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Kyle Long Discusses Being Versatile Lineman and NFL Future

January 27, 2013 in 2013 Senior Bowl

Here is my interview with Oregon's OL Kyle Long at the 2013 Senior Bowl practices:


Q:    What’s the best piece of advice you got from your father and brother about this process?

You can never go wrong working as hard as you possibly can and being honest with yourself.  Hard work will get you very far in this world, whatever it is you’re doing.  If you work hard and you’re professional about your business, then good things will happen.


Q:  You don’t have as much time on the gridiron, so what do you want to show NFL scouts this week?

I want to show NFL scouts that I’m more than just a last name on the back of my jersey.  I understand that a lot of people want to ask me about my dad and my brother because they had great success in their own right.  I’m here to prove myself as Kyle, # 74, offensive lineman.

OL Kyle Long leads block during Senior Bowl game.

OL Kyle Long leads block during Senior Bowl game.


Q:  You were a baseball player and have a lot of athleticism.  Was that part of the reason you chose Oregon, because they run that spread attack and you were able to showcase that some?

In looking for a school to go to, I knew that it was going to be an expedited career, it was going to be an abbreviated career.  In watching Oregon the past few years, I couldn’t think of a better offense to showcase my athleticism and to pick up the offense quickly.  Coach Kelly and Coach Greatwood gave me an opportunity and I ran with it and I’m forever indebted to those guys.


Q:  What would it be like to get drafted by Coach Kelly and play for him next year in Philly?

I think it would be great.  I love Coach Kelly.  He’s the kind of guy you want to go to work for.  He’s a player’s coach and he’s a winner.


Q:        What do you think is your biggest strength you bring to an NFL team?

My passion and I’m always striving to get better.  Also the fact that I’m raw right now – there’s a lot of potential that is untapped.  Also, you know what you’re going to get out of me on a day-in, day-out basis.  I work hard and like to get after it and I love the game of football.


Q:        Do you think there’s a particular type of system that you fit better in?

Not necessarily.


Q:        Any position that you feel is your stronger suit?

Probably offensive line. (laughter)


Q:        Along the line?

There’s no one position that I feel most comfortable at or least comfortable at.  I feel like that’s what, obviously makes me more attractive to a lot of teams.  Because everybody needs offensive lineman, if you’re somebody who’s played inside and outside, then it gives you more of an opportunity to play somewhere.


Q:        One final question.  If you did happen to get drafted by the Rams, what would that be like to go up against your brother week-in, week-out in practice?

I’m sure it would be a humbling, learning experience!


Q:    For you or for him?

For me!  Have you seen him play?


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Kawaan Short Discusses Senior Bowl & NFL Future

January 27, 2013 in 2013 Senior Bowl

Here is my interview with Purdue DT Kawaan Short at the 2013 Senior Bowl practices:

Q:        What does it mean for you to be part of the Senior Bowl process?

It means a lot.  I feel like I still have a lot of stuff to prove.  This week I’m trying to open up more eyes.  I’m trying to be more consistent.  That’s one thing I feel like I need to contribute and do right now.  So this whole week is about being consistent and standing out from others.

Kawann Short at Senior Bowl game.

Short at Senior Bowl game.


Q:        You had a chance to come out of Purdue last year.  What made you go back?

The number one thing was my mom wanted to see me graduate, which I did last December.  I felt like I could have done better.  I got a 3rd round grade last year.  It wasn’t based off anything but just film.  I felt like this year, I knew I could come back another year and just have a great off-season and try and do what I know I could do my senior season.


Q:        What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from former coaches or any players you know who have gone on to the NFL?

Just that everything is being evaluated, from the time you step out of the house to the time you step back in.  A lot of people are watching you, even though they’re not.  And just being focused and being that humble guy, it goes a long way.


Q:        Who would you say was the toughest offensive lineman you ever went up against?

If I had to pick one, I’d say the guy from Penn State this year.  He was real tough and he did a great job against me.


Q:        What two things do you want to show to NFL scouts this week?


That I’m consistent and that I can play in any setting that they put me in.  And that I’m a pass rusher and I can stop the run.


Q:        What would you say is your strongest defensive line position?

I think I’m better at nose tackle.


Q:        Do you have any expectations of what your bench press will be at the combine?

Nah – I don’t.  But, hey – I’m trying to push for 30 plus!


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Small School Wide Receiver Aaron Mellette Making A Name For Himself

January 24, 2013 in 2013 Senior Bowl

Aaron Mellette came from FCS Elon, but has shown himself to be one of the best receivers at this year’s Senior Bowl. Despite not having a big name, Mellette has wowed scouts and coaches all week with his ability to get open and come down with the ball. It’s a performance that will make team’s go back and evaluate him more, and compare him to some of the bigger name receivers out there in this class.

