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February 23, 2008

Draft stock of Ellis still soaring

MORE: Rivals.com coverage from the NFL Scouting Combine

INDIANAPOLIS Quarterback prospects will participate in throwing drills Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine, but they shouldn't get too disheartened each time they misfire.

Pittsburgh Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert pointed out that quarterbacks often aren't as accurate as usual in these types of situations because they're working with new receivers instead of teammates. That situation often causes timing problems that result in plenty of incompletions.

"You've got to be real careful about the quarterbacks in these drills," Colbert said. "You look for footwork first, (a) quick release, arm strength. And with the accuracy, you understand if he misses a throw only because he might not know where his receiver is going to be."

For example, Colbert said he couldn't really remember how Ben Roethlisberger fared in his throwing drills at the Combine four years ago. The Steelers took him in the first round that season primarily because they liked the way he had performed during his college career at Miami (Ohio).

"When you watched his body of work in three years, I remember it was easy to make that decision," Colbert said.

CATCH A RISING STAR

USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis can't help but notice the increased attention that has surrounded him since the Senior Bowl. Ellis dominated most of his workouts at the Senior Bowl and solidified his status as a probable top-10 draft pick.

Frank Coyle of draftinsiders.com rates Ellis as the No. 4 overall prospect in the draft.

"I think that definitely helped me a lot," Ellis said. "Just going out there and competing, I think, told a lot of teams a lot of things about me."

Ellis' stock has increased so much that he could challenge LSU's Glenn Dorsey, who is expected to be the first defensive tackle selected. Coyle rates Dorsey as the No. 2 overall prospect. North Carolina's Kentwan Balmer (No. 23) is the only other defensive tackle considered a possible first-rounder.

"Me and (Dorsey) are going to be battling for a lot of stuff in the next few months," Ellis said. "He throws a punch, I throw a punch. It's going to come down to pretty slim pickings up there. I think there's like three of us in the top 15 or something like that.

"Teams need (defensive) tackles, and tackles aren't something that you can make from a different position. They're kind of born. Everybody doesn't have the body type. It will be interesting."

LAWS GETS PROFESSIONAL HELP

Everybody knows getting ready for the Combine requires months of physical training, but some say the mental preparation for the event is equally as important.

Notre Dame defensive lineman Trevor Laws went the extra mile to make sure he was mentally prepared for the Combine by hiring a sports psychologist. Laws said his agent gave him the idea and that he was happy with how things went.

"It was great," Laws said. "We did lots of visualizations and exercises. It really helped in the weeks leading up to the Combine. I did a lot of the drills he gave me to do. I visualized myself competing out here at the Combine, and I think that kind of mental imagery really has an impact on you."

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Boston College offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus has fielded so many questions about his unusual first name that he finally asked his father about its origin.

"At first, he was like, 'You don't like your name?' '' Cherilus said. "I said, 'No, I just want an answer for these guys.' He said he just wanted something unique that nobody else had, and that's what he came up with.

"Pretty creative, huh?"

Cherilus also said he'd be willing to play on either side of the line in the NFL, though most draft services have projected him as a right tackle. Cherilus played left tackle his senior season after lining up on the right side earlier in his career.

"At the end of the day, each team needs a right tackle and a left tackle," Cherilus said. "I can play either."

VERSATILE VERNON

Ohio State junior defensive end Vernon Gholston had three sacks in the Buckeyes' 14-3 victory over Michigan, but that performance wasn't the only reason he decided to leave school early. More went into the decision than one game, even if Gholston did become the only player all season to beat Wolverines All-America offensive tackle Jake Long for a sack. NFL teams are looking at Gholston as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme or an outside linebacker in a 3-4 system. Gholston played both in college and also was an offensive lineman at Detroit's Cass Tech.

Gholston said the battle against Long was an important one. "It was tough competition for me," Gholston said. "It was more so paying attention to his techniques and waiting for the right moment. The biggest thing is being aggressive."

Coyle ranks Gholston as the No. 9 overall prospect.

CRUMMEY SITUATION

Maryland guard Andrew Crummey didn't bother hiding his frustration. There was no need. The boot on his left leg already told the story.

Crummey had surgery five weeks ago after suffering a fracture in his left leg at the East-West Shrine Game. Crummey arrived for the Combine on crutches and won't participate in any physical drills here or at Maryland's Pro Day, though he believes he should be ready for training camp with whatever team selects him.

"I'm seeing guys I played with in the East-West Game, that I played against in college, that I feel I'm just as good as or better than in a lot of areas," Crummey said. "(In) some of this testing stuff, I feel I could do very well. I'm a football player, and I would have tested well. I would have come in here and done well testing-wise.

"It's tough because this knocks me down, and I don't have many devices at my disposal to move myself up. If I got injured before and was able to participate here, I could have erased the doubts and there could have been no question. Now I can't do that."

THE WEIGHT(ING) GAME

There's an adage that muscle weighs more than fat, and Texas defensive tackle Frank Okam hopes that's the case.

Okam measured in at 6 feet 4 and 347 pounds Saturday, 12 pounds heavier than his normal regular-season weight. Okam said he wanted to be a little lighter, but in general he's happy with where he is entering the Combine.

"Based on my body-fat percentage and how I look, the composition of my body is just fine," Okam said. "It's not been an issue and nobody has asked me about it.

"I gained a lot more muscle mass more than anything. Plus, muscle weighs more than fat."

GETTING DEFENSIVE

When Boston College's Jo-Lonn Dunbar was being recruited out of Syracuse (N.Y.) Corcoran, numerous college coaches told him he projected best at linebacker. Dunbar, a running back at the time, didn't want to hear it.

"I was a little hard-headed," Dunbar said. "I wanted to play running back. Those guys that told me I was gong to be a linebacker, I wrote them off a little bit. But I made the best decision going to be BC, and it all worked out."

Dunbar went to Boston College as a running back. But during freshman camp, he approached then-Eagles coach Tom O'Brien and asked to get a chance on defense. He stayed at linebacker.

Coyle lists Dunbar, who had with 90 tackles and an interception as a senior, as the 10th-best inside linebacker available.

(Sean Callahan of HuskersIllustrated.com, Adam Gorney of GatorBait.net and Rivals.com college football writer Steve Megargee contributed to this report).

MORE: Rivals.com coverage from the NFL Scouting Combine



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