Live from Indy! Defensive Players Check In

The Offensive players have checked in at the NFL Combine the past two days as Scout.com has brought you blogs from the media room and more. Today it's the defensive ends and linebackers as Scout.com continues its coverage live from Indianapolis.

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  • Yesterday Scout.com had more than 70 player updates in its Live Blog from Indy, and we've wrapped up another busy day. Check back on Sunday for more great coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine from Indianapolis!

    5:11 P.M. Ohio State DL Quinn Pitcock was asked multiple times about his versatility. "Some teams like me as a 3-4 DE, some as a 4-3 DT," he said.

    4:10 P.M. USC WR Dwayne Jarrett confirmed what Scout.com reported Thursday night -- he won't be working out at the Combine. Jarrett also told the media that he models his play after Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald. "I like how he approaches the game and uses his body," he said. And when asked if he'd be excited to join the Tennessee Titans if they drafted him this April since it would reunite him with former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow, he replied, "Definitely, he's been a great mentor."

    3:59 p.m. Louisville defensive tackle Amobi Okoye is one of the more intriguing stories in recent drafts. He was recruited to Louisville when he was 15 years old. He played as a true freshman at 16, and he's here in Indianapolis at 19 years old and ranked the No. 1 prospect at his position by Scout.com. "I never really felt younger than anyone else. It was always how I carried myself and my parents. My family did a really good job of bringing me up." Okoye also confirmed that he will be doing a full workout.

    3:38 p.m. Calvin Johnson could be the top overall pick in the draft, and he says it's his size, speed and strength that will do it. "I believe those combined will make me the ultimate player at this level," Johnson said.

    He believes he compares physically to Randy Moss and Terrell Owens with the attitude of Marvin Harrison, and he said it with biceps popping from under his short sleeves and his towering 6-foot-5, 239-pound frame over the podium. And …

    "I'm a big guy. I'm going to go out there and block because I've been doing that since high school," said Johnson, who has been working with former NFL wide receiver Torrance Small.

    The impressive numbers continue. He said there is "no doubt" he'll run a 4.4 40-yard dash and has a shot at running a 4.3, and he's had a 45-inch vertical.

    3:34 p.m.As the first player from Brown University to be invited to the NFL Combine, LB Zak DeOssie got some good advice from his father, Steve, who was a former NFL player. "He told me, you have to market yourself, you have to show confidence." So DeOssie held court around a crowded table in the media room, talking about how he'll be excited to contribute in any way at the NFL level, including special teams. "I'm a competitor," he said. "I think I'll be able to have an impact on kickoffs and kickoff returns. I understand the importance of special teams."

    3:32 p.m. Pittsburgh linebacker H.B. Blades left South Florida for the lure of playing for his father's (Bennie) and late uncle's (Al) Alma Mater. "I needed to leave home and become a man. My uncle Al passed away right before I left, and he was the only one to encourage me to leave home." Blades has a sore hamstring after working out, but he will still give it a go this week at the combine.

    3:30 p.m. Nebraska LB Stewart Bradley thinks he'll stand out to the coaches and general managers at the Scouting Combine. "There aren't alot of guys at my height and weight with my speed," he said. He also believes his versatility will be a huge asset. "I can play inside or outside," he said. "I'm big enough to stop the run inside, but have lots of experience playing out in space."

    3:28 p.m. Ohio State defensive tackle David Patterson is learning how to transition from being a fan of the game (his uncle has season tickets to the Cleveland Browns) to being out on the field in the NFL. The first thing he needs to do is figure out what position he would play at the next level. He's a little undersized (6'2 5/8") to play DT in a 4-3 defense and definitely too small to play nose tackle in the 3-4 for his Browns. He played all four defensive line positions at Ohio State and is just looking to impress scouts at the Combine (doing a full workout), improve his leverage skills and lower body strength, and catch on with a team that will give him a chance to compete.

    3:26 p.m. Daniel Bazuin dropped some weight (6'2 7/8", 266) to improve his speed and quickness in preparation for a transition to outside linebacker in the NFL. He played defensive end in college, but a number of teams (including Dallas and Cleveland) are talking to him about playing outside in the 3-4 scheme. According to him, he's got the motor, the relentlessness, and the hand speed to become the next Mike Vrabel. He hopes to run a 4.6 in the 40 yard dash and impress scouts with his versatility here at the Combine.

