D’Imperio, Munoz impressing NFL scouts
March 13, 2010 • 2:19 pm
By Keith Sargeant
Ryan D'Imperio (bottom, No. 44) and Damaso Munoz (top, 17) are among several Rutgers players hopeful that they will hear their names called in next month's NFL Draft. (MyCentralJersey.com file photo)
The past two summers has seen a play-making Rutgers linebacker make it to the last round of cuts at an NFL camp. And the past two NFL seasons has seen those same play-making Rutgers linebackers get called back to the practice squads.
Brandon Renkart ended the 2009-10 NFL season as a key member of the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad, contributing to the AFC champions during Super Bowl week. Kevin Malast finished this past season on the Chicago Bears’ practice squad. Both are expected to get call-backs from their respective clubs, and vie for roster spots this summer.
Chances are, Damaso Munoz and Ryan D’Imperio will be doing the same by then. Munoz and D’Imperio, who ranked first and third, respectively, in tackles for Rutgers this past season, turned in solid workouts during Rutgers Pro Day last week.
Munoz ran the 40-yard dash in a smoking 4.49-seconds to highlight a day in which he posted above-average times in the 20-yard shuttle (4.15), 3-cone drill (6.91) and the 60-yard shuttle (11.49). He also benched 225-pounds 25 times, measured a 35-inch vertical and a 9.9 broad jump.
Still, his 40-yard sprint was what had several scouts buzzing afterward. Had the 4.49 been posted at the NFL Combine, it would’ve topped all linebackers who ran in Indianapolis earlier this month. Of course, pro-day conditions (not to mention reported times) tend to be more favorable than the NFL Combine, but consider no other linebacker clocked under 4.5 in Indianapolis.
“”I’m happy with that (40 time),” Munoz said after his workout Wednesday afternoon inside the Rutgers bubble. “”Down where I was (training) I was running a 4.4. So as long as I was in the 4.4s I’m happy with it.”
Damaso Munoz may get a look at strongside linebacker or strong safety at the NFL level. (MyCentralJersey.com file photo)
The issue Munoz will have to get past in the eyes of NFL teams willing to invest a late-round pick on him is whether he’s big enough to play linebacker in the NFL. Considering the average size of the linebackers who posted the top-3 40-times at the NFL Combine is 6-1 and 241 pounds, it’s no wonder why the 5-10 5/8 and 221-pound Munoz participated in both safety and linebacker drills before the 35 scouts in attendance.
“”I definitely can play safety,” Munoz said. “”They say I move well. I’m versatile and I’ve played safety before so if a team wants me to play safety, I’ll do that.”
Munoz, who said he spoke with representatives from Atlanta, Chicago, New England and Philadelphia and received “”good feedback,” expects to be invited for individual workouts in preparation for what he hopes is a late-round pick.
“”I definitely expect to be drafted,” said Munoz, a three-year starter who recorded a team-best 81 tackles, 8.5 tackles-for-loss, three sacks, two interceptions and four fumble recoveries from his weakside linebacker position last fall. “”A lot of people said I move well and they liked my tape so they’re interested. If you go back to the film you can see that I’m versatile and I can do different things.”
At 6-1 3/8 and 241 pounds, D’Imperio fits the ideal linebacker frame for the NFL. But after clocking a pedestrian 4.65 in the 40, D’Imperio’s speed at middle linebacker is questionable at best.
Ryan D'Imperio, here playing for Washington Township HS on Thanksgiving, 2005, said participating in fullback drills at Rutgers Pro Day felt like his ""high school days.'' (Courier-Post file photo)
That’s why D’Imperio was asked to perform both linebacker and fullback drills Wednesday and, by all accounts, he performed well during both positional drills.
“”I was asked to go over there and run some fullback and catch some balls right after my 40, so I went over there and I felt like it went well. I only dropped one,” said D’Imperio, who quipped that it felt like his “”high school days” of playing both sides of the ball.
“”I had positive feedback,” he added. “”I talked to a few scouts and they said they really enjoyed watching me and they thought I did well.”