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Former Idaho linebacker Kaden Elliss flips sleds, turns heads at NFL pro day

UPDATED: Wed., April 3, 2019

Idaho linebacker Kaden Elliss  chases Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander  during a  Sept. 29, 2018, game in Moscow, Idaho. (Kai Eiselein / AP)
Idaho linebacker Kaden Elliss chases Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander during a Sept. 29, 2018, game in Moscow, Idaho. (Kai Eiselein / AP)

MOSCOW, Idaho – The most impressive performance at Idaho’s Pro Day could not be quantified by a watch, tape measure or scale, but had to be seen.

In a drill in which he simulated coming off a double team and bursting through the adjoining gap, Kaden Elliss moved laterally with startling quickness and got his hands under an individual blocking sled. He raised it as easily as a hoist lifts a car. But instead of simply cutting off it, he flipped it – threw the sled aside as though it was a lawn chair. Twice. Former Vandals teammates and other spectators from the athletics department in the Kibbie Dome stands expressed their appreciation.

“That was pretty fun,” Elliss said.

On Wednesday, Elliss continued an extended job interview as a linebacker and edge rusher for about a dozen NFL scouts that began with him posting NFL combine-worthy numbers at the University of Utah’s pro day last week.

In Moscow, Elliss improved on several of those, adding 4 inches to his vertical leap, to 34 1/2 inches, and running a 40-yard dash between a hand-timed 4.58 and 4.6 seconds. On a lateral cone drill, his foot slipped the first time he planted it and kicked up a cloud of rubber pellets. Without that, Elliss said, he had hoped to complete the drill in less than 4 seconds.

Elliss pronounced himself relieved to be done with pro day workouts and excited to move on to the next phase of the NFL selection process, meeting with teams. At Idaho, a scout wearing Baltimore Ravens gear kept him long after the session, the two huddling over a laptop on a bench on the sideline.

Four other former Vandals joined Elliss at the pro day: offensive lineman Jordan Rose, who finished his career two years ago; defensive lineman D.J. Henderson; wide receiver David Ungerer and running back Isaiah Saunders, who were all seniors this past season.

Ungerer had one of the better showings, posting the day’s best vertical, 35 1/2 inches, running a 4.57 40 and completing 14 reps on the 225-pound bench press. He matched Saunders’ total. Henderson, the only other bench-presser, finished with 21.

Saunders, with his father Walt, a former Idaho player; Ungerer, with his mother and roommate Sylvia; and Elliss, with his father and Vandals defensive line coach Luther, all had parents on hand supporting them. Sylvia Ungerer was relieved to see her son finish as a Vandal without injury and set aside the weighty responsibility of being a senior leader on a team that fell short of meeting its goals. But she acknowledged there is an upside to him trying to continue playing football, most likely in the Canadian Football League, since he has Canadian residency.

“I’ll be in Canada, too,” she said. When he graduates in May, “I’m returning back home” to Toronto.

Luther Elliss, who played 10 years as a defensive tackle in the NFL and was a two-time Pro Bowler, went through a version of pro day two decades ago as an All-America at Utah. In his case, there were more position-specific drills and no visits with teams, he said.

He advised his son, who trained for his pro days with former Idaho punter T.J. Conley in Spokane, to concentrate on explosive, high-intensity movements.

“I’m trying not to be hovering too bad.” he said. “Stand back and enjoy it.”

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