Scout.com Live Combine Blog: Saturday

Scout.com is on site at the NFL Scouting Combine as draft prospects and NFL coaches stop by the media room for press conferences and interviews. Check back frequently to keep up on who's currently in the media room in Indianapolis and what they're saying.

INDIANAPOLIS-- On Saturday, the focus shifts to defense at the NFL Scouting Combine. While players from the offensive side of the ball begin their drills and workouts, defensive linemen and linebackers will begin their cycle of completing their medical exams and meeting with the media on Saturday.

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Scout.com has finished blogging for today. Check back on Sunday morning for our final day of blogging from the media room in Indianapolis.

5:45 p.m. – Maryland defensive lineman Dre Moore mentioned his versatility, good feet and athleticism as his top traits for his position. He measured in at 6'4 and 305 pounds. When asked what he enjoyed the most about playing football, he said, "I love what I do. I love being in the trenches."

5:30 p.m. – Clemson DE Phillip Merling said that he came out early for the draft partly due to the fact that he has a one-year old daughter in addition to feeling that he's ready to play in the NFL. Merling said he'd feel most comfortable in a 4-3 defense, but said he'd be fine if an NFL team wanted to move him to DT since some of Clemson's defensive sets moved him inside at times.

When asked what would make his first year in the NFL a success in his mind, Merling listed simply helping his team win and playing hard every week as two key measurements.

4:53 p.m. – Arkansas fullback Peyton Hillis, who had just completed 26 reps in the bench press before coming into the media room, doesn't think he'll have any trouble finding a way to contribute to whatever NFL team selects him. "I think I can contribute wherever they want me to play," he said.

While he acknowledged that he doesn't have the kind of stats that will get him noticed, Hillis believes that any coach who has watched him on film will know what he can do on the field for their team. "I think whoever gets me is going to get a steal," he said.

4:39 p.m. – USC DT Sedrick Ellis made his presence felt late in the day and was confident and outgoing. Ellis feels that he can play in a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense and that his height is a positive rather than negative. He measured in at 6-feet, 309 pounds. Ellis said that he will participate in all workouts this weekend and has 12 interviews lined up with NFL teams tomorrow.

4:32 p.m. - USC quarterback John David Booty talked about what it was like to follow Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer at USC.

"To me, it's a blessing. What better motivation than to try to work hard and compete every day at such a high level to be like those guys? That's something I've lived with my whole life. I followed two national players of the year in high school at quarterback (Josh Booty and Brock Berlin), and I followed two Heisman Trophy winners in college. I just continue to follow greatness. To me, that motivates me to be the best that I can be because I want to be one of the great ones, too."

4:05 p.m. - Tampa Bay may pursue a free agent receiver from the NFC West according to a report posted at our Tampa Bay site on the Scout.com network. Click here to learn more.

3:55 p.m. - Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey weighed in at 271 pounds at the Combine. He told reporters that he believes he can have an impact on the NFL in his first year. Based on what he's hearing, he believes he'll be a 4-3 defensive end, which is what he prefers, "so I can rush the passer," he said.

Harvey referenced his great coaches and players that he had the chance work with at Florida as one reason that he believes he's ready for the leap to the pro level. He said that playing for Florida is practically like playing in the NFL.

Harvey said that if asked to do so, he can drop back into pass coverage from the DE position as he did occasionally at Florida.

3:36 p.m. - Earlier today, the offensive linemen and tight ends tested their strength in the bench press. Michigan’s Jake Long was the high man with 37 reps, followed by Rutgers Jeremy Zuttah (35) and Ohio State’s Kirk Barton (34). The tight ends faired well with Cal’s Craig Stevens leading the way with 27 reps, followed by Purdue’s Dustin Keller (26) and three (Brad Cottom, Fred Davis and Derek Fine) tied with 24.

3:32 p.m. - Hawaii WR Davone Bess sat down with media this afternoon and said that he will workout this weekend and is looking forward to running the 40. Bess measured in at 5-11 ½ and 193 pounds.

