STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Mike Gesicki is making the most of his months-long audition for an NFL job. The former Penn State tight end, who owns several Nittany Lions positional records, took another step in the process Tuesday afternoon, working through routes while surrounded by a bevy of league talent evaluators.
The 6-foot-5, 254-pound draft prospect sent his stock soaring earlier this month during the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Gesicki topped tight ends at the event with his results in the 40-yard dash (4.54 seconds), broad jump (10 feet, 9 inches) and vertical leap (41.5 inches).
He let those test numbers speak for themselves entering Penn State’s pro day on Tuesday, opting to only compete in pass-catching drills. Gesicki, who collected 129 receptions for 1,481 yards and 15 touchdowns as a Nittany Lions player, showcased reliable hands, a dynamic downfield presence, and an ability to adjust for challenging grabs.
Audible “oohs and “aahs” could be heard from a vast collection of NFL scouts tasked with finding their franchise’s next difference-makers.
This latest performance, highlighted in the video below, should only increase the intrigue surrounding Gesicki.
After testing off the charts at the NFL combine, he ran through drills Tuesday in front of scouts from all 32 NFL teams. pic.twitter.com/CZub3XH09q
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) March 20, 2018
The former Southern Regional (Manahawkin, N.J.) star, who initially committed to Bill O’Brien before signing with Penn State one month after James Franklin’s arrival, views each of these chances to impress as a stepping-stone toward his ultimate goal.
“Starting off with training in Pensacola, Fla. [immediately after the season],” Gesicki said. “Moving on to the Senior Bowl in Alabama. That was a great opportunity to compete against the best of the best in college football. Then moving on to the combine, and I knew in my mind I was going to go in there and jump high, run fast, and all that kind of stuff. I was able to make the most of my opportunities, and maximize one more [Tuesday] at pro day.”
For the second time in three weeks, he delivered in front of a crowd that will help determine the next phase of his football career. Efforts in Indianapolis served ample evidence of the elite athleticism people have come to expect while following him in Happy Valley and southern New Jersey.
“It’s peaking at the right time,” he said. “You’re getting the buzz heading toward the draft, but at the end of the day I’ve just got to get one team to fall in love with me. A team that’s like ‘Alright, we have a vision for him. We’re going to use him here and here.’ That’s what I’m trying to build moving forward.”
Plenty of draft prognosticators are attempting to project which team that will be.
CBS Sports has him landing with the Atlanta Falcons (No. 26 overall) or the Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 29), depending on which analyst you buy into. NFL.com points toward the Minnesota Vikings (No. 30). Many in Gesicki’s hometown hope he ends up with the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 32).
NFL roster moves via trades and free agency routinely alter dynamics. As Gesicki notes, “100 percent of these mock drafts are always wrong”, and he’s trying to avoid venturing too far into those predictions.
“I’ve been keeping up with everything but honestly there’s not a point to it because at the end of the day when your phone rings on April 26, if it’s time to go it’s time to go,” he said.
Gesicki, who tied for the Penn State lead with 9 touchdown receptions in 2017, said he’s met with all 32 NFL teams. Those interactions range from playbook studies to non-football conversations with coaches, general managers and other front office personnel.
Though physical attributes resulted in recent headlines, Gesicki believes his strongest impression is made off the field.
“I think the thing [I’m] best at is in meetings with the coaches, GMs, owners. I’m just myself,” he said. “I’m going to go in there, joke around and be me, because at the end of the day that’s exactly what you’re going to get. I’m not going to put on a show or act like I’m somebody that I’m not.”
Gesicki will remain in State College for an upcoming stretch of training. A family gathering in New Jersey is planned for the NFL draft, an experience that could last a few hours or multiple days depending on how franchises assess his value.
He’s spent this offseason providing glimpses of potential stardom as a weapon in the passing game, but Gesicki wants to earn respect as a well-rounded tight end. Ultimately, he’ll march toward that aspiration on Sundays this autumn.
“Everybody wants to talk about how I can stretch the field, high-point the football, be a weapon in the red zone, and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “But another thing I know I can do — and there’s been a lot of criticism on it — I can be in on third and short, I can block, and I can do everything that’s asked from the tight end position. I’m excited, wherever I’m going, to get into camp and just prove myself.”