Perhaps Mellette’s performance shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. After all he was a three year starter for Elon and amassed over 300 receptions, 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. Each of the last three years he’s been over 1,000 yards and had double digit touchdowns. He’s also maintained a 14.0 yards per reception average, including 14.5 each of the last two years. While some will voice concern that Mellette was just beating up on weaker competition, it is important to remember that he played with lesser talented players around him as well. That is extremely important for a wide receiver because he relies so much on having a quarterback to get him the football.

Mellette at Senior Bowl practice.

Mellette at Senior Bowl practice.

Mellette realizes that he may have been overlooked given the level that he played on, but he’s here to answer those questions.

“To be able to show the G.M’s and the other teams that the guys from the FCS are just as equal to the guys from the FBS and we can play with them,” Mellette said.

He also understands what this game means for him and his school,

“It means a lot to be one of the few guys that is privileged to come here. …Especially being the first person from my school, it definitely means the world”.

Mellette has proven his doubters wrong this week, showing that it doesn’t matter the talent facing him, he has the skills to get the football. Mellette has been extremely impressive this week in every area, but the two that have stood out have been his route running and speed. Coming from a smaller college you wouldn’t expect Mellette to be as crisp running the route tree, but every route they send him on he runs to near perfection. He is very fluid getting in and out of his breaks and runs really clean routes. This allows him to get further separation from the defender and will also be very helpful against zone coverage at the next level. The other reason Mellette is getting so open is his speed. He has shown the ability to get behind coverage and be a bit of a deep threat, but his speed really plays up in the intermediate game. He gets off the line very quickly and can get to 10-15 yard range very quickly.

While those are his best traits Mellette has shown, Mellette does appear to be the entire package. At 6’2” and 216 pounds, Mellette has a nice promising frame to play outside in the NFL. Add in the speed and route-running ability , and you have a receiver with a lot of promise.

Mellette brings a lot to an NFL franchise that goes well beyond his measurable or skill set. He’s a really good guy who can be a leader on the team.

“I am a great character guy, no off the field issues. I am a good guy in the lockerroom, and a a team player first”.

Mellette has answered the first big test on his road to becoming an NFL player with a great Senior Bowl week. He has shown that he has the size speed and skills to make it in the NFL. He’s also a guy who is dedicated and driven in his approach. With a strong work ethic and high character NFL teams should feel plenty confident in selecting Mellette in the early rounds.

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Senior Bowl: Evaluating the Tight Ends

January 24, 2013 in 2013 Senior Bowl

One of the position groups that I was least excited about seeing this week was the tight ends. Not only was there no early round talent among this group, but there was even a question if some of these guys would get drafted. Many of the guys seemed one dimensional and weren't highly touted, and could leave them undrafted at a position that doesn't produce a lot of picks each year. That perception began to change with the first practice. Not only do I now believe that at least 5 of these guys will get selected, but I feel that many of them will have a chance for a bright future at the next level.

Mychal Rivera, Tennessee:

Rivera in many ways stole the show down here among the tight ends. He went from being a guy that no one really expected to be drafted, to being the top guy down here. He's very much a move tight end and is a guy that you can split out wide or line-up in the backfield as well. He showed a real nice ability to separate and ran really good routes. He has really good speed, that will allow him to pick up extra yards after the catch and stretch the field some. His best strength may be his hands. He caught about everything thrown his way and just looked really natural doing so. The one question mark is his blocking and if he can hold up at the next level. He didn't wow in that department here, but he didn't hurt himself either.

Nick Kasa, Colorado:

Kasa is a former defensive lineman, who converted to tight end just two years ago. He's big and physical at the point of attack, something that he showcased pretty well down here this week, but he's more than just a blocking tight end. He really showed up as a receiver and a guy who can pick up big chunks of yards after the catch. His speed and quickness really surprised me for a guy his size. Kasa did have a couple drops this week, but overall did a nice job catching the ball with his hands and not always letting it get into his body.

Vance McDonald, Rice:

Fanspeak's Steve Shoup interviewing Vance McDonald.

Fanspeak's Steve Shoup interviewing Vance McDonald.

McDonald  had been a featured part of the Rice offense the last few years, so it was pretty clear he could catch the ball. The questions that remained would be how was he as a blocker and could he separate against better competition. McDonald showed good form and technique blocking. He lost some battles, but for the most part was pretty impressive. He also showed better speed than I expected and ran really nice routes that left him an open target. He did drop a couple passes during the week, but he also made some highlight reel catches.

Michael Williams, Alabama:

Williams came in with a rep as being essentially a sixth offensive lineman. He's lived up to that rep as being absolutely devastating when asked to block. He's handled safeties, linebackers and defensive linemen with ease. The real thing that surprised me was just how good he was in the passing game. Now he won't stretch the field or run away from anyone after the catch, but he'll get open and be a big, safe target for his quarterback to get the ball too. He got more separation than you'd expect from linebackers and safeties this week, and even when they were on him, he just used his big body to shield them from the ball. Defenders had no chance to make a play on it, unless they committed pass interference. As a second tight end, or even a first tight end on a run first team, Williams could be a fantastic pick-up.