The most complete tight end available in this year’s draft, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Pettigrew, fielded questions from the media this afternoon. He was surrounded by a large contingent of reporters and discussed the ability that separates him from the rest of the TE class – his blocking.
Pettigrew has his sights set on the NFL and projects to be a first round pick.
“I think I block well,” Pettigrew said. “I think my best game blocking was the Texas game this past season. It’s something that I bring to the table and I believe it sets me a part from everyone else. I just try to be a complete tight end.”
One aspect of Pettigrew’s game that’s been questioned is his ability to stretch the field. As a senior, he caught 42 passes for 472 yards, but didn’t have a touchdown. Pettigrew’s longest reception of the year was from 38 yards out and he recognizes that there’s a concern about his ability to stretch the field.
“I’m looking to run a 4.4 in the 40 [tomorrow],” he said, with a smile. “At least that’s what I’m hoping to run. I know my speed is being questioned, but I know I’m faster than people think.”
There are a few teams that could use an upgrade at tight end and one of them is the Atlanta Falcons. Pettigrew mentioned that he talked with Falcons TE coach Chris Scelfo last night and that it was a good conversation. The Falcons have the 24th pick in the first round and if Pettigrew is still available, he would be an attractive option that would accelerate Matt Ryan’s progression as an NFL quarterback.
The Falcons and the rest of the NFL will be able to see Pettigrew up close on Friday, as he will participate in a full workout.
LSU offensive guard Herman Johnson said that although some teams have expressed some concerns about his weight, but he's telling them it's not something they have to worry about.
He said he's shooting for a 5.3-second 40-time, even though he's only run that once, and at least 30 reps on the bench. Johnson also stated that a few teams have talked to him about playing tackle at the next level, but a lot see him as a guard.
When asked what his expectations were as he approached the Combine, Johnson said, "Just basically coming out and showcasing his skills, letting everybody know that I'm dedicated and willing to do whatever it takes to get drafted."
When Baylor OT Jason Smith stood at the podium this afternoon, he definitively stated, “I’m the best OT in the draft and I don’t think I have any flaws.”
A former tight end, Smith is now one of the top four OTs available in the draft.
Those are words that the Baylor standout will have to live up to this weekend, as he told the assembled that he would perform in all of the workouts tomorrow.
“I’m doing everything [on Friday],” he said. I’m here to work.”
Smith, who started out at Baylor as a tight end, switched to tackle shortly after he scored the lone touchdown of his career. Of the four top tackles available in the draft, Smith is the most athletic of the group and has the potential to have an impact like Ryan Clady had with the Denver Broncos last season.
In saying that he’s the best tackle in the draft, it was interesting to learn that Smith didn’t speak with any of the teams selecting in the top-three (Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs) last night. But he did talk with the Seattle Seahawks, who hold the No. 4 selection.
Alex Mack provided an update on his right ankle that he sprained on Monday.
"It'll be all right, it's doing better," he said. "I'll see what I can do on Saturday, but no one is more disappointed than I was."
The center out of California noted that his wrestling experience has been beneficial to his football career.
"It taught me how to work hard," he said. "Wrestling is a tough sport, it's one-on-one, you versus the other guy. It teaches you that whatever you put into it is going to come out on the wrestling mat. If you lose, you can only blame yourself. So it taught me how to work hard, and taught me how to be mean, I think."
“I’ve changed my eating habits this offseason and I’m trying to maintain my weight,” Smith said. “I feel comfortable at my playing weight of 330 pounds and that’s my target. The weight issue isn’t a problem for me; I’ll be fine.”
Conditioning may be a problem for Smith, but there's no denying his talent on the field.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty
A potential top-ten pick, Smith has already met with a number of teams in Indianapolis, notably the Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and New York Jets. Interestingly, the teams that he mentioned hold selections outside of the top-ten.
Smith, who left Alabama after his junior season and was suspended for the Sugar Bowl after he had inappropriate dealings with an agent, said that he’s still undecided if he will workout. He said that he’s likely to make his decision on Friday after he weighs his options with his agent.
“I want to get my [workout] numbers down more,” he said, in regards to possibly missing tomorrow’s workout. “I’m not happy with my numbers at this point and I want them to be the best that they can be.”
If Smith decides to skip his workout on Friday, his Pro Day is scheduled for March 11th.
Florida offensive tackle Jason Watkins said that the early stages of the Combine have been "mind blowing."
"I didn't realize how long it was really going to be from morning to night when you wake up. Everything is non-stop." he said.
Watkins has gained experience at both the right tackle and left tackle positions during his college career.
"When I do all of my drills, I work both sides, I never just do one, because I never know where I might be placed," he said.
Watkins said that he hopes to run the 40 in the 5.1- to 5.2-second range, and is shooting for at least 25 reps on the bench press.
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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.