NFL Draft 2009: Avon Lake’s Means plays the waiting game, hopes to be taken in first five rounds
Scott Petrak | The Chronicle-Telegram
The ball is out of Andrew Means’ hands, and that can be a helpless feeling. Especially for a receiver.
After a stellar high school career at Avon Lake, four years at Indiana University and the exhausting predraft season, Means is left to sit and wait for the next week.
“It’s getting close,” he said Thursday. “I’m feeling good, man. I’m just anxious. I wish it was tomorrow.”
It is the NFL Draft. It starts next Saturday afternoon with two rounds and wraps up Sunday with five rounds. Means could be taken anywhere from the third round to the seventh round.
“I’d like to go in the third, fourth or fifth round. That’s our goal,” he said. “I think it’s very realistic.
“That’s what I’m being told, but you can’t really take anybody’s word for it.”
Means is one of the draft’s most interesting cases. He split his time at Indiana between football and baseball, then spent last summer in the Cincinnati Reds’ minor league system after being drafted in the 11th round. He reported to spring training this year, but asked the Reds for permission to leave 2½ weeks ago, a week before the start of the season.
“I’m focusing on football now,” he said. “That’s what I want to do.
“I was having a blast, but football was in my head every day. I wanted to get out of there and prove to NFL teams that’s what I want to do. Show them they should have no doubts about that.”
Means said the Reds understood and he didn’t burn any bridges. They retain his rights in case football doesn’t work out.
The month in Florida was filled with batting practice and outfield drills, so Means had to quickly readjust before a workout at Browns headquarters this week. He caught passes from Michigan State’s Brian Hoyer, a North Olmsted resident and St. Ignatius graduate, did various receiver drills and was quizzed on the Browns’ routes and motions.
Head coach Eric Mangini observed the workout.
“It went real well,” Means said. “It would be a dream come true to play for the Browns. I wouldn’t be able to explain it in words. Just growing up and loving the Browns, it would be a dream come true.”
Means’ two-sport background makes his draft value difficult to determine. Scouts never got to see him during spring practices — he was playing baseball — so they aren’t as familiar with him. On the flip side, he’s a well-rounded physical specimen whose potential has yet to be realized.
“There are teams who say, ‘If he had concentrated only on football, what would he be?’” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said on a conference call. “There’s just not enough real good tape to justify a pop up to the third or fourth round.”
“His workouts have been to the point where he’s getting a lot of attention,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “You don’t run and test like that without wowing some people over. He’s an intriguing middle-round prospect.”
Means is 6-foot-1 5/8, 214 pounds and chiseled. He proved what that body can do at Indiana’s pro day March 10 in Bloomington.
He was clocked between 4.33 and 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times, an improvement from 12 at the combine.
“I knew 100 percent I could do so much better with my numbers. I was killing myself two weeks after the combine,” Means said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with what I did. It’s helping my draft stock.”
The increased show of strength on the bench was all about finding his rhythm.
“I was one of the biggest receivers at the combine,” he said. “To do only 12, I knew something was wrong.”
Means isn’t all brawn. Hoosiers receivers coach Bill Lynch quickly noted intelligence as one of Means’ strengths.
“He’s a smart kid, he understands offenses and will be able to understand intricacies,” Lynch said. “He understands defensive coverages and is a very heady receiver.”
Lynch acknowledged that Means’ receiving technique suffered because of baseball — and Means said splitting time hurt him in the draft process for both sports — but suggested that being in game competition year-round is even more valuable to a professional athlete.
“I don’t care what round he gets drafted,” Lynch said. “He’s going to make an NFL roster and be playing for somebody.
“He has all the tools, all the skills and necessary ability athletically to be a very productive player at the next level. I wouldn’t say he’s raw, but I wouldn’t say he’s polished, either. He’s got a pretty high ceiling still.”
Each team’s evaluation of that ceiling will ultimately determine when Means is selected.
“I know a lot of teams like him,” agent Jeff Chilcoat said. “He’s a great character kid with a lot of ability.”
With the workouts and interviews behind him, Means has a week to reflect. After that, it will be full speed ahead toward life in the NFL.
“When I look back at the whole process, I feel I’ve done everything in my power, done everything well,” he said. “I’ve run good 40 times, I caught every ball that came my way, I did well on all the mental tests.
“At this point, it’s in God’s hands.”
So Means is headed to the golf course.
“I won’t be glued to the TV,” he said. “I made that mistake for the baseball draft.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or email@example.com
ANDREW MEANS FILE
HIGH SCHOOL: Avon Lake
HEIGHT: 6-1 5/8
POSITION: Wide receiver
40 TIME: Between 4.33 and 4.36
BENCH PRESS: 225 pounds, 18 times
DRAFT PROJECTION: Between the third and seventh rounds.
SCOTT PETRAK’S TOP
OF THE CLASS: QUARTERBACK
MATTHEW STAFFORD, GEORGIA: Strong-armed junior could go No. 1 to Lions.
MARK SANCHEZ, USC: Might be moving into top five, despite only one year as starter.
JOSH FREEMAN, KANSAS STATE: Great size (6-foot-6, 248 pounds) and big arm, but he’s raw.
OTHER NOTABLES: Pat White, West Virginia; Brian Hoyer, Michigan State; Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State.
COMMENT: A big drop-off after top three. Hoyer’s from North Olmsted and played at St. Ignatius.
HOW THE BROWNS FIT: They’ve done their homework on Sanchez, and he could be the pick if Brady Quinn and/or Derek Anderson are dealt.