Many came to get a closer look at Pittsburgh native Dorin Dickerson after his strong performance during the NFL Combine last month, and they weren't disappointed. Dickerson, however, did not run or lift weights since he tested so well over several days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.
"I just did the individual drills, and they went real well, but I really would have liked to do more blocking drills,'' Dickerson said. "They really didn't want to see me do any blocking, though. They wanted to see me run routes and catch passes as a tight end and receiver. I was prepared to do more blocking, but all the other stuff comes a lot easier for me. So, it went really well.
"Most (scouts) said I would be a flex tight end, like we did here at Pitt. So, that's a good thing that teams are willing to do that for me. It's what I'm best-suited for, I think. So, I could be an H-back or something like that. It took a long time for me to find that niche here, but I did pretty well once I got the chance. Thankfully, I had Coach Cignetti here, and he did such a great job with me.''
Dickerson also praised offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti for helping players improve like wideout Jonathan Baldwin and running back Dion Lewis, who have a chance to earn All-America honors as a junior and sophomore, respectively, this season.
Dickerson also noted that his roommate and best friend, quarterback Bill Stull, was able to blossom under Cignetti's guidance. Stull believed that Dickerson, who had 49 catches for 529 yards and a Pitt-record 10 touchdowns as a senior last fall, could be just as successful in the NFL.
"Well, besides the fact that he's a freak, he's just a mismatch waiting to happen at tight end. And it's just a matter of what team and what offensive coordinator can utilize that matchup the way that we did last year.
"Whether it's as a receiver, fullback or tight end and coming from the slot, wide or the backfield, he played everything for us. He's very explosive and a high-powered athlete, and I know he'll have a great career.''
Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt wasn't as effusive in praising Dickerson, but he still believed the 6-foot-2, 228-pound athlete would have a length pro career.
"I think he just played consistent,'' Wannstedt said. "When his number was called, he responded. Everybody knows how fast he is and how strong he is, but they want to see how well he can catch the ball and make guys miss and make some plays. And he did that. Nate Byham and Dorin will both be drafted.
"I don't know where, but I know they'll be playing on Sunday's next year. So, we've gotten very good feedback from the scouts about them. ... And I think a lot of our guys have a chance to get into a camp somewhere. They're all good players and can play. All you need to do is watch their tape.''
Wannstedt believed that a team that utilizes double tight end-sets would benefit with a player like Dickerson who they could move around to force a mismatch. Dickerson also believed he would be some sort of tight end or H-back in the NFL, but not a wideout like he was at the Senior Bowl due to a shortage of players at that position.
"I really didn't start thinking about the NFL until after the Combine,'' Dickerson said. "I didn't know if I was going to get drafted, and I definitely didn't know where I would go. I still don't, but it was a little bit of a relief after the Combine, because I did really well and got a lot of attention. People say I'm a man without a position, but I'm trying to get through it, even though it's been tough.
"I talked to the Steelers (Monday), Coach Tomlin and Mr. Colbert, and it went real good. They have a great tight end in Heath Miller, but I believe I've shown that I'm versatile ... and that is better than playing one position. I can play fullback, tight end, slot receiver or even linebacker if somebody wants me to do that. I think I can do it all if I need to.
"The teams said they'll be calling me within the next couple days to set up individual workouts for me, teams like the Browns, the Chargers and Baltimore,'' Dickerson added with little to no conviction when mentioning Cleveland. "But the Browns, I'm a Steelers fan, but if I get drafted by the Browns that will be the place for me.''
Dickerson was the fastest tight end at the NFL Combine with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and, actually, only three players -- two running backs and a wideout -- were faster. His 43.5-inch vertical jump also was the best among everyone on offense with only cornerback A.J. Jefferson from Fresno State hitting 44 inches. His 10-feet, 5-inch broad jump was the best for tight ends as well.
There also were some terrific performances by ex-Panthers at Pro Day:
In the bench press, 225 pounds for maximum repetitions, Robb Houser and Craig Bokor had the most with 33 and 31, respectively. John Malecki, Gus Mustakas and Mick Williams all had 25 reps each.
Aaron Berry ran well in the 40-yard dash with some high 4.3s and low 4.4s by several different scouts. Berry broad-jumped 10 feet, 3 inches, and his vertical was 37 inches. Oderick Turner did not run due to a sore hamstring, but he had a broad jump at 10-8 with a 37-inch vertical.
Nate Byham said he improved all his times and distances from what he accomplished at the NFL Combine. He also was able to display his athleticism and hands in the pass-catching drills and devastating blocking ability (but not as much as he would have liked).
Some of the big guys have gotten bigger since the season ended: Byham stayed the same at 265 pounds, but Mustakas is up to 285 from his playing weight of 270. And Malecki was up to 298 from about 280.