NFL Draft Notebook: Combine Interviews

Scout.com's Ed Thompson has been talking to his NFL sources to get the scoop on which teams are showing interest in Florida DE Jermaine Cunningham, Virginia Tech DE Jason Worilds, Ohio WR Taylor Price, Indiana OT Rodger Saffold, Citadel WR Andre Roberts and Murray State DE Austen Lane.

An NFL source told Scout.com that the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were among the teams who requested 15-minute formal interviews with defensive end Jermaine Cunningham while he was at the Combine. And the Florida Gator defender could be playing defensive end or linebacker in the upcoming months. 

At 6-foot-3, 266 pounds, the three-year starter finished second on his team in sacks during his senior year, logged an impressive 64 tackles and 12 tackles for a loss. He really knows how to use his speed and his rip move off the edge to create problems for his opponent. 

At the Combine, I asked him how he would respond if a team just point-blank asked him why they should use one of their draft picks on him.

"I'd just say that I've got a high motor, on every play I'm a competitor--I want to win every play that I play," he said. 


The Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans and the San Francisco 49ers were among the teams that hosted Virginia Tech's Jason Worilds for a formal Combine interview, according to an NFL source. Based on the scheme of the team that selects him, Worilds is another player who could play defensive end or linebacker at the next level.   


AP/Michael Conroy

The 6-foot-2, 252-pound defender left school a year early to pursue his NFL dream and is striving to bump his projected stock from a high-second round selection into the first round. As a sophomore, he sacked the quarterback eight times and dropped the opposing ball carrier for a loss 18.5 times. And while he didn't match that sack production in 2009 since he faced more double-teams, he still logged an incredible 32 quarterback hurries, proving that he can consistently put pressure on the quarterback.

"According to a lot of people, when you watch me play, the first thing that jumps out at you is my initial burst up the field. I think that is definitely one of my strong points, and it helps me demand respect from the offensive tackles from a speed perspective," he said during a phone interview prior to the Combine. "Once they start respecting my speed, I can open up my repertoire of moves."

While he was in Indianapolis, Worilds continued to stand out among his peers. He finished first among defensive linemen with a 38-inch vertical jump and third in the three-cone with a 6.95-second time.  He also finished seventh in the 20-yard shuttle (4.29 seconds) and ninth in the 40-yard dash (4.72 seconds). 


You may not have seen much of defensive end Austen Lane since he played his college ball at Murray State, but this guy plays physical and fast. 

At 6-foot-6, 267 pounds, he grabbed some time in the spotlight at the Senior Bowl by getting good pressure on the quarterback and recovering a fumble that he converted into six points for his team. And there's no doubt that his effervescent and engaging personality left anything but a positive impression on teams--such as the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers--who, according to an NFL source, met with him for formal interviews. He can't keep his passion for the game from bubbling to the surface when you talk with him.

"Oh, man. When you cross these white lines, nothing else matters, everything else goes away," he said during a post-practice interview at the Senior Bowl. "I'm like a kid at a playground out here--this is my playground out here. When I'm out here, I'm smiling every day."

Lane's quickness at the snap and sound technique will help him come off the board in the early rounds of this year's NFL Draft.


When they look at the Indianapolis Colts' recent draft success at wide receiver with players such as Anthony Gonzalez, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, other NFL teams should be monitoring who Indianapolis is eyeballing as they evaluate the 2010 draft class. 


AP/Darron Cummings

One of those receivers is the Citadel's Andre Roberts

An NFL source told Scout.com that the Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans and Chicago Bears were among the teams that held a formal Combine interview with Roberts last week.

A highly-disciplined route runner who has startling quickness and acceleration at the snap, Roberts was a standout performer during Senior Bowl week, showing good hands and concentration while catching passes and fielding kickoffs and punts as a returns specialist. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound receiver told Scout.com that in addition to returns work, he anticipates being a slot receiver at the next level.

"I take a lot of pride in my route running," he said. "With me being a shorter guy and being in the slot, that's something I do take a lot of pride in."

Roberts grabbed a team-best 77 passes for 792 yards and eight touchdowns last year. He averaged 15.5 yards per punt return and 22.0 yards on the three kickoffs that he returned.


Indiana's Rodger Saffold raised his stock last week in Indianapolis with his position drills work, a second-place finish in the broad jump with a 9-foot 5-inch leap, and a third-place finish in the three-cone with a 7.42-second time. 

An NFL source told Scout.com that the Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants, New York Jets, Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles are just a few of the many teams that interviewed Saffold at the Combine.

The 6-foot-4, 316-pound offensive tackle already impressed pro talent evaluators with his toughness and durability after rolling up 41 consecutive starts--especially since he played through the 2008 season with a brace due to a back injury. 

"I don't know if anybody has ever had lower back pain, but when you have a fracture back there--I mean, I couldn't put on my own socks," he said. "It was hard putting on my own shoes. Just being able to rehab and do what I needed to do to get back on the field for my team was good enough for me."


Ohio University wide receiver Taylor Price was told by NFL teams during his formal interviews that they will be considering him in the second or third round of this year's NFL Draft. And an NFL source told Scout.com that the Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears were among the teams that met with Price in Indianapolis.

Price's straight-line speed while running his routes and his acceleration after making the catch is commanding a lot of attention from scouts. He tied for second in the 40-yard dash at the Combine with a 4.41-second time and finished in the top ten in both the bench press and the vertical jump.

The 6-foot tall, 204-pound receiver caught a team-high 56 balls for the Bobcats in 2009 for 784 yards and five touchdowns despite that fact that Ohio's passing game wasn't very precise.

"I'm able to adjust to any ball, down low, behind me," he said at the Combine. "I feel I never got a perfect ball in stride in college. I look at that as a strength."

You can follow Ed Thompson on Twitter (@Ed_Thompson). A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com.

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