    3:22 p.m.Tim Crowder is the No. 11 ranked defensive end in the draft by Scout.com, and he comes from a talent rich program in Texas. He was asked why so many players seem to stay all four years at Texas. "You just enjoy college and have fun with your teammates. I can honestly say I enjoyed playing with my teammates down there, and it's like a big brotherhood. You can hang out with anybody. There's not a race issue or anything; it's just a great place to be.

    3:04 p.m.The losers in the "who comes to the podium at the same time that Calvin Johnson does" were linebackers Stewart Bradley of Nebraska and David Harris of Michigan. There are two main podiums on opposite sides of the press room, and Bradley had his side of the room almost to himself as the horde of media members flocked to the Calvin Johnson side of the room. Harris was a little less conspicuous as he got the shelter of sitting at a table.

    3:03 p.m. The third time is a charm for Marcus Thomas, defensive tackle from Florida, who is hoping that an NFL team will look past his previous transgressions and draft him in April. He was suspended earlier this season, given a second chance, and was later suspended for violating the terms of the contract he signed with Florida following the suspension. He missed the National Championship game and doesn't want to miss out on the rest of his life. The Tennessee Titans have shown interest in him and met him face to face. Thomas did not get a ring with his former classmates at Florida because of his transgressions.

    2:59 p.m.Georgia Tech LB KaMichael Hall said that he got off to a bit of an unusual start during the medical part of the Combine process. "Yesterday I spent the day most of the day at the hospital, and I kind of got my papers lost, so I stayed there a little longer than I had to," he said. But the rough start clearly didn't dim his enthusiasm. He's looking forward to his first formal interview tomorrow night and he wants to be sure that each team he meets with knows three main things about him. "I want them realize that I've got a great knowledge of the game, that I'm a leader on the field, and have a real love for this game," he said.

    2:58 p.m. Jon Beason, LB, Miami - is excited to perform at the Combine, saying, "When the lights are on, it's time to perform." His goal in the 40-yard dash is a 4.5, lending to the theory that he fits a Tampa-2 coverage scheme. "I don't want to be considered a linebacker. I want to be considered an athlete," he said.

    2:55 p.m.Victor Abiamiri, DE, Notre Dame - Victor Abiamiri knows that NFL teams are looking for edge rushers in what he calls a passing league, and he knows he can do that well. He also likes a coach who can get in his face. "I want a coach to be straight up and honest with me because that's the only way I can get better," said the player whose parents from Nigeria were originally in favor of him playing football because they thought it was America's soccer.

    2:53 p.m.Florida Linebacker Earl Everett was relatively new to the linebacker position when he arrived at Florida, but he has worked his way into being a draft pick at the outside linebacker position. "I'd have to say around my sophomore year I started feeling comfortable at the position. When I first got to Florida, I was only 204, and I started the last eight games I was only 208, so I was getting mopped around a little bit. I really started to get a good feel for it my sophomore year, reading the linemen, that's something I never had to do in high school." Everett has no such concerns of being undersized now, he weighed in at 238.

    2:40 p.m.Allen Branch, 6-5.5 324, defensive tackle from Michigan said he lost a lot of weight at Michigan, and he's ready for a new challenge. "When I was a freshman, I reported at about 375. I'm going to do all of the workouts here. The timing situation, it was a great opportunity for me to leave, and I'm just a competitor, and really the best athletes in the world of football play in the NFL, and I thought it would be a good time to leave."

    2:36 p.m. Rufus Alexander was the Will backer in Oklahoma's cover-2 scheme and the 228-pounder expects to record one of the best 40 times of all linebackers. It makes sense that Alexander has received the most interest here from the Indianapolis Colts, a team known for its utilization of quick linebackers that drop deep in pass coverage.

    2:32 p.m. Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State - Despite a solid college career and a first-round draft grade by most, Posluszny said a lot of where he ends up being drafted depends on his Combine performance. Still, he thinks he should be at least one of the first linebackers taken, if not the top overall.

    Linebacker is his love. "The appeal from a defensive standpoint, it's one of the few positions where you can be in on every play," said the linebacker who has made defensive calls from the inside and outside linebacker spots and been called the best Penn State linebacker ever by Jack Hamm.

    2:04 p.m. Are you starting to sense a pattern here? Jon Abbate of Wake Forest was asked why he would come out early this year? "Unless someone could promise me that I'd come back next year and grow three inches, I'd be in pretty much the same position that I'm in now. I could go back and be productive and put up 100 tackles, but I'd still be the same size. We accomplished a lot of the goals we were trying to accomplish at Wake Forest, and I thought it was time for a new challenge."

