What was your Senior Bowl experience like?
It was a great experience. We showed up on Saturday and kind of got to know everybody the first couple of days. We really didn't know what to expect at that first practice. When we got out there, it was full go and it was very intense and a very fun atmosphere if you love football and you love competition.
Abdul and I got after it. We helped each other learn the system quick in a day, and we went out there and played very, very well.
Was there anything that surprised you, good or bad?
I wasn't really surprised by anything. I kind of expected everything that I got. I was talking to people that had been there in the past, former players from here who have been to the Senior Bowl.
I guess if there was a surprise, it was that I had was that it's hard to separate yourself in a situation like that. It's hard to separate whether I'm a better player than so-and-so because you're only there for a few days. Everybody is just learning the system like you are. So, it's hard to go in there in a week's time and show yourself and show what you've done over four years. In that way, it's almost a disadvantage if you had a great body of work for four years. It's almost as if you're at a little bit of a disadvantage coming in there. It's really hard to separate yourself and show how good you've been.
Did you feel like people were more interested in what you could do as a football player or that you looked good running the 40 and lifting weights?
When we first got there, the weight-in and stuff took place. I guess more than anything, it's to put a face with a name and a body with a name. It was basically folks getting a look at the piece of meat they were trying to buy and whether it was a T-bone or a sirloin.
To me, it's not about what you look like. There are guys that look like beasts and play like lambs. So in that aspect, when we first got there, that's kind of the feeling you got. But as the week got started on Monday and Tuesday when we really started hitting heads, it was more about the football. You could tell that the questions kind of changed after like on Tuesday when they wanted to start asking questions about the practices and how things were going.
Did you get a feel who might be interested in you, if there were any specific teams that showed interest?
I thought that it would be more clear cut about who was interested and who wanted to take a look at you hard. But it really wasn't as clear cut as I thought it would be. It was more that the guys asking questions were the scouts, whether it be the area or regional scouts or the head scouts. All they wanted to do was get to know more about who you are and where you come from, more about what makes you love the game of football. There are really vague questions trying to get to know you.
But you could kind of tell some interest. The linebacker coach of the Giants would come to talk to you at the end of practice or the Browns player personnel guy comes to talk to you after practice. Things like that you could kind of get a glimpse of who was interested just by the people that kind of came up and said, "How ‘ya doin'?
You put a heck of a body of work together at Iowa. Teams have that. What else are you trying to show these people?
What I wanted to do at the Senior Bowl was go there and answer absolutely any question that anybody had about my ability to play football, whether it be to take on blocks, drop into pass coverage, take the backs one on one, rush the passer. I wanted to answer any questions that anybody had. That's what I felt like I did.
I did have a great four years of football here at Iowa. I wanted to go the Senior Bowl and just put a stamp on it and prove to everybody that I can be a top-tier linebacker in the NFL and be a pro-bowl level guy within my first, hopefully, few years in the league. Hopefully I answered their questions.
Do you have an idea where you might be picked?
I really think that I'm a really solid middle first-round pick. That's kind of the feeling I have. I talked to a lot of teams like the Chiefs and Chargers and Cowboys. I talked to the Bears, who pick later on in the first round. The feeling that I got was that you're not going to be around when we pick at 25. They said, "You're not going to be on the board when we pick, but we'd love to have you be a Bear. I got three or four of those teams that said that who pick anywhere from 20 to 32. To me that says that the buzz around the league or the people that are making the decisions really have a feeling that I'm a solid middle of the first-round guy. Hopefully with the combine and the body of work at the Senior Bowl, I can move of the ladder a little bit.
Would you rather go to a place that's a good fit for you or be a high pick?
At this level, it is about business and feeding your family. But to me, the success and the money will come with a good fit. It's not about how high you get picked, it's about the team you go to. (Former USC and Seahawks linebacker) Lofa Tatupa is a great example. He was picked in the middle of the second round or maybe third, but he's going to the pro bowl (as a rookie) and he's playing in the Super Bowl. It was because it was the right fit. It wasn't because he was a Top 10 pick.
Right. Bob Sanders was a second-round guy. If he's two inches taller, he's a Top 10 pick. But he fell to the Colts in the second round and he's a pro bowler. And they had a great season, too. It's just about where you fit in with a defense and a team.
What are you doing to keep busy so you don't think about this stuff all the time?
The lifting used to take an hour and a half now take closer to three. You're just trying to do the little things to try to improve yourself. You stay on top of the little injuries you've had, like a shoulder. You rehab with that thing. There's just a lot of stretching just to try to get yourself ready for that combine in a couple of weeks. You do a lot of thinking. You'd don't have a lot of stuff going on here In Iowa City now that schools over. Basically, I just bum around, read a couple of books and play video games.
Matt Roth said he was cooking a lot this time last year. That's tough to picture.
(Laughs) I've been cooking my own meals. You want to get your diet squared away. When you get to the season, you kind of just eat what's there because of time. Now that you have the time, you cook good for yourself and try to eat healthy.
How much are you and Abdul conversing and exchanging information through this process? Are you going through this process together?
Oh yeah. We roomed together at the Senior Bowl. We work out every day together. We'll probably room together at the combine. We're really just taking what we did here at Iowa and taking it to the next level. We work together as much as we can because we know are each other's best assets. We keep each other working, to drive to be the best. Maybe we'll end up on the same team. You never know.
How do you view the Mel Kipers and other draftnicks?
Guys like Mel Kiper, who sometimes are correct, it's hard as a player to sit there and listen to those guys. It' so up in the air and they're not making the decisions. Everything is going to change when it comes to the draft. It's hard to really put a lot of heed in that, you know.