A conversation with 3-4 end Corey Wootton

Northwestern DE Corey Wootton is an intriguing prospect, who could sneak into the late first round. He is one of the best 3-4 end prospects in the draft. Here is a chat with Wootton, who grew up a few minutes from the Meadowlands.

Q)How is your knee feeling, the one you hurt at the end of your junior year?

Wootton: I'd say I'm about 90 percent now. I'm doing all the drills but I'm still not 100 percent.

Q)What are NFL doctors saying about the knee at this point?

Wootton: They said it was good, it was nice and tight, just like it's supposed to be after surgery.

Q)You clearly weren't yourself as a senior because of the knee . . .

Wootton: I still didn't have the same burst and explosion I had back in 2008, playing the season in the 70s, percentagewise. This off-season has been huge for me just being able to train my legs like I did before the season.

Q)What kind of questions, aside from medical ones, are you gettin from teams?

Wootton: A lot of teams want to know if you love the game of football, if it is a priority in your life. I've been asked a few questions about schemes, they just want to know my football knowledge about things.

Q)How close were you to coming out before you got hurt?

Wootton: I was pretty close. I was definitely heavily considering it, just because of the year I had. But ultimately I don't know at the end of the day what I would have done. I was definitely after the game sitting down with my parents and coach [Pat] Fitzgerald and be able to decide.

Q)What grade did you receive from the NFL advistory people last year?

Wootton: About a late first, early second.

Q)Was it a difficult decision to pass on the Senior Bowl?

Wootton: I think it made sense because the training staff I was working with thought it was best for me to focus on the strength training because I was responding well to it. They thought it was best for me to get back to the point I wanted to be as far as the burst and the speed.

Q)Would you feel comfortable playing 5-technique (defensive end) in a 3-4?

Wootton: I would feel very comfortable. I feel I can play the run pretty well, I've showed people I can play at 285.

Q)Have teams asked you about playing 3-4 end?

Wootton: Definitely, they ask me if I can be up to 290 and I definitely feel like I can. I have a frame I can add a lot of weight on and not add too much fat onto it.

Q)Do you have a degree yet? Wootton: Yes, I graduated in the winter with a degree in communication and African-American studies.

Q)As a Northwestern kid, obviously it's a great school and you are a bright guy, how do you convince teams you love football and it's a priority in your life?

Wootten: This game means more than anything to me. Coming back from this injury, I could have sat out the whole year, got my leg to where I wanted it to be and then came to the Combine process. But I love the game so much I wanted to come back at 5 1/2, 6 months even though I wasn't barely even 70 percent. This game means everything to me, I don't want to sit out for one second.

Q)Do you ever regret playing this year at 70 percent?

Wootten: Not at all. This year was good for me just to get the rust off. If I would have sat out the whole year coming back next year I would have had the rust. So I knocked off the rust so now I'm still in the process of getting that final 10 percent back, my burst and my speed that I had, and I'll have it back during the season for whatever team picks me.

Q)Were you playing with your hand on the ground at Northwestern or were you a stand-up player?

Wootten: I was playing with my hand on the ground but I was able to drop a lot. I had four interceptions in my career, so dropping into the flat with the curl is not a big issue for me and I've expressed that to teams that may be interested in me as a 3-4 linebacker possibly.

Q)What system do you think would be the best fit for you at the next level?

Wootten: I think I could do anything that the team needs me to do, whether they want me to play the five-technique and two-gap, I think I could do that. If they want me to play a 4-3 end and come off the edge or play a 3-4 linebacker, I think I can make the transition.

Q)So you can see yourself getting up to 290 for a 3-4 team and playing left end?

Wootten: Definitely. I don't feel like that should be hard at all. I have the frame to be able to support that and I think I can carry it well.

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