3:27 p.m. – Is Pro Bowl offensive lineman Alan Faneca done in Pittsburgh? Based on Kevin Colbert's press conference in Indianapolis, our Steelers site on the Scout.com network thinks so. Check out their report here.

3:10 p.m. – Miami defensive end Calais Campbell said that his 6-foot-7 ½ inch height and 290-pound weight has impressed coaches at the Combine, but his long arms (35 ½ inches) will also help at his position. "When you're tall and have long arms, a lot of coaches like that," he said.

Campbell is expected to be a mid first-round pick and said it's the work ethic at the University of Miami that has that program sending so many players to the NFL as top-round draft picks. He also credited the alumni that come back to the school after playing in the NFL and offer advice for the next round of prospects. He has talked with Russell Maryland, D.J. Williams, Jerome McDougle and Jon Beason for advice, saying he's very close with Beason. He has also talked with the Vikings' Bryant McKinnie for pointers on beating offensive linemen.

2:52 p.m. – Giants GM Jerry Reese said that he's still catching up with the postseason schedule since his team won the Super Bowl. And while he's gotten lots of congratulations from other executives and coaches since arriving in Indianapolis, he's mentally in the 2008 season already.

Reese said that as GM, it's been difficult for him to turn the draft board over to other people because he was raised as a scout and still likes to scout. In contrast to other GMs, who have expressed a concern about the spread offense and how it affects the ability to scout offensive players, Reese is far more interested in a player's skill set than the scheme, and that's particularly helpful when evaluating smaller-school players.

The Giants GM also addressed the team's late-season improvement, saying it was just confidence and the team coming together at the right time, there really wasn't any one factor.

2:33 p.m. – Penn State linebacker Dan Connor measured in this afternoon at 6-2 ¾ and 234 pounds. He felt confident that he can play all three linebacker positions and didn’t favor one over the other. Connor will fully participate in all workouts at the Combine.

2:20 p.m. - Purdue TE Dustin Keller timed at an impressive 4.57 in the 40.

2:18 p.m. – One of the top leaders from the defensive side of the ball in the draft, USC’s Keith Rivers said that he feels he can play all three linebacker positions at the next level. Rivers measured in today at 6-foot-2, 241 pounds and announced that he will bench press at the Combine, but he won’t run due to a sprained ankle and will do the rest of his drills at his Pro Day.

2:14 p.m. – Notre Dame DT Trevor Laws has been working with a sports psychologist to prepare him for the pre-draft process and the NFL. Laws said that one of the techniques they use that has been helpful to him has been visualization, where mentally sees himself going through the situations in advance. He feels it was very helpful to him in being ready for what he's going through at the Combine.

When asked if he could be a run-stuffer at the pro level, Laws said, "I think I'm stout at the point of attack." And when another reporter asked how he amassed so many tackles, Laws told him it was a result of "a lot of effort and a lot of work."

1:55 p.m. – Georgia Tech linebacker Phillip Wheeler said that in addition to his talent rushing the quarterback, he believes that his ability to play any of the three linebacker positions will help him in this draft. Despite the speed he has shown on film tracking down quarterbacks for sacks, Wheeler said that he thinks his most important event for him will be the 40-yard dash. And since Georgia Tech uses a lot of NFL terminology in their defense, he believes he'll pick up the playbook quickly at the next level.

When asked about what it he learned while being coached by former NFL-great Mike Singletary at the Senior Bowl, Wheeler smiled and said, "How to get yelled at, I guess." He then went on to explain that he thought Singletary wanted to see if he could push his buttons a bit and how he handled being challenged. "I was honored to be coached by him," he said.

Wheeler met with the San Francisco 49ers for his first interview, and already has 11 other teams requesting formal interviews with him.

