Tennessee's Brad Cottam has already had personal workouts with the Dolphins, Chiefs, Falcons, Browns and Jets tight ends coaches while getting ready for his first two official visits. And on April 6, he'll be in Tennessee to visit with the Titans, and then on the April 15 he'll head to St. Louis to meet with the Rams.
During an interview with Scout.com, Cottam agreed that having the opportunity to learn from Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez would be an incredible opportunity.
"I think that would be a great situation to go in there and have someone who has been to all of those Pro Bowls who can teach you everything," he said. "You can't play forever, so eventually you get to have the chance to fill their shoes and use what you learned from them."
Cottam's been getting good feedback from the coaches he's met with in regards to his abilities and how he would fit in their NFL offensive schemes.
"Most people see my size and think of me as a guy who is going to be able to block. I think it's hard, especially in the NFL, to find someone who can block." he said. "I've asked each coach what they would want me to work on the most if they were to draft me between now and the time I would go to minicamp. Usually I get different answers from everybody, but most people are saying, "Always stay down low."
The 6-foot-8, 270-pound tight end is doing his best to be patient while he waits for NFL draft weekend. And while the first two teams he'll be visiting have distinctly different quarterbacks — Marc Bulger and Vince Young — he says he'll be happy working for any team and whichever quarterback is willing to throw the ball to him.
"It's crazy, because I don't know where I'm going to be a month from now," Cottam said with a laugh. "I could be with any type of team with any type of quarterback. But I'm sure it will all work out."
Sleeper pick on the rise
Middle Tennessee defensive end Tavares Jones is one of this year's tweeners who could play outside linebacker at the pro level. Although he'll most likely be a priority undrafted free agent, don't be surprised if a team uses a seventh-round pick to keep him from entering the post-draft bidding for undrafted talent.
DE Tavares Jones
Photo: Middle Tennessee Athletics
At Middle Tennessee's pro day on March 17, only seven teams sent scouts, but
five of the seven were playoff teams in 2007. Representatives from the Browns,
Giants, Packers, Colts, Rams, Patriots and Cowboys were on hand to
check out Jones and the team's other top prospect, offensive tackle Franklin
Dunbar. Dunbar would have benefited by another year of development, but declared for
the draft a year early due to family financial problems.
The 6-foot-1, 242-pound Jones was named first-team All-Sun Belt by coaches and the media after leading his team in both tackles (61) and sacks (7) for the season. He posted 9.5 tackles for a loss, an interception, a fumble recovery and forced a fumble during his senior campaign.
Those who have been following this year's draft prospects are familiar with a Division I FCS (formerly Division I-AA) cornerback who could be a first-round pick — Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie out of Tennessee State. But there's another impressive FCS cornerback worth keeping your eye on this month as we close in on draft weekend — Eastern Kentucky's Derrick Huff.
While he doesn't have Rodgers-Cromartie's speed, and as a result it hoping to hear his name called on Day Two of the NFL Draft, the talented corner and FCS All-American is just one of two players in the country to make nine interceptions during the 2007 season. He's heard from the Kansas City Chiefs twice in the past two weeks and will be working out for the Cincinnati Bengals on April 15th.
"It helps if you're real quick and real fast, but knowing your opponents in and out and thinking what they're thinking and their quarterback's thinking allows you to play football and not worry about speed and quickness," Huff told Scout.com.
As for his nine interceptions during his senior year, Huff credited his ability to adjust to the ball once it left the quarterback's hand.
"Sometimes I may have been beat by a step, but I knew that I could use my football abilities to get the ball once they threw it."
The Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year drew repeated interest from the Rams, Bills and Giants during his senior year. Part of the edge he brings to his position is his mindset when the whistle blows and the game begins.
"Of course you're going to give up a few passes here and there, but my mindset going into the game is no one should catch the ball on me," Huff said.
Sixteen NFL teams observed Eastern Kentucky's pro day, and according to one report provided to Scout.com, Huff measured in at 5-foot-11, 193 pounds, did 16 bench reps of 225 pounds, posted a 35-inch vertical, a 10-foot 2-inch broad jump. His 4.58-second 40-time won't help his cause, but scouts won't be able to ignore what they've seen on film from Huff as they evaluate his ability to make the leap to the NFL.