2004 Draft Prospect Interview: Stuart Schweigert

While many top prospects at other positions chose not to work out at last month's NFL Combine, most of the top prospects at safety had no problem with showing off their skills for the NFL coaches and scouts in attendance.

That's because after Miami (Fla.) prospect Sean Taylor, there was no clear cut second-rated safety on most team's draft boards.

Purdue's Stuart Schweigert may have changed that with his performance in Indianapolis.

Scouts already knew the 6-2, 218-pound had ideal size to play safety in the NFL. And they also knew because of his school-record 17 interceptions - five more than Rod Woodson had as a Boilermaker - that Schweigert possesses excellent ball skills.

But Schweigert really opened eyes when he ran a pair of blistering 4.45-second 40s on the notoriously slow track at Indianapolis, one of the best times clocked by the safety prospects who chose to run there.

"I wanted to do everything there so I could be a little more laid back at (Purdue's) pro day," said Schweigert, a four-year starter at free safety.

He not only did that, but coupled with his performance at the Senior Bowl, Schweigert also firmly established himself as a player who will hear his name called during the first day of next month's draft.

That's not bad for a guy who was recruited by Nebraska as an option quarterback and went to Purdue thinking he was an offensive player.

"As a high school guy, I was an offensive player, but when I got to Purdue, there was a spot open at free safety," Schweigert said. "Ever since that fall, I never looked back. I fell in love with defense."

Schweigert immediately realized his future was as a defensive player after setting a school freshman record with five interceptions, including two off of former Indiana quarterback and current Steelers wide receiver Antwaan Randle El deep in Boilermakers' territory during a Purdue win in 2000.

The coaching staff offered to allow him to play offense also that spring, but Schweigert chose to concentrate on defense after winning Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.

"They gave me the opportunity to play both," Schweigert said. "But since I had that freshman year where I saw quite a bit of playing time, I decided to concentrate on defense."

Schweigert likely would have left Purdue after his junior season, but he missed the opener that season with a sprained knee and then had a nagging calf injury dog him throughout that remainder of that season. So he stayed in school, hoping to put together a strong senior season.

After picking off just two passes as a junior, he rebounded with four interceptions as a senior, adding 2.5 sacks and 89 tackles to boot.

Then, at the Senior Bowl, he showed teams he was more than just a centerfielder as he showed off his coverage skills in some of the different drills.

"I was a little worried about my man-to-man skills because I hadn't done it, but once I got there, I forgot about that and just went and played," Schweigert said. "I got an interception in one-on-ones and we did a press release drill where I got up and pressed the receivers. But I think I had a pretty good week."

Even so, man-to-man isn't his strength. Schweigert is at his best when the ball is in the air.

"I think the strength of my game is my instincts," he said. "I think I get a pretty good break on the ball and I think that led to a lot of my interceptions. I want to be in on every single play. On a run play, even if I'm blitzing, I want to run back down field and make a play. I always want to be around the pile and touch the ball carrier."

One downside for Schweigert will be some minor problems he had with alcohol while at Purdue. He was twice charged with underage drinking as a freshman and last spring was charged with public drunkenness after failing a field sobriety test when a vehicle driven by him was pulled over by police. A more serious charge of drunken driving was thrown out because of a technicality.

But Schweigert feels he answered many of those character questions and more during the infamous interview sessions at the combine.

"There's some really strange stuff there," he said. "The New York Giants test was pretty crazy. It was like 180 true or false and about eight pages of fill in the blank. 'Would you rather be a dog or a cat?' 'Did you ever think about killing someone?' It's just kind of off the wall stuff. The Houston Texans test was pretty nice. It was like problem solving. You would do a peg board with another guy on the other side and you're trying to tell him where to you're are at, but he's looking at it from a different way. It was catching bean bags with goggles on that mess up your vision."

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