Alex Hoffman-Ellis ponders this strange question.
Down time? What is that, again?
“I’ll hang out with friends and stuff, and I’ll go to the beach,” the former Washington State linebacker said via telephone from Los Angeles on Wednesday. “Even that’s mostly for working out, honestly.”
It’s pretty much all Hoffman-Ellis has done since graduating from WSU at the end of the fall semester. He left Pullman for Oceanside, Calif., to work out with a trainer prior to the Cougars’ pro day on March 9.
Since then, Hoffman-Ellis said he’s been aided by former WSU teammate Jessy Sanchez, a personal trainer in the Los Angeles area.
He runs, he lifts, he works on football-related skills. Now he waits, like so many other former college players, for his name to be called in this weekend’s NFL draft.
Hoffman-Ellis is projected as a fifth-round selection by NFLDraftScout.com, which is affiliated with CBS Sports and considered one of the more trustworthy draft sources on the Web.
Other outlets are more critical. NationalFootballPost.com describes him thusly: “Has been productive with only limited years of experience and can run and tackle. However, isn’t real instinctive, struggles to stack and shed and needs to earn his way on a team through special teams to have a chance.”
Of course, those late-round projections are still fairly subjective. But the fact that Hoffman-Ellis’ name is included – NFLDraftScout.com ranks him among the top 20 outside linebackers in the draft – is no coincidence.
After leading the Cougars with 88 tackles last season, he turned some heads at WSU’s pro day, clocking 4.54 seconds in the 40-yard dash. That, Hoffman-Ellis said, likely helped open the eyes of some scouts who might not have heard much about WSU or Hoffman-Ellis the past couple of seasons.
“From there you look at film and look at the growth of a player,” he said. “I think them being able to finally watch film after becoming more aware of certain prospects such as myself definitely helps.”
The Oakland Raiders had him in for a visit last week, and several teams have contacted him.
Still, it’s not about the round he’s selected, Hoffman-Ellis said. It’s not even about being selected at all. If he has to wait until after the draft and sign with a team as a free agent, so be it. That won’t hinder his ultimate goal.
“I don’t really care,” Hoffman-Ellis said. “I know I’ll get a chance, and to me it’s not about where I go, it’s a matter of sticking, and it’s a matter of longevity. At this point I’m not really worried just because I know I’m going to work my (rear) off and I know my best football is in front of me, and the team that gets me knows that as well.”
Before his visit to Oakland, Hoffman-Ellis said, he stopped and thought about how close he was to attaining a goal that began as only a dream for a kid who didn’t start playing football until his senior year of high school.
“Five years ago, who knew I’d still be playing the sport?” Hoffman-Ellis said. “So it was kind of a trip, but at the same time I think I’ve adjusted and been able to really grasp what’s on my plate at the moment.”
He figures he’ll watch the draft – if he’s selected, it likely won’t be until Saturday, when rounds four through seven take place – but might multi-task, too.
“I might have friends over, might go golf,” he said. “But I’ll definitely be tuned in and updated.”
No other WSU players are projected to be drafted. Former offensive lineman Andrew Roxas recently signed with the Spokane Shock, and several others – such as receiver Jared Karstetter – hope to sign with NFL teams as free agents.