    1:40 p.m.In an ongoing theme about height and linebackers, Florida State's Buster Davis took the podium and good naturedly answered the same questions that everyone else had to hear. "Has height ever been a problem for you?", Davis had a big smile when he answered, "No sir, height has never been a problem for me; I've been this height for a long time."

    1:35 p.m.Stanford linebacker Michaek Okwo is another player that is having his height fixated on, and he's another player that isn't going to worry too much about something he can't control. "It's never been an issue for me. I've seen a lot of player be successful at 6-0 tall. I think it's an issue for offensive players sometimes. I think I can be kind of pesky to a 6-7 offensive tackle."

    1:17 p.m. Florida Linebacker Brandon Siler accomplished a lot in his career, and he was ready to move on. "I had started 2.5 years at Florida. We won an SEC Championship and a National Title, two things that I had aimed to do coming into the University. I accomplished two things I had aimed to do coming into the University, and I thought I could be drafted pretty high. So, I made a decision to come out."

    1:13 p.m.Arkansas Linebacker Sam Olajubutu measured in at 5-8 3/4, and he spent most of his media session having to answer questions about something he has no control over… his height. He must have been asked 10 times if it bothered him being short, and Olajubutu as always handled the questions with class. On the field, he's not quite so nice. "I know that any team that drafts me, it'll be the right fit for me, so it doesn't really bother me."

    1:10 p.m. Defensive Tackle Ryan McBean of Oklahoma State traveled a long way to get where he is. McBean was born in Jamaica before moving to the United States, and he wasn't always a football fan. "I was a soccer fan, but when I got to the states, I found out I was too big to play soccer, to run up and down the field like that."

    12:45 p.m.New Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Bobby Petrino was inevitably asked about working with Michael Vick and if he was comfortable giving him play calling duties. "Well, I'm probably going to call the plays, but the quarterback has responsibilities that he's going to have to do at the line of scrimmage. Really, get out of a bad play. That's the thing we try to do. When I call a bad play, it's his job to get us out of a bad call and get us into a good call. And I think that's one of the things he's real excited about. It's not something he's done a lot of in the past, but I think it's something he's looking forward to."

    12:26 p.m. North Carolina State Defensive Tackle Tank Tyler is a big man in the middle. He said that he feels comfortable playing the nose or at defensive tackle. "Some of the teams like me at Nose guard in a 3-4, and some like me at tackle in a 4-3." Asked about some of the disciplinary problems he's had. "I'm a good guy. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I've tried to turn it into a positive. I keep my head up and my eyes open and keep out of trouble."

    Tyler was evasive when asked if he was surprised that Chuck Amato was fired. "(Laughs) That's kind of hard to say. Coach Amato is a good coach and a good guy. He's the assistant head coach at Florida State, so.."

    12:21 p.m. St. Louis Rams Head Coach Scott Linehan was asked a question about linebacker Will Witherspoon and if his move to the middle was permanent. "I think we'll stick with him there (middle). He ended up having a very good season for us. He played banged up a lot of the year. He still ended up with 120/130 tackles in his first year of playing Mike linebacker. He can truly play sideline to sideline. He's not a tackle to tackle player. He has great closing speed, and having him in the middle really gives him in the position to be involved in every play. In our first four wins of the season, he had his hands on the ball on the last play of the game in each of the four wins. We were four and one, and Spoon's hand had something to do with each game, whether it was tipping a ball or recovering a fumble or something like that."

    12:12 p.m. Antonio Johnson, DT Mississippi State, had to get his GED before going to Mississippi State and says his biggest strength is quickness, claiming he ran down Kenny Irons for a touchdown-saving tackle. However, he doesn't seem interested in playing nose tackle in the NFL, preferring the three-technique. "I get to show off my explosiveness and rush up the field. I play harder as a three-technique," he said. Johnson said he has to work on his pad level.

    11:48 a.m. Defensive End Charles Johnson of Georgia played a little bit of everything at Hawkinsville High School, and there's a chance he could play other positions much like former Georgia defensive end David Pollack. "Some of the teams have talked to me about playing outside linebacker. The Dallas Cowboys have talked to me about working out at outside linebacker a little bit while I'm here." Johnson played Single A high school football in Georgia where he played some running back, wide receiver, linebacker, end, tackle, as well as other sports. Johnson measured 6-2 and 270 pounds, down from 285 pounds he was at in the 2005 season. "I played right at 265/270 this year. I was about 285 last year though."

