INDIANAPOLIS-- On Saturday, the focus shifts to defense at the NFL Scouting Combine. While players from the offensive side of the ball begin their drills and workouts, defensive linemen and linebackers will begin their cycle of completing their medical exams and meeting with the media on Saturday. Click here for more information on your favorite team.
– Georgia Tech linebacker Phillip Wheeler said that in addition to his talent rushing the linebacker, he believes that his ability to play any of the three linebacker positions will help him in this draft. Despite the speed he has shown on film tracking down quarterbacks for sacks, Wheeler said that he thinks his most important event for him will be the 40-yard dash. And since Georgia Tech uses a lot of NFL terminology in their defense, he believes he'll pick up the playbook quickly at the next level.
When asked about what it he learned while being coached by former NFL-great Mike Singletary at the Senior Bowl, Wheeler smiled and said, "How to get yelled at, I guess." He then went on to explain that he thought Singletary wanted to see if he could push his buttons a bit and how he handled being challenged. "I was honored to be coached by him," he said.
Wheeler met with the San Francisco 49ers for his first interview, and already has 11 other teams requesting formal interviews with him.
– Virginia DE Chris Long drew a large contingent this afternoon when he addressed the media. Long measured in at 6-foot-3, 272 pounds and described himself as being relentless. Long believes he can fit in with any team in the NFL, and if he were selected as the first pick in the draft that it would be an honor that comes with a lot of responsibility. Long will participate in all workouts at the Scouting Combine except the bench press, due to a sprained thumb he suffered during Virginia’s bowl game. 1:15 p.m.
- Linebacker Curtis Lofton said that since he accomplished most of his personal goals at the University of Oklahoma, the decision to come out early for the NFL Draft wasn't that difficult for him. Those goals included earning All-Big-12 and All-American honors and leading his team in tackles. The only goal he didn't hit was winning the Butkus Award.
Lofton doesn't feel he'll have problems picking up the NFL playbook. "At Oklahoma, we have a very complex defense," he said. He lists Ray Lewis, Shawne Merriman and DeMeco Ryans as the three NFL linebackers he admires the most.
- Virginia Tech LB Xavier Adibi stood at the podium this afternoon and said that he feels that he’s best suited to play weakside linebacker at the next level. When asked if he felt his special teams background would benefit him in the NFL, Adibi agreed. “I believe it’s an advantage,” Adibi said. “Coach [Frank] Beamer really sticks it to us [to play special teams] especially when we’re young. It really helps us out a lot when we get to the next level.”
Adibi believes that he can play all three linebacker positions in the NFL.
– Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston spoke to the media this afternoon after measuring in at 6-foot-3, 266-pounds. He was asked why he decided to leave Ohio State and said that even though he left early, he was at Ohio State for four years (redshirted his first year) and felt that it was his time. Gholston said he was going to participate in a full workout and when asked about his expectations for his bench press he responded, “I expect to get at least 35 (reps).”
–Maryland offensive guard Andrew Crummey broke his left fibula back in October, but recovered from the injury and played in the East-West Shrine Game. So he surprised everyone in the media room when he came in with a walking boot on the left foot.
Crummy revealed that he had fractured the leg again while playing in the all-star game. And this time, the fracture -- roughly an inch above the ankle -- required surgery that included a plate and screws to repair the damage. After he arrived in Indy, he looked around at the other offensive lineman and realized that he's the only one at the Combine on crutches. "It's real tough," Crummey said. "You're kind of a fish out of water."
The lineman said that he'll be returning for a medical re-check on April 4th. But he projected that he won't be able to take a blow to the leg in live drills until June.
– Projected first round pick, Pittsburgh OT Jeff Otah hasn’t spoke with the media due to his flight being delayed because of inclement weather, ran a 5.57 in the 40 this morning.
– UNC DT Kentwan Balmer weighed in this morning at 6-4 ½, 308-pounds. Balmer said that he’s met with three teams - Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Houston. When asked if he was going to participate in a full workout this weekend, Balmer responded, “I’m here, so I’m going to workout.”
– Michigan OLB Shawn Crable said that he’s been listed as a DE and an OLB by teams, and he’s fine with playing either position at the next level. When asked what round he expected to be drafted in, Crable said he didn’t know and that he’s just looking forward to working out.
- Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith took the podium this morning and addressed a few topics. With the Falcons winning the coin toss over the Raiders and Chiefs and now officially granted the third overall pick, Smith didn’t offer much in respect to how the Falcons will use the pick. “Having the number-three pick opens up a lot of avenues for us and we will discuss how we want to use that pick,” Smith said.
Smith is a former defensive coordinator and with having a high draft pick he was asked about Virginia DE Chris Long and LSU DT Glenn Dorsey.
“Obviously both players are exceptional players,” Smith said. “They’ve been productive in college, but I haven’t had the opportunity to really watch them.”
Smith was also asked about DeAngelo Hall’s situation and stated, “I’m disappointed in DeAngelo’s comments, but I won’t speculate on the issue.”