"He was brought here as a tight end, so he will play both ways," Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said of Connor Barwin. "We call him three-way, in honor of his Cincinnati ties. He was also playing special teams too so we'll call him three-way. He'll have an opportunity to play in the game on defense some and he'll also play some tight end. He chose to come here and show his versatility like that, which is good. It's great for the teams to see, and he had a good time today, getting to put his hand on the ground again and get after the quarterback and chase the football."
Barwin is a very physical player, who will not shy away from contact anywhere on the football field. As a defensive end, he's developed a great spin move which he learned in just one year of playing defense. He's showed good hands and runs good routes while playing tight end. Throw in some special teams, and Barwin is a throwback player from the days of ironman football.
"I'm happy about it (slash),"Barwin said. "It's an opportunity for me to show I can play both positions because like Coach Lewis said I think teams have different ideas for me. Some teams like me at DE, some at TE, some at OLB, to have the opportunity to play both at this level is a good opportunity for me."
In his only season of playing defense, Barwin recorded 49 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 11 sacks, six passes defensed, seven quarterback hurries, and he even blocked three kicks. Veteran numbers from a novice at the position. Barwin spoke about practicing at each position during Senior Bowl week.
"It wasn't' that difficult, playing D-line is not like some of the other positions on defense such as secondary and linebacker is not as complicated," Barwin explained. "You have your gap and you stay in your gap. The transitions the first couple of days playing TE was a little harder because I played DE all season. Playing TE is a little more technical as far as steps and everything so that was a little more of an adjustment. Playing DE because I played it this whole season was a little more natural than playing TE."
The obvious question is what would Connor's position of choice be?
Barwin's Senior Bowl coach Marvin Lewis from the Cincinnati Bengals shed some light on Barwin's situation.
"It may be split," Lewis said. "There may be some teams that see him as a tight end prospect, and maybe some teams see him as a defensive end or outside linebacker prospect because I think defensively, he can do well there as well. The key thing is that he's on a team, you want to stay on a team. Versatility is a good thing, and guys like that can learn and understand and that's an advantage we have there this week."
Despite playing just one season at defensive end, Barwin is the seventh-ranked prospect at his position in April's draft, and with the Combine pending, Barwin is projected to be a second to third round pick. Barwin is scheduled to visit with the Jaguars on April 14-15, according to Scout.com.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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