    11:36 a.m. Cardinals GM Rod Graves said that the selection of Ken Whisenhunt was simply a good fit for the team's existing talent on both offense and defense. "We feel in many respects it's a plug-and-play approach. We feel like we have talented players, and with a good plan that our players believe in, and a stress and emphasis on discipline and execution, I think we'll be a much better football team. He also indicated that the team hasn't given up on re-signing free agent Leonard Davis. "We've left the door open for a return," he said. "I've indicated to his agent that we do have an interest in talking to him and seeing if we can get something re-established with him."

    11:09 a.m. Miami Defensive End Baraka Atkins was used to being in the spotlight before he got to Miami. His father is the Mayor of Sarasota, and Atkins had a little fun answering the question about his dad. "That is correct; he is the current Mayor of Sarasota… actually running again for City Commissioner… go Vote on March 13th," Atkins said to a laughing press corp. "I don't believe it was that much pressure (being the son of the Mayor). You had a sense of being in the limelight. Definitely a lot of people know me as the Mayor's son."

    With a good showing at the Combine this week, Atkins has a chance to make sure his politician father will be known as "Baraka Atkins' Dad."

    11:06 a.m. Arizona Cardinal Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt addressed his free draft needs. He first stated that his goal in the draft was to build depth, but when pressed, mentioned that offensive line was a place they needed to get stronger. "I think the biggest area of depth that we need is the offensive line, especially with Leonard (Davis) entering free agency. We got some stability out of the group towards the end of season last year, but certainly you need quality depth with a 16 game season."

    10:37 a.m. Defensive Lineman Justin Harrell of Tennessee fought through an injury his senior year to get one more game in against Florida. He knows he has a lot to live up to with defensive linemen coming from Tennessee. "It just speaks for our coaches. Dan Brooks, our defensive line coach, and John Chavis, our defensive coordinator, are two of the greatest coaches I've had since I've been playing football. They prepare you to get ready for things like this (Combine) and the NFL. After five years of being with them, they've prepared me, and I'm just trying to carry on the tradition."

    10:00 a.m. New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese was ready to put yesterday's Coughlin Comments behind him in a hurry this morning. "I don't want to talk about that. That's not even a conversation. That's old news. Tiki, Tom squabble, that's old guys. Tiki was a great player for us, and we love Tiki, but Tom is our head coach and Tiki's retired, so we're not going to talk about Tiki any more. That's yesterday's news with that Tiki/Tom squabble."

    From a football standpoint, does Tiki need to be replaced?

    "In this day and age, you always want to have two running backs. We feel Brandon Jacobs can carry the load for us, but we'll definitely look into getting him a teammate that he can share the backfield with."

    9:52 a.m. Gaines Adams is the top rated defensive player on Scout.com's NFL Draft Rankings. He was the first player to arrive at the media room. He will work out in everything at the NFL Combine this week except for the bench press. "I came here to workout, and I'm going to do everything except the bench press. I'm going to do the bench press at my Pro Day at Clemson."

    Adams played 8-man football in high school, and he joked that he liked 11-man football better. "I like 11-man better. You have to cover too much ground in 8-man," Adams said with a laugh.

    Adams hopes to be the top defensive player taken in the draft and compares himself to Julius Peppers. "At the position I'm in, it's just great athletes," said the 6-foot-4, 258-pounder who is doing both defensive end and linebacker drills at the Combine.

    Amazingly, Adams didn't receive any Division I or Division II full scholarship offers coming out of high school, due mainly to playing eight-man football in South Carolina. Even after spending time at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, only Clemson and North Carolina offered him a full scholarship, and North Carolina dropped it on signing day.

    9:30 a.m. In addition to the defensive ends and linebackers, various front office personnel are schedule to speak today including:

    Jerry Reese – New York Giants GM
    Ken Whisenhunt –Arizona Cardinals Head Coach
    Rod Graves – Arizona Cardinals VP of Football Ops
    Scott Linehan – St. Louis Rams Head Coach
    Bobby Petrino – Atlanta Falcons Head Coach
    Mike Nolan – San Francisco 49ers Head Coach
    James Harris – Jacksonville Jaguars VP of Player Personnel


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