Tennessee tight end Brad Cottam has only caught 21 passes during his career at the University of Tennessee, but it's possible he will hear his name called by an NFL club before the end of the first day of the NFL Draft. If not, his should be one of the first names uttered on Day Two.
How can that be possible? Well, consider the fact that Cottam is 6-foot-8 inches tall and weighs in at roughly 275 pounds. Add to that some pretty darn impressive speed for a man his size, along with highly reliable hands, and you've got a tight end who will be a huge target with tremendous upside.
At the Senior Bowl, Cottam impressed scouts throughout the week. And on game day, he caught a touchdown pass to drive home the point that he was NFL-ready.
Cottam took a few minutes this week to talk with me about his Senior Bowl experience, his NFL prospects and preparing for the Combine.
Ed Thompson: You're just a couple of days away from the NFL Scouting Combine. How have your preparations for this event been going?
Brad Cottam: I've been working on technique. getting all the little things down. We've been running through a Combine simulation so we can get an idea of what we might run and how we might finish. This week it's calmed down a bit so that we can make sure we have our legs under us for the Combine.
Thompson: I know you have good speed, especially for a guy with your size. How's your forty-yard dash been looking as of late?
Cottam: I've been doing really well, and actually faster than I had expected.
Thompson: Brad, one of the really unusual situations that you bring to this year's draft is the fact that you caught just 21 passes during your college career at Tennessee, but still have a pretty decent chance at being a first-day pick.
Cottam: Yes. It's been unusual for me because I've had a few injuries. Between the start of my junior year and the start of my senior year, I missed a total of nine games at the start of the season. So I'm kind of a mystery pick. The Senior Bowl was huge for me, mainly because I didn't get to play in that many games. And I think a lot of people just weren't sure about who I am and whether I could run fast, or whatever. As huge as the Senior Bowl was for me, the Combine is going to be another big step for me since scouts didn't get to see me play many games.
Brad Cottam outruns Wisconsin's Xavier Harris in the Outback Bowl game for a score.
AP Photo/Winston Luzier
Thompson: You certainly had a good performance in the Senior Bowl, catching a touchdown pass during the game to boot. And I watched you during practice that week and liked the way you ran your routes and your skill catching the ball. Tell me what some of the scouts who watched you that week said about what they saw as they watched you at work.
Cottam: I heard a few of them say I was the most consistent all week in terms of not having good days and bad days, and kind of doing the same thing every day. Some said they were watching my blocking more than my receiving, which is something I've always had to work on. I had to put some weight on when I got to college. It was a little bit tough because we had to adjust to a new offense that none of us had run, but I was getting good feedback.
Thompson: Who were some of the teams you talked to? I'd imagine you had to be drawing a lot of interest.
Cottam: Boy, I had interviews with almost every team. I'd guess that there were only six or seven teams I didn't talk to. It was a busy week.
Thompson: If I talked to some of your teammates, what do you think they would they tell me about what kind of guy Brad Cottam is in the locker room?
Cottam: First of all, they'd probably tell you I'm a pretty quiet guy. I think they'd also tell you that I'm always doing the right thing -- I'm a really hard worker. Most people are surprised at how fast I am, especially for my size. I get along with everybody and try to help keep the team together.
Thompson: Well we need to explore your Tennessee connection a bit because the Colts have a former Volunteer at quarterback who I would imagine would enjoy having someone with your size and catching ability among his receivers. And all three of the Colts' tight ends are free agents this offseason to boot. With your size and well-rounded skill set, you remind me a bit of their No. 2 tight end, Ben Utecht, who is a restricted free agent. I know you met at least briefly with them down in Mobile...
Cottam: I talked with a couple of their scouts down there, so I'm sure sometime this week while I'm at the Combine I'll sit down with them. I'd love to go catch passes from Peyton. He comes up every summer at Tennessee and works with us, and it's just amazing what he can do. I've talked to him a couple of times when he's come up during the summer, and that would be a great place to go.
Thompson: Brad, what do you think are going to be the most important things for you to do well over the next few days in Indianapolis, both during the interviews and everything else they're going to put you through?
Cottam: A huge thing for me is going to be the playing time due to my past injuries, and everybody's going to be asking about that. There's not much I can do about that, and I think everything is going to be fine, but it's going to be a long medical evaluation for me. As far as the interviews, I'm not too worried about them since I went to the Senior Bowl and kind of went through the process. You just need to be yourself — I don't have anything to hide. I'm anxious to get started with the whole process.