NFL Draft prospect helped by NFL ties

One offensive tackle prospect has had the benefit of working out at an NFL camp and getting to know some of the players at the next level. Coupled with his impressive stock, he is drawing interest from a number of teams looking for help along the line.

Playing for the Pitt Panthers has afforded Rob Petitti the opportunity to practice at a training facility shared by the Steelers and Panthers. He has been able to get to know players who are excelling at the pro level.

"I know some of the Steelers," said Pettiti. "Just to see that they are human too. You don't think that – they are professionals. We see them practice all the time. It was good to see and I kind of knew what to expect. I just watch them practice and play. I don't ask many questions. I watch the tackles of Pittsburgh and try and pick stuff up to help myself out."

Watching Marvell Smith practice and learning the intricacies of playing left tackle in the NFL is invaluable to a prospect about to make the journey into the NFL.

Pettiti is best known for his work against Mathias Kiawanuka, keeping the defensive end without a sack and doing the same to draft prospect Justin Tuck.

Derailed by a turf toe injury during Senior Bowl week, Pettiti did not work out at the Combines but did lose 15 pounds from his mammoth frame. He would like to lose another ten pounds to be in prime playing shape.

Despite having his leg wrapped in the lobby of the Riverview Hotel in Mobile, the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Steelers, and San Diego Chargers caught up with him for an interview session.

Although he played exclusively at left tackle for the Panthers, Pettiti is working out at both left and right tackle in anticipation of his Pro Day on March 15.

"I have been working for about six weeks on (playing right tackle)," he said. "I have been working with Coach (Tom) Lovat, he used to coach for the Green Bay Packers, in Florida and he has been helping me out a lot. I feel pretty comfortable with it. I have played left my whole life but I have to be athletic enough and show them I can play both ways.

"It is getting used to my kick step. My run blocking is the same and that is not a problem for me. When I kick back and go against a guy with speed it might be a little awkward. I just have to practice and I will get better at it."

For Pettiti, this is a dream come true and one that he didn't even realize he had. When he first began playing football it wasn't to make it into the NFL. His hopes weren't quite that high.

He had passion for the game and now that he is on the doorstep to the NFL he can look back with a sense of amazement.

"I am happy I am at this point," Pettit admitted. "I didn't think I would get this far. After my sophomore year I thought I was improving pretty well and I had a good chance to make it. I still have things to improve upon but my chances are getting better."

As a senior, he earned an unanimous selection to the All-Big East team and was named a second-team All American by the Sporting News. A leader on the offensive line, he propelled the Panthers to the Tostidos Bowl.

With the draft just over a month away, he has an affinity towards the city he played in and grew to love. Having seen the Steel Curtain keep Ben Roethlisberger safe last year, he could envision himself as part of that line. He also says the Patriots would be an ideal fit.

"I really like the Steelers because I love the city," Pettiti admitted. "I like the way they play. New England has a real special thing going. They don't always pick the best players but they pick guys that will fit in."

In the end, he knows the choice isn't up to him and he is fine with that. He does have one requirement for the team that picks him:

"I want to play with team players who want to win."

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