Football

East Carolina’s Shane Carden answers NFL scouts’ questions at pro day

East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden (5) and wide receiver Justin Hardy (2) walk off the field after East Carolina's 70-41 victory over North Carolina at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014.
East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden (5) and wide receiver Justin Hardy (2) walk off the field after East Carolina's 70-41 victory over North Carolina at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. ehyman@newsobserver.com

For the past few months, questions surrounding Shane Carden’s NFL potential have swirled around him like stripes on a candy cane. On Thursday, the former Pirates quarterback got a chance to answer some of them during East Carolina’s pro day.

Carden, who threw for 4,736 yards and 30 touchdowns to be named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year in 2014, acknowledged he had a lot to prove to the 32 NFL teams that were represented on Thursday.

“I just wanted to show that I’m a thrower,” Carden said. “I can drop under center. I can adapt. I can change. I’ve had two quarterback coaches with two different styles since the combine. I’ve been working with a quarterback coach who has been teaching me new things and changing my motion a little bit, which is hard for any type of thrower, whether it be baseball or football or anything.”

After last season, Carden began training with former Heisman-winning quarterback Chris Weinke, until he was hired by the St. Louis Rams to be their quarterbacks coach.

Carden then turned to another former Heisman-winning passer, Vinny Testaverde, who immediately began to tinker with Carden’s mechanics.

“It all starts from the ground up, and if your feet aren’t in the right place and in the right position, it’s hard to be accurate,” Testaverde said. “You can get away with it, especially in college, but once you’re at the next level, there are some very tight windows. You have to be very accurate.

“When I first saw (Carden), I said, ‘It looks like you’re almost trying to throw a javelin; you got that left arm pointing straight out.’ But, when you see him today, it’s a different guy. If you didn’t know it was Shane Carden, you would never guess that it is.”

At least one AFC scout agreed. Speaking off the record, the scout said he noticed Carden had more of an over-the-top delivery, though he did say that at times, Carden reverted back to his old habits.

Carden, who had to wait nearly two hours to throw because of a rain delay, felt positive about his performance.

“I thought it went good,” Carden said. “There were some conditions we couldn’t control. There were some deep balls that just weren’t connecting. … But, overall I thought I did a good job.”

Former ECU wide receiver Justin Hardy, who like Carden also got an invite to the NFL Combine, said the changes in Carden’s delivery were noticeable.

“Oh, definitely,” Hardy said. “Once you get with a guy like Testaverde, he’s going to teach you everything. You could see the difference on his drop-backs, how the ball releases from his hands and all of those things. … He’s definitely more over the top. His release point is different.”

Hardy, like Carden, came to ECU’s pro day looking to prove a thing or two to NFL scouts. For the 5-foot-10, 192-pound wideout who rose from walk-on status to become the leading receiver in FBS history, his hands were never really in question, but his speed was.

Hardy, a 2014 All-ACC first-teamer, ran a 4.56 40-yard dash at the combine and on Thursday felt he improved his time.

“I wanted to show that I could run a faster 40, and I feel that I did. Somebody today told me they clocked me at 4.4,” Hardy said. “(Speed) was one of the main things I wanted to prove.”

The duo will find out just how well they answered questions about their game on April 30, when the NFL Draft begins.

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