Sports

Bronson's NFL dreams about to become reality

Central Washington tight end and Jefferson graduate Jared Bronson works out for Jacksonville Jaguars’ assistant Mike Tice last month at Federal Way Memorial Stadium in preparation for this weekend
Central Washington tight end and Jefferson graduate Jared Bronson works out for Jacksonville Jaguars’ assistant Mike Tice last month at Federal Way Memorial Stadium in preparation for this weekend's NFL Draft in New York City.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

All the measuring, weighing, running, jumping, lifting and Wonderlic testing has led to this weekend for Jared Bronson.

Like all other football players who have ever strapped on a helmet, the 2003 Thomas Jefferson High School graduate has dreamed about having his name called from the stage at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall during the NFL Draft.

Bronson’s dream is about to become reality. By all indications, the 6-foot-4, 255-pound tight end out of Central Washington University will be selected Sunday on the second day of the NFL Draft. Today’s portion of the draft will include rounds one and two, and the remaining five rounds will take place Sunday.

“I’m pretty sure I won’t be going on the first day,” Bronson said. “But it can be anywhere on the second day. It’s looking really good right now. It’s not set in stone, but I’m getting good feedback. I’ll be happy to go anywhere. Even if I’m the last pick in the draft, I will still be happy.”

The NFL Draft will be televised all day today and Sunday on ESPN and ESPN2. Bronson and his family will be watching the coverage at their home in Kent.

“It’s going to be a fun weekend,” Bronson said. “It’s going to be pretty chill and we are just going to watch the draft.”

Bronson isn’t your normal NFL prospect. Playing at Central, a Division II school that plays against teams like Western Oregon and Dixie State, he didn’t get a chance to showcase his talent against Pac-10 or Big 12 Conference players. But that’s what happens when you aren’t a highly-recuited player coming out of high school.

“It’s been quite a journey,” Bronson said. “I took an unusual path. But this was my goal when I came out of TJ and I just wanted to make it and have a chance to play in the NFL.”

After playing quarterback at Jefferson, Bronson switched positions to tight end during his freshman season at Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz. After a year at Pima, Bronson followed in his father Gordon’s footsteps and transferred to the University of Washington to play tight end for the Huskies. Gordon Bronson was a standout tight end for UW during the 1970s.

But things didn’t work out in Seattle, and Bronson ended up transferring to Central Washington, where he played two seasons.

Bronson had a standout senior campaign for the Wildcats despite missing nearly five full games due to a shoulder injury. He ranked second on the team in receiving yards (502) and receiving touchdowns (six) and saved his best collegiate game for last, when he corralled a career-high eight receptions for 169 yards in Central Washington’s 49-42 loss at West Texas A&M in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Division II playoffs.

Bronson is hoping to become the first Wildcat drafted by the NFL since 1991, when wide receiver Eric Boles was an 11th-round draft pick by the New York Jets.

“It’s been a fun process,” Gordon Bronson said. “It seems like his whole career he has been under the radar. Now it’s come full circle and as a father, there have been times where I’ve had to bite my tongue a little bit and not say something. Now all the things I was thinking are being proved out.”

Bronson’s senior year performance earned Bronson a coveted spot at the 84th Annual East-West Shrine Game in Houston in January and an invitation to the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis.

He also trained at Elite Athletics, outside of Malibu, Calif., during December and January and has hired an agent from Premier Sports and Entertainment in Southern California.

“It’s been interesting,” Bronson said. “The (NFL) scouts starting coming out last spring to watch film and practice and they told me that I had the ability to play in the NFL. It was kind of a snowball effect from there.”

Bronson proved to be one of the better tight ends in the country at the NFL Combine in February. During the event, NFL scouts, coaches and general managers not only get to meet their prospective employees, but they measure them in every way possible.

“It’s pretty much a meat market,” Bronson said. “When they get your height and weight, you have to walk up on a stage in compression shorts and then you turn around with your back to the crowd and everybody in the NFL looks at you. It’s kind of interesting. They are sitting around you like a basketball court.”

ESPN.com currently has Bronson ranked as the 14th-best tight end in the 2009 NFL Draft. Sports Illustrated has Bronson projected as a fifth or sixth rounder and nfldraftscout.com and cbssports.com both have Bronson rated 13th at his position.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Gordon Bronson said. “But at least Jared is on the radar and he should get an opportunity.

Bronson also held a Pro Day in Ellensburg last month, along with Central Washington quarterback Mike Reilly. He has also worked out individually for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks.

“There is a lot of information out there and a lot of misinformation (about the draft),” Gordon Bronson said. “It’s kind of real mixed bag and there have been things that have been written that have ticked me off after reading. But it’s been fun.”

The Bronsons are hoping the fun continues during this weekend’s NFL Draft.

“I have done everything I can control and now it’s just where the chips fall on Sunday,” Bronson said.

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