Ex-Sun Devils Look to Make Splash in Combine

Derek Hagan is already in Indianapolis. In less than two days Dale Robinson and Jamar Williams will join him at the what some call the largest meat market on this planet, better known as the NFL combine. Devils Digest caught up with the only three maroon and gold players that will partake in this event to talk about their preparations, as well as their expectations for the draft.

Derek Hagan, ranked the 9th best receiver in the draft by Scout.com, told us that his pre-combine drills focused a lot on improving his 40-yard dash and 20-yard shuttle times, as well as preparing in general for the receiver drills he will be going through in the next 48 hours.

Thursday was the Pac-10's all-time leading receiver's first day at the combine, and he agreed that the term meat market is an accurate description for this affair. "They pick at you, watch you, throw you off…trying to see if something is wrong with you," he said. "The combine is something that you can try to prepare for, but you really have to experience it for yourself to really understand what it's all about. People can tell you that you have be really patient in the combine, but you really can't understand it until you've been waiting in some kind of line for three or four hours. But I can't say I'm really surprised so far with what's being going on here."

Hagan, by his own admission as well as by the opinions of NFL draft observers, had a rough week of practice leading up to the Senior Bowl. Even though he did catch a touchdown in the game, his shortcomings during the contest seemed to be magnified. "I have to shake it off ," he commented on his bowl performance, "and know that the coaches out there have a lot of film on me and know what I can do. I don't feel that I should be judged on a week of practice and one game – I've been playing football all my life."

Unfairly or not, due to aforementioned display, Hagan's stock has dropped dramatically and the prevailing notion seems to be that the earliest he will get drafted is in the low second round. Thus, does he feel that a good combine can erase that bowl performance from the minds of the NFL observers? "I don't know if the coaches remember that game now, because they know I'm better than that," he replied. "One bad week of practice can happen to any player. You have a lot of coaches and general managers here at the combine, and you'll also have some coaches watching you at Pro Day (slated to take place at ASU on March 10th)."

Linebackers will report to Indianapolis on Saturday, and Dale Robinson (pictured) is eagerly awaiting his cross-country trip. Ranked as the fourth-best middle linebacker in the draft by Scout.com, it's no wonder the reigning Co-Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Year is anxious to strut his talents for the pros.

Robinson has been training in the valley with the renown Coach Mo, who has trained the likes of other former Sun Devil players such as Terrell Suggs and Shaun McDonald in preparations to their pre-draft workouts. The linebacker has been pleased with his progress under his coach's program. "I've been doing a lot of speed work on the track and also up on the hills," Robinson commented. "I've been working on my technique, agility drills… I'm a quick sideline to sideline player. I do very well in my lateral drills, the shuttle, all the linebacker drills…coaches look also for strength and I feel that I can show that too."

"I really feel I'm prepared for the combine," Robinson continued. "I'm also watching a lot of film to get myself prepared, so I can do what I do best when I go out there. I'm looking forward to going up there and having some fun."

In terms of his draft status, Robinson seems to be a lock to end up as a first day pick. "They got me projected middle second round to early third," he stated. "If things go really well in Indianapolis, they say I maybe can sneak into the late first round. My game tape is real good, and I haven't seen too many linebackers do what I did on film – so I feel real confident."

Injuries have kept Robinson not only out of most of the Insight Bowl at the end of his senior season, but also out of pre-NFL combine bowls such as the Senior Bowl Hagan participated in. Nevertheless, his physical condition is no longer an issue as he embarks on this major event and the workouts to follow. "I'm 100% healthy now, and that's the reason why I didn't go to the Senior Bowl," Robinson explained, "so I can heal up and be healthy for the combine and show the coaches what I can do. If I went to that bowl it would set me back."

Jamar Williams is coming into the combine with much less fanfare than his two former teammates, but with just as much confidence. "I'm feeling very well right now," he said. "I trained hard for the last few weeks and I'm ready to go. I went over every aspect of the combine and I feel prepared. I don't feel even a little nervous."

Williams is projected by Scout.com as the 24th best outside linebacker in the draft, which would imply that he would be a certainty to be picked in the second day of the draft. The linebacker begs to differ with that perception. "My agent feels that I can get drafted the first day. I just want to have a good combine and move up the charts."

For all the latest NFL combine and draft coverage, please visit TheNFLExperts.com

Sun Devil Source Top Stories