to-late-round draft pick.

Wednesday provided a perfect stage for Ross. His 40-yard time of 4.39 seconds Wednesday would have placed him in a tie for third among wide receivers at the combine. Ross isn't expected to be drafted but should garner interest as a free agent, assuming the NFL resolves its labor dispute.

"Coming out here is a great opportunity to showcase what I can do in person and do whatever they want to see," said Ross, who had 18 catches for 210 yards in 2010.