Before They Were Pros: Erasmus James

Defensive end Erasmus James came into the Indianapolis Combine with a ton of questions to answer medically. He did that for NFL teams, then faced the media. See what he had to say about his health, his skills and his potential in the NFL before he ever knew the Vikings were going to draft him in the first round.

On his combine measurements: "I'm 6 4 1/2 and 266. I played about 265, 270 last season."

On how much they poke and prod at his hip: "A lot, but I'm happy -- it passed with flying colors. So I'm real excited about that."

On looking at his shoulder, too: "Oh, no, it's just from two years ago. They kind of backtrack and they ran some tests but everything came back negative."

On playing basketball in high school: "Yeah, I played basketball, and my high school football coach, Keith Franklin out of MacArthur Hollywood, he told me I should come out. I'm real athletic and I looked like a D-end, so he brought me out there, put me down in that stance and ever since it's been working for me."

On how many schools recruited him after one year of football: "Miami, Florida State, N.C. State and I took a visit to Wisconsin. That was my last visit."

On Wisconsin: "It was the farthest away, but they had a great coaching staff, they'd just come off back-to-back Rose Bowls, Ron Dayne, and the D-linemen were leaving and it was a great academic school as well."

On what he was expecting to run: "Somewhere in the 4.6's. Hopefully low 4.6's."

On an NFL model: "I wouldn't say that I model myself, but I've seen a lot of tendencies in different plays. Like Julius Peppers, (Jevon) Kearse. I'm athletic, so I think I'd work in a 3-4 defense, too."

On how much attention at the Combine was focused on his medical history: "The first thing when you get in there and they're looking down your sheet and they see that hip injury. And when you see a hip injury, that's a pretty big issue. So they looked at it and checked it out right away."

On being scared when people started linking him to Bo Jackson: "Definitely, especially when you put faith in doctors and the doctors don't know what's going on. You're definitely worried."

On how frightening the hip injury was: "Very frightening because they said it would be about three games. Three games came and it just kept getting worse. Doctors in Wisconsin didn't know anything about it, they just kept comparing it to Bo Jackson, and his career was ended. They sent me to a doctor with the New York Giants, Chris Warren, and I went out and he said I didn't need surgery, just rehab. I did that the best way I could and came back pretty strong."

On arthritic aftereffects or anything: "No, they said there's nothing there at all. Everything looked good and they're going to have me get an MRI just to get that extra step to make sure everything is OK."

On his ankle: "The ankle's good. I've had a good amount of time off. That's why I didn't play in the Senior Bowl and now I've had a month off so I'm 100 percent."

On it being hard when teams focus on his medical history instead of playing history: "Definitely, because I think I've proven myself on the field this past year. But they still want to look at the hip and look at all these different issues."

On fitting with a 3-4 defense: "I think I'd be very good in a 3-4. I think I can be good against the run. I've got great hip extension and this past year I've proven to the scouts that I can stop the run. I feel very comfortable."

On what he brings to a team: "Definitely a lot of speed. I think I need to work on my upper body strength a little bit."

On being a potential top-15 draft pick: "Oh yeah. I definitely see myself as a top-15 guy."

On the toughest player he faced in college: "I wouldn't say the best player, but the toughest was a guy from Illinois called Billy Babcock. He's a really tough guy. He was probably my toughest opponent."

On how disappointing the end of last season was after the great start Wisconsin had: "You often wonder, but it's over now, so I can't think about that. But we'll always say we started 9-0 and then fell off. But we're still happy with the season we had."

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