This was supposed to be the week that Nate Longshore sorted through all the possible options. Now, he's hoping for at least one option.
Cal's former quarterback will be watching ESPN this weekend to see if his name is called during the NFL draft.
There was a time when some believed Longshore could be selected during the first day of the draft. But that was before a rocky season-and-a-half that saw his skills deteriorate until he finally lost his starting job. Most projections don't have Longshore being drafted at all, this after he was considered the top junior quarterback in the country going into the 2007 season by ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.
"When you have a kid who is 6-4, 240 pounds and in a system that's conducive to success, you think he's going to put up some numbers," Kiper said. "He just didn't develop. He just didn't show the skill level. That's just the way it is playing the quarterback position. Some develop, some don't."
Longshore believes there is a simple reason for his decline — injuries. He says since spraining his ankle midway through the 2007 season, he hasn't played in a game completely healthy. He played with the ankle injury the rest of the '07 season, then suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle the following spring. He said the effects of that injury lingered all last season.
"I felt like I couldn't do anything nearly to the ability that I should have been able to," he said. "It's hard
Longshore says he finally feels completely healthy and hopes NFL teams will take that into consideration. One NFL scout said Longshore looked good during his pro day workout at Cal last month. Longshore also took part in the 49ers' regional workout Friday.
Longshore's agent, Erik Burkhardt, has been sending teams "before and after" film, illustrating his client's ability when healthy and when not. In 2006, Longshore became just the second Cal quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season, totaling 3,021 yards and 24 touchdowns as the Bears went 10-3 and finished with a No. 14 national ranking.
"I think I'm even better now than I was in 2006," Longshore said. "I've been able to improve on my game and the things I need to get better at. I think (NFL teams) are seeing what I am doing now, and they go back and watch film and see that I've won games and made throws."
Longshore said it's taken some reflection to realize just how much the effects of his injuries contributed to his performance. He said he didn't realize it at the time because he was simply focused on playing through the ailments and planning for the next opponent.
"It's really difficult gauging where your body is at when you're thinking about that play and your reads," Longshore said. "I just didn't feel like I had the chance to understand all that at the time. I just wish I would have understood better at the time what my body was capable of."
Burkhardt says Longshore has received good feedback from four or five teams, including the 49ers, Raiders and Indianapolis. Burkhardt believes Longshore will go in the sixth or seventh round, but he has other options in place as a free-agent training camp invitee.
It is a substantial departure from the beginning of the 2007 season, when Longshore appeared on his way to becoming one of the top quarterbacks in the draft.
"There's no point in getting frustrated over that," Longshore said. "There are a lot of guys in the NFL succeeding now that came in the later rounds or as a free agent. I feel like regardless of where you are taken in the draft, you're on a level playing field once you get into a camp. It's in everybody's best interest to let the best players play."
Contact Jonathan Okanes at email@example.com.