There has been much talk in recent weeks about the abundance of NFL scouts present at Penn State practices. On Wednesday alone, scouts from the Browns, Steelers, Ravens, Buccaneers, Jets and Broncos were on hand to witness the boys in blue go through drills on a bye week. That is a drastic change from the past. Bill O’Brien is using the NFL as a tool when it comes to recruiting and allowing scouts into practice is a significant part of that.
The current players could also have greater shots at the NFL than they did just a short year ago.
In typical situations, college seniors will finish the regular season, practice the entire month of December to prepare for the bowl game, then immediately head off to train for the NFL Combine. Skill-specific drills can help players stand out in Indianapolis. These drills can sometimes be the difference between being drafted in the second round rather than the fourth round or even moving onto draft boards for players that were not originally set to be drafted.
Penn State players like Stephon Morris, Matt Stankiewitch and Sean Stanley could benefit greatly from their performances at the combine. The way things stand, they’ll get a month of extra time to prepare for it. Classes at Penn State don’t end until mid-December. Depending on the individual players’ situations, they may be on campus until those final exams have been completed. Others will leave, following the home game against Wisconsin on November 24th. All of the players with NFL aspirations will begin training immediately, regardless of their location.
While players from all over the country are game-planning for games in late December, Penn State players will have the chance to start adding bench press reps, shaving time off of 40 yard dashes and improving techniques on agility drills. For a guy like Mike Mauti, the difference between a 4.75 second 40 yard dash and 4.61 could literally be millions of dollars. For a guy like Stephon Morris, improving his 40 yard dash, vertical jump and shuttle scores could get him a chance on an NFL roster that he may not otherwise get.
If you asked these guys what they’d rather be doing, each of them would most likely admit they’d prefer to be playing football. However, if that’s not an option, getting a jump on the competition at the next level isn’t the worst thing in the world.
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