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Saturday Combine player notes, quotes

Posted by Nick Scurfield on February 26, 2012 – 9:48 am

*This article is part of our 2012 Path to the Draft coverage presented by Warehouse Pool Supply

INDIANAPOLIS – Player notes and quotes from Saturday in the media workroom at Lucas Oil Stadium, site of the NFL Scouting Combine (players’ heights and weights in parentheses):

Rueben Randle, WR, LSU (6-2.7, 210)
Said Randle, who has the same agent (Kennard McGuire) as Andre Johnson: “I like to get downfield and make those big plays.” He also takes pride in his blocking. “It’s key,” he said. “My dad taught me since I was young, if you’re going to be a receiver, you’ve got to be able to block, too. It’s not all about catching… Blocking is just as important as making a catch downfield.”

Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis (6-4, 346)
Poe bench-presses 500 pounds, squats 700 and power-cleans 400. He said he expects to do 40 bench press reps of 225 pounds at the Combine. “I love the weight room,” he said. “I never let up on it.” Poe sees himself as someone who can rush the passer more than people think. “I think I’m explosive, very explosive,” he said. “That’s probably my biggest strength. I try to use my quickness to my advantage.”

Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State (6-4, 298)
Cox ran the 4×100 meters in high school in addition to playing power forward. “I can’t remember; it was pretty fast,” he said of his best time in the 100. “I was 240 pounds. It was pretty fast for 240 pounds… We were pretty decent. We made it to the North State. I was the second leg and sometimes I ran the anchor. A lot of people were just looking at me. Once I got the baton, they were surprised.”

Derek Wolfe, DE, Cincinnati (6-5, 286)
Wolfe described himself as “relentless” and said he models his game after Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. “I’m actually competing with his numbers here at the Combine,” he said. “I think my height and weight were the exact same as his, and we’re going to see if we can get that 40 a little lower and the shuttle and stuff.” Wolfe also said Texans linebacker Connor Barwin, his former teammate at Cincinnati, has given him advice about the draft process and Combine, and he wondered aloud why Barwin didn’t make the Pro Bowl last season.

Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois (6-3, 260)
Mercilus, who has drawn comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul, had a nation-leading 16 sacks in 2011. “I have a good first step,” he said. “I’m able to come off the line pretty quickly. Definitely I’m able to wear out players, too. I have a never-ending motor, and I’m able to keep going until the fourth quarter until somebody is dog tired and just take advantage of them.” Mercilus refuted the notion that he’s a one-year wonder and said “there’s no fluke to it” about his 16 sacks.

Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia (6-3, 245)
Irvin was the first player at the podium on Saturday morning, and he has a fascinating story. He dropped out of high school in 11th grade in Atlanta, Ga., and spent about three weeks in jail for various charges. He reformed, got his GED and went to junior college in California. He played safety in junior college and defensive end in a 3-3-5 at WVU. As a part-time player, he had 14 sacks in 2010 and had 8.5 in 2011. “I’m a fast guy; I like mismatches,” Irvin said. “I think that gives me the chance, especially if I have big guys in the middle to occupy the guard. It allows me to go one-on-one with the tackle. I usually won those in college most of the time.”

Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina (6-1, 264)
One of the most pleasant interviews of the Combine, Ingram said he has been working with reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller on linebacker and defensive end technique as he prepares for the draft (he and Miller have the same agent, Joby Branion). Ingram played defensive end at South Carolina but said OLB is “like second nature to me.” He played linebacker as a freshman and was a running back, quarterback, receiver and point guard in high school.

Sean Spence, OLB, Miami (Fla.) (5-11, 231)
Spence said he patterns his game after Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, a former Hurricane who he called a mentor. He said he’s “very close” with Texans linebacker Darryl Sharpton and cornerback Brandon Harris, two of his former teammates at ‘The U.’ “All of us ran track together when we were about 6-7 years old, grew up together and we’re pretty tight,” Spence said. On being under six feet, Spence said, “I can’t do nothing about my height… If you just look at what I did on the field and not my height, you’re
going to be very happy.”

Keenan Robinson, OLB, Texas (6-3, 242)
Robinson, who’s from Dallas, said he has met with the Texans at the Combine – and that he knew plenty about them beforehand. “I watched them a lot,” he said. “Them being so close to home, I watched them on TV a lot. Guys like (Brian) Cushing, guys like DeMeco Ryans, those are great players, great linebackers… That would be exciting to play so close to home.”

Devon Still, DT/DE, Penn State (6-4, 303)
Still, a first-round prospect who projects as a defensive end in a 3-4, tore his ACL as a freshman and missed most of the next season with a fibula injury. He said he feels like he still hasn’t reached his full potential. “I think hands-down, I’m the best defensive tackle in this draft, just because I feel like I want it more,” he said. “I was able to take over a lot of games this season… I was able to disrupt plays even if I wasn’t making tackles or sacks.“

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