NFL Draft Q&A: James Blair

Western Michigan offensive lineman James Blair turned in strong performances in two all-star games to earn a Combine invitation. He's a rising draft prospect, so learn more about Blair and which teams are showing interest in him through this exclusive interview with's Ed Thompson.

Ed Thompson:  What's going through your head these days?

James Blair:  These days basically what's going through my head is me working hard and trying to make a name for myself right now.  I know I am a low-rung player and that's not a problem with me, but I'm just trying to be me and stay on the right track.  It's been hard doing the traveling and things like that, but you have to get into a rhythm and have your mind right.

Thompson:  I heard you're drawing some interest from the Packers. When you hear something like that, does it really hit home that this NFL dream is becoming a reality and you could end up in a huddle with someone like Brett Favre?

Blair:  To be honest with you, it hasn't hit me as far as being in the huddle with one of the greatest players ever.  That would be a place where I really would appreciate them just giving me a chance.  Right now all I can really do is continue to be me and work hard and go from there.  If the Green Bay Packers would draft me or pick me up as a free agent, I would gladly be at their disposal.

Thompson: You're from Detroit. Did you grow up as a Lions fan?

Blair:  Yeah, I was a Lions fan.  I started watching football when I was about 12.  I watched because I liked seeing people hit each other.  Watching the Lions, I thought, "Man, maybe I could do something like this." I went out for football when I was in 10th grade and went from there.  

Thompson:  You're a player who's on the rise, your tour that included the Hula Bowl and the Texas vs. The Nation Game has raised your stock. Talk about the fact that you played offensive tackle, but are being projected as a guard. Is that a switch you're welcoming?

Blair:  Yeah, I'm open to that because my body structure is one that is a smaller stature.  I'm not a big, rangy-type tackle. I knew if I went to play at the next level I would be a guard.  When I got to college, I played right guard for three years. Then my junior and senior year I played right tackle.

Thompson:  You have a reputation for having good footwork and at the guard position that's going to be a real asset.

Blair:  Oh yeah, it will be.  Knowing how the edge players play will help me a lot because it will allow me to move very quickly to set up on my blocks.  With my feet and having been set as a tackle for two years, I think I'll be good as a guard.

Thompson:  Talk about your experience at the Hula Bowl.

James Blair on the move.
Gary Shook/GS Photo

Blair:  Playing at the Hula Bowl was a great experience for me.  What happened down there was I started playing tackle and then started switching in and out at guard and tackle.  So a lot of the teams were wondering where I would be at the next level. I told them I thought I would be a guard.  People were telling me I had a great week there.  I kept going, kept working, and by the time game time came I ended up switching in and out at right guard and right tackle.  I played a series here and a series there just to show them I can be a swing-man, so if they only had a roster spot for one more offensive lineman, I wanted to let them know that I can do both.

Thompson:  Who were some of the teams that were talking to you at the Hula Bowl?

Blair:  The Hula Bowl week I didn't really talk to too many.  I talked to the Vikings, Packers, Bears, Dolphins, and the Eagles, and I believe that was it.

Thompson:  Who chatted with you at the Texas vs. The Nation game?

Blair:  That week there were a few more.  The Packers spoke to me again, the Chiefs, the Lions, the Texans. Those are the four I remember right off the top of my head. 

Thompson:  Talk about Texas vs. The Nation, how do you feel you performed in that game?

Blair:  I feel like I had another good showing.  I primarily focused on playing right guard, rather than moving every series to right tackle.  I think I showed I can play right guard and get in there and mix it up a little bit.  I went against a lot of good D-Tackles in that game.  I thought I showed better quickness coming off the ball and moved better.  I still have to work on it, but I think I showed pretty good quickness coming off the ball.  I did pretty well in both games, so all in all I think I had a successful postseason so far.

Thompson:  What was it like when you got that late Combine invite?

Blair:  When I got my Combine invite I realized that all that hard work has paid off and I need to be consistent and keep working hard. 

Thompson:  You played around 330-335 pounds. What do you weigh now?

Blair:  I am 329 and I'm just trying to keep it going down.

Thompson:  What is it you want to make sure coaches and GMs know about you?

Blair:  Just to let them know that I am aware of things I need to work on and I'm working on them.  Just let them know that it'll be an honor to play for them. Being a kid out of Detroit, it would be a dream — not only for me because I love football and I love the game, but also for my family.  Just let them know that I am a hard worker and I think I'll be fine.

Thompson:  Talk about how your upbringing has shaped your character.

Blair:  Coming up it was rough.  When I turned 13 I had my first job. I was helping the family.  Growing up and going through high school we had a tragedy when my biological mother passed away on Easter Sunday.  It's eight kids in the house, so it was a rough time.  My father took some of the kids, so it was pretty rough coming out of high school.  The thing I will always remember is my high school offensive line coach always told me, "Just be James Blair, that's all you have to do, just be James Blair.  Be respectful and make sure you listen and do everything as if it's a big thing."

Thompson:   You said there are eight children in your family?

Blair:  Now we're at six girls and five boys, including me its six and six.  It's a big family, I have a half brother and a half sister in there, but I don't ever call them that — they're my family.

Thompson:  Anything else you'd like to add as we wrap up this interview?

Blair:  That's about it. I'm just a kid out here trying to make it.

Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at You can contact him by email through this link.

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