1:25 p.m. – Virginia DE Chris Long drew a large contingent this afternoon when he addressed the media. Long measured in at 6-foot-3, 272 pounds and described himself as being relentless. Long believes he can fit in with any team in the NFL, and if he were selected as the first pick in the draft that it would be an honor that comes with a lot of responsibility. Long will participate in all workouts at the Scouting Combine except the bench press, due to a sprained thumb he suffered during Virginia’s bowl game. 

1:15 p.m. - Linebacker Curtis Lofton said that since he accomplished most of his personal goals at the University of Oklahoma, the decision to come out early for the NFL Draft wasn't that difficult for him. Those goals included earning All-Big-12 and All-American honors and leading his team in tackles. The only goal he didn't hit was winning the Butkus Award.

Lofton doesn't feel he'll have problems picking up the NFL playbook. "At Oklahoma, we have a very complex defense," he said. He lists Ray Lewis, Shawne Merriman and DeMeco Ryans as the three NFL linebackers he admires the most.

12:31 p.m. - Virginia Tech LB Xavier Adibi stood at the podium this afternoon and said that he feels that he’s best suited to play weakside linebacker at the next level. When asked if he felt his special teams background would benefit him in the NFL, Adibi agreed.

“I believe it’s an advantage,” Adibi said. “Coach [Frank] Beamer really sticks it to us [to play special teams] especially when we’re young. It really helps us out a lot when we get to the next level.”

Adibi believes that he can play all three linebacker positions in the NFL.

12:08 p.m. – Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston spoke to the media this afternoon after measuring in at 6-foot-3, 266-pounds. He was asked why he decided to leave Ohio State and said that even though he left early, he was at Ohio State for four years (redshirted his first year) and felt that it was his time. Gholston said he was going to participate in a full workout and when asked about his expectations for his bench press he responded, “I expect to get at least 35 (reps).”

11:43 a.m. –Maryland offensive guard Andrew Crummey broke his left fibula back in October, but recovered from the injury and played in the East-West Shrine Game. So he surprised everyone in the media room when he came in with a walking boot on the left foot.

Crummy revealed that he had fractured the leg again while playing in the all-star game. And this time, the fracture -- roughly an inch above the ankle -- required surgery that included a plate and screws to repair the damage. After he arrived in Indy, he looked around at the other offensive lineman and realized that he's the only one at the Combine on crutches. "It's real tough," Crummey said. "You're kind of a fish out of water."

The lineman said that he'll be returning for a medical re-check on April 4th. But he projected that he won't be able to take a blow to the leg in live drills until June.

11:33 a.m. – Projected first round pick, Pittsburgh OT Jeff Otah hasn’t spoke with the media due to his flight being delayed because of inclement weather, ran a 5.57 in the 40 this morning.

11:07 a.m. – UNC DT Kentwan Balmer weighed in this morning at 6-4 ½, 308-pounds. When asked if he was going to participate in a full workout this weekend, Balmer responded, “I’m here, so I’m going to workout.”

10:55 a.m. – Michigan OLB Shawn Crable said that he’s been listed as a DE and an OLB by teams, and he’s fine with playing either position at the next level. When asked what round he expected to be drafted in, Crable said he didn’t know and that he’s just looking forward to working out.

10:44 a.m. - Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith took the podium this morning and addressed a few topics. With the Falcons winning the coin toss over the Raiders and Chiefs and now officially granted the third overall pick, Smith didn’t offer much in respect to how the Falcons will use the pick.

“Having the number-three pick opens up a lot of avenues for us and we will discuss how we want to use that pick,” Smith said.

Smith is a former defensive coordinator and with having a high draft pick he was asked about Virginia DE Chris Long and LSU DT Glenn Dorsey.

“Obviously both players are exceptional players,” Smith said. “They’ve been productive in college, but I haven’t had the opportunity to really watch them.”

Smith was also asked about DeAngelo Hall’s situation and stated, “I’m disappointed in DeAngelo’s comments, but I won’t speculate on the issue.”

Tim Yotter, John Crist and Doug Farrar contributed to this report.

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