Vanderbilt has never been known as a breeding ground for NFL talent. The 2008 draft will change that in a hurry for the Commodores with four potential draftees possibly taken in the first four or five rounds. Curtis Gatewood is the least publicized but could become a hot property for teams which employ the 34 defensive fronts.
Entering his college career as a 210-pound linebacker, the prospect grew into a new role as a 6' 2" 248-pound defensive end. As a newly minted defensive lineman, Gatewood went on to lead the Commodores in sacks over the past two seasons with 10.5 in total, although his sack numbers dipped from 7 as a junior to 3.5 in total as a senior.
While his numbers were not as good as expected during his final season, Gatewood does show an ability to run the ring, uses his hands well, and held up well against the run in the talent-laden SEC. Participating in this year's edition of the East/West Shrine Game as a linebacker, the former Commodore made a few plays and displayed the ability to move in space for scouts.
An interesting workout number of note is Gatewood's three-cone drill times. His straight line speed is average - his 40 yard dashes are timed in the 4.7 range - but his three-cone timing was third best of all the defensive linemen at the Combine.
While run in shorts and t-shirts, a rule of thumb is that the three-cone drill is the best indicator of lateral quickness and how fluid a linebacker prospect is. Gatewood is a classic "tweener" whose combination of previous linebacking experience, good athleticism, and pass rush ability make him an especially intriguing prospect for team's searching for potential 3-4 outside linebackers.
Do the Boilermaker's even play defense? To the surprise of many Big10 fans, they do, and there is has been some serious talent on that side of the ball in previous years.
This year, another athletically-gifted potential linebacker from Purdue will be on plenty of teams' radars. Stanford Keglar's computer numbers from this year's NFL Combine read as such: 6 feet 2 inches tall, 239 pounds, 29 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, a broad jump of 10 feet and 6 inches (both best among all the linebackers in attendance), 6.70 second three-cone drill, and a 4.63 forty yard dash timing. He then improved on some of his numbers at the Purdue pro day posting a 4.55 forty yard dash, 39 inch vertical jump, and 4.17 second short shuttle.
His family is certainly talented as well. Stanford's father, Shelvy, played basketball at Arkansas St. His cousin, Astin Steward, is an Olympic hopeful in the discus.
The question remains, how much of his talent actually translates to the field? Keglar started 41 contests in total for the Boilermakers throughout his career and was fourth on the team with 70 total tackles, four of which are for a loss.As a senior Keglar, was also a team captain.
A smart player who is comfortable dropping back in coverage but does struggle with his overall tackling technique, Keglar can be engulfed at the point of attack, and is not much of a pass rusher from the linebacker position.One red flag can be found in the prospect's past - NFL teams likely have thoroughly investigated this situation prior to the draft.During his senior campaign, Keglar was charged with misdemeanor counts of battery, false informing, and disorderly conduct after a night club incident. He has since gone on to graduate with a degree in sociology.
Preparing for the draft under the guidance of former Cincinnati Bengal and Georgia Bulldog, David Pollack, Keglar has all the tools to be very successful at the next level after likely being a mid round selection but many will question whether he is more athlete than actual football player.