NFL Draft Notebook: Raji's Head Games

Find out what some players who the Colts could be interested in, including Boston College DT B.J. Raji, Maryland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Troy defensive back Sherrod Martin, Ball State OT Robert Brewster and Iowa CB Bradley Fletcher recently told Senior NFL Analyst Ed Thompson in this edition of the NFL Draft Notebook.

  • The Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams were among the more than 20 teams who had formal interviews at the Combine with Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji. And while the bullish defensive tackle is well-respected for the physical nature of his game, he told that he made some of his biggest strides in performance during his senior year because of the progress he made in understanding the mental aspects of playing his position.
  • "I understood the game a lot more than I did in previous years," Raji explained. "I better understood how I was going to be attacked, at pre-snap I was able to get some good reads, whether it was going to be a double-team or how a player was going to block me. So that helped me choose what moves to use." 

    Raji will put his moves, football knowledge and talent on display during an upcoming private workout with the Denver Broncos on March 20.

  • Iowa's Bradley Fletcher caught the attention of pro scouts during a break-out senior year. The former Hawkeyes cornerback intercepted three passes, defended ten, made 60 tackles, and forced a fumble—all this from a player who didn't become a season-long starter until his senior year.

    "My sophomore and junior year, I had starts in those years, but my senior year was the only one where I was a full-time starter. That last year, I put more time into improving my footwork and looking at film," he said. "I still think my greatest football is still yet to be played, and I hope I get to express that at the next level."

    Fletcher said he'll probably run his 40-yard dash and do the vertical jump again at Iowa's Pro Day on March 23rd. He's drawn interest from a number of teams, including the Detroit Lions and the Denver Broncos, who both got to know him better during formal interviews at the NFL Combine.

  • WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
    AP Photo/Nick Wass

  • The New York Jets were just one of the teams who spent some time with Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey following his Pro Day. The Jets are in need of a top talent after losing Laveranues Coles through free agency to the Cincinnati Bengals.

    Heyward-Bey is a legitimate deep threat who has to be accounted for on every play. Highly respected for his speed, he backed-up his reputation at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis by posting a 4.30-second 40-yard dash time, tops among all of the wide receivers. 

    "Being able to make the big play and change the momentum of a game, that's something I love to do," Heyward-Bey told "That's something that (Maryland Head) Coach Friedgen always pushed me to do. Because of the style of offense we played, being able to take a 5-yard hitch and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown is something I love to bring to the game."

    In 2008, the versatile receiver not only caught 42 passes for 609 yards, averaging 14.5 yards per catch, he also rushed for 202 yards.

  • A representative from the New York Giants was one a number of scouts and coaches who visited with Ball State offensive tackle Robert Brewster following his Pro Day workout to learn more about him. And another NFC East team, the Washington Redskins, were among the teams who held a formal interview with him at the NFL Scouting Combine.

    Both teams have undoubtedly noted the 6-foot-4, 325-pound lineman's strong mix of talent and high character, but also his incredible durability. Brewster never missed a single snap for the Cardinals during his college career.

    "I started and played 50 games, never missing a play," he said during a recent interview with "A lot of people have been surprised by that and couldn't believe it, but I just worked hard every day and kept on grinding. When it came to game time, there was no stopping me."

  • The Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans were just a few of the teams who talked to Troy free safety Sherrod Martin following his strong Pro Day performance. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound safety reportedly posted a 4.45 40-time and a 37-inch vertical jump.

    The personable and upbeat player told that many teams are also looking at him as a cornerback at the pro level since he has experience there and as a nickel-back.

    "For the most part, I've had teams talk to me about both," he said. "They've been testing my knowledge and how I move at both positions."

    Martin, who also looked sharp at the Senior Bowl, was one of the top performers at his position during the Combine in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and the 60-yard shuttle. During the 2008 season, he made 94 tackles and picked-off four passes.

  • Click the player names to learn more about B.J. Raji, Bradley Fletcher, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Robert Brewster, and Sherrod Martin.

    A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at You can follow him on Twitter for NFL updates and insights. And you can contact him by email through this link.

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