It was Saint Patrick's Day, and a bright green blur by the name of Devon Cajuste swooshes down the blazing turf field, remarkably gracefully for someone of his size. A silky smooth yet charged football sails out of Kevin Hogan's hand, seamlessly into Cajuste's hands. Again. And again.
Cajuste seems to be Hogan's good luck charm -- the garish green cleats and tank certainly couldn't have hurt. Playing on the practice fields at Stanford for what will likely be the last time of consequence together at Stanford's Pro Day, it seemed that Hogan and Cajuste could read each other's minds.
After a up-and-down outing at the NFL Combine for Hogan, the performance brought back memories of all of the great things the duo had accomplished together at Stanford. The most wins in Stanford history? They did it. Three Rose Bowls? They did it. It was "definitely" a nostalgic moment for Hogan, who tried to not let those feelings creep in and "enjoy the moment" as much as possible.
Okay yes, there were times when those balls sailed over his receivers' heads, but overall, Hogan looked poised and in command, making most of the throws that were thrown at him. Hogan threw to Cajuste, tight end Austin Hooper, and receiver Kodi Whitfield in a 60-pass session before a gaggle of NFL scouts from all 32 teams, and in large, he didn't seem rattled. Rather, quite the contrary.
With a retooled throwing motion and familiar targets back at home, Hogan was confident, not letting the moment get to him. "Coming back here and being able to throw with my guys was what I was looking forward to, because at the Combine, you don't really know who you're throwing to," Hogan said Thursday. "It throws off timing, and that's what a lot of the throws are. I wanted to come back here with my guys and get back into a rhythm, and I thought that we found that rhythm....I thought I made some good throws, and some I'd like back, but that's just how it goes. The guys did really well making me look good."
His hard work was evident to draft guru Mike Mayock, who spoke highly of Hogan's outing on Pro Day: "I thought he threw the ball really well," the NFL Network analyst said. "He obviously has been working hard at it. It was scripted real well to show off what he could do, especially some of the out-breaking routes and some of the seams. I thought he did a real nice job with the timing and the location."
And with Hogan, pure measurables and flashy throws will never be his hallmark, but that didn't prevent him from being the most successful quarterback in Stanford history. So successful, that in fact Stanford's quarterback coach job is now named after him. His Stanford pedigree could be a deciding factor for several teams.
"One of the nice things about a program player, [like ones from Stanford], is that you know what you're going to get," Mayock said Thursday. "They're not always five star players, but they come here and they get coached up, and you know what you're getting when you're drafting a Stanford player. There's some real power to that."
Leadership and four years of starting experience in a pro-style system will make him an intriguing late-round pick for many teams. Hogan quickly came on the scene as a vocal field general in his freshman season, reenergizing a stagnant offense and carrying the team to the Rose Bowl, assuming a leadership role faster than even Andrew Luck did. Don't get me wrong, Luck was a different type of leader, leading by example, so he didn't become "the man" until Toby Gerhart left the Farm, according to sources close to the team.
Sure, his leadership skills and performance on Thursday won't turn Hogan into a sure-fire first round pick by any stretch of the imagination, or even fourth or fifth. He's still a late round at best, according to Mayock, but with a few years of seasoning, one can imagine that he could become a solid NFL starter. Even without his lucky green flash.
Now, like Hogan says, let's try to enjoy the moment and not let the Hogan nostalgia creep in too much. But unfortunately, it's all we can do now.