University of South Florida linebacker Stephen Nicholas said he will visit the Ravens this week followed by a visit to the Jacksonville Jaguars on April 14. Here's a profile and Q&A on this draft prospect: Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 232 40: 4.80
Position: SLB, LB
Date of Birth: 5/1/1983
High School: Robert E. Lee HS
College: South Florida
2007 Scout.com NFL Draft Rankings (full list):
Pos: OLB Pos Rank: #7 Pos Rating:
Scout.com Player Evaluation:
Change of Direction
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
A hard-working defender who constantly plays at a high level, Nicholas offers starting potential in a one-gap system or on the weak-side.
Three-year starter awarded All-Conference honors after his junior and senior campaigns. Led the team in tackles last season posting 89/15.5/7.5. Totaled a career-high 98 tackles as a sophomore.
Instinctive linebacker who constantly makes positive plays. Diagnoses the action, picks up assignments and remains alert. Effectively uses his hands to protect himself, scrapes well in the box and strings plays laterally. Covers a good amount of area on the field and displays a burst of speed in every direction.
Undersized, is slow to shed blocks and can be taken from the action by opposing tight ends. Has tackles broken.
Stephen Nicholas Profile
What was it like getting off the plane at you first NFL combine?
"Getting off the plane it was a tad chilly and it was like ice rain or something, and there was snow on the ground, but it was all right."
Were you nervous at first?
"Yeah, definitely, I know you shouldn't be and yeah, yeah, yeah, but to go through that experience, the experience itself is something that you have to take in, you'll always probably remember for the rest of your life."
What did it feel like to be around the best talent?
"It felt good, lot of talent, but to me its just another player "
Did you see many players that you knew at the combine?
"I saw a guy that I kind of train with Tim Shaw from Penn State, but he's the only linebacker that I knew. My roommate was Jarvis Moss from Florida., We train together a little also."
Was it much different then any other combine you've been to?
"It's definitely different from other combines. There are scouts there and head coaches are there, guys you see on TV. It's something that you definitely just have to take all in."
At the combine you had 29 reps on bench, what was your highest at USF?
"Yes that was my most ever, I had a 24 at USF."
Did you do anything differently?
"Nothing, I just worked. Lifted weights. What it comes down to is it turning into your job after you graduate. Your job after you graduate turns into you training and getting prepared for the combine, and that's what I did. I didn't have to go to school any more so I was able to focus on that one thing, and put more into that.'
Did you know that you could get that many before the combine?
Were you surprised then?
"Yeah, you could say that"
How did you do in the other drills?
"The linebacker drills, I think I did pretty good in that, and in the vertical I did all right. A lot of things were just a little different then I thought, but I did all right."
Was there a reason why you didn't run at the combine?
"My ham was kind of bothering me a little bit, and it may be even better if I can get the guys that want to see me run come to USF. It is good to get some scouts to come and see some of these other guys here at South Florida. That would be good."
Were any certain teams showing interest?
"I talked to a couple of coaches, but it's kind of hard to tell who's showing interest with all the teams there. But I believe everybody was showing interest.
How do you think you did at the combine?
"How do I think I did personally? I think did okay. I did okay. I don't think I blew it out of the water, but I think I did okay.
Do you think you improved your stock while at the combine?
"Yeah, I think I did. Being in front of all those scouts, head coaches and general managers, its kind of hard not to improve your stock or hurt your stock. I think basically it helps to be in front of all of them."
At the weigh in you weighed in at 232 do you like the extra weight?
"I was playing at like 225 during the season. I like the extra weight, because I gained it right, I put all muscle on, it feels good and I can move with it."
Is there any fun while you're there or is it all business?
"Its mostly business, we didn't have a whole lot of down time. You're always meeting with somebody, coaches, GM's, all they want to set up little meetings. There wasn't much down time it was just business."
What was your highlight?
"Just going. Its something that you'll never forget, going to the weigh in, the measuring how long your arms are, your hands, height, weight, standing in front of all the coaches. People in the stands are looking at you on center stage, but I did it."
Was it different for the first time in five years practicing without the Bulls?
"Yeah, yes, definitely. You can definitely say that. I did play at the all-star game but this was different. There were a lot of people, scouts, coaches, its not something your used t seeing at practice. There are like 100 some people in the stands. Its something, I tell you that, its hard to explain, I was just trying to take it all in."
Speaking of the all-star game, what happened on the meaningless touchdown the last play of the game?
"Oh man, we didn't have enough people on the field. I was lined up at defensive end, I was supposed to be linebacker on that play, but we had no D-end so I was playing both D-end and linebacker, and got caught."
Is there anything that you want to accomplish at pro timing day this week?
"I just wan to go out and do what I always do and that's perform well."
What makes you stand out from other linebackers in this draft?
"I'm very mobile. I'm an athlete. I can run, I got speed to get sideline to sideline. I'm good at getting to the ball and knowing where the ball is. "
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.
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