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NFL travels to C'ville to see The Brick

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; The Cage could have been renamed "Scouts R Us" on Tuesday when Virginia's football program hosted it's Pro Timing Day, the Cavaliers' Cliff Notes version of the NFL Combine. With about a dozen players from its 2005 squad and a ...

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Old 03-22-2006, 02:50 PM   #1
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NFL travels to C'ville to see The Brick

The Cage could have been renamed "Scouts R Us" on Tuesday when Virginia's football program hosted it's Pro Timing Day, the Cavaliers' Cliff Notes version of the NFL Combine.
With about a dozen players from its 2005 squad and a few more from the '04 team working out, the main attraction was The Brick. He showed up at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds and wowed scouts from practically every NFL team.

We're talking about D'Brickashaw Ferguson, a sure-fire, Top 10 pick in next month's NFL Draft. The former Virginia All-American is considered a rare commodity as a potential superstar at left offensive tackle in the pros. He's the guy that some team will entrust to literally have their quarterback's back for the next seven to 12 years.

"I don't have a good meter on where I might go, even how high," Ferguson said. "With the recent trades and free agency, you just don't know."

The next Boselli?

There's some speculation the Wahoo could go as high as the No. 2 player in the draft now that the New Orleans Saints have signed free agent Drew Brees and are no longer in the market for a quarterback. There's plenty of logic behind such a choice and the Saints' director of college scouting, Rick Reiprish, was on hand to get a close-up look at Ferguson.

A little research revealed that Reiprish drafted tackle Tony Boselli out of Southern Cal in 1995, making Boselli the Jacksonville Jaguars' first-ever draft pick. So, drafting Ferguson wouldn't be a stretch for Reiprish, it would be a sound investment.

"I think that Coach [Al] Groh is right ? left tackles come along every so often and have the physical size for the position you're looking for," Reiprish said. "Not that he has to be 330 pounds. You can play in our league at left tackle at 300, 295 or 290 because you're not going to face 330- or 340-pound players that guards face, and you're not going to face the bigger defensive ends."

A sleeker player

The Saints scout believes that Ferguson's athletic ability and his upper body strength will allow him to play at less than 300 pounds because he is so athletic and moves his feet so well.

"And, he's one of those guys who can pass block," Reiprish said. "You feel very confident in saying that he's a good pass blocker."

That's a pretty big deal on any level, but an absolute must in the NFL, where the left tackle protects the star quarterback's blind side from the pass rush.

Even the teams that don't have a realistic shot at Ferguson had to come and get a glimpse of what they are missing, including the Carolina Panthers, who pick 27th.

"We had to come see him," said Tony Softli, director of scouting for the Charlotte-based Panthers. "What I do is

judge his DNA and his DNA is what he does on film. Coming out here and watching him move and work out, well,you've just got to see it. He's going to go in the top 10 picks. It's just fun to come out and watch a very good football player."

Ferguson skipped last month's NFL Combine in Indianapolis because it came too soon after the Senior Bowl, the month before. There, Groh said, "Brick was about the highest rated player in years to show up and play. What he showed in Mobile was that when there's competition, he shows up."

Ferguson decided that he wanted to make sure that he gave himself the best opportunity to show his best to scouts and figured the Combine wouldn't allow him to do so. Having graduated early (in only three and-a-half years), he has been free to work out in Orlando recently and has added 10 pounds of muscle.

That showed Tuesday when he performed 26 reps of a 225-pound bench press, ran back-to-back 5.09 times in the 40-yard dash, and tossed in a 30-inch vertical jump. There also was some kind of a shuttle thing that he either did amazingly well in or flubbed, but as one scout looked to another and chuckled, "Hey, it doesn't really matter."

They already knew the guy was primo.

Most of the scouts have been aware of The Brick for a long time, although Tuesday was the first time to see him work out since the Senior Bowl. Tuesday only reaffirmed what they already knew.

"He had really good practices down at the Senior Bowl," Reiprish said. "But if you saw him during the year and watched him in games, it wasn't anything that you didn't expect to see. A lot of coaches, general managers and office people were impressed with him [in Mobile] because it was the first time they saw him. To me, it was another practice. He practiced exceptionally well and what he did was pass protect."

But there's more to Ferguson than just his football ability. The Saints love his character.

"He epitomizes what you're looking for in a college football player," Reiprish said. "When you bring in kids like him, your program is automatically going to be at a higher level. Looking at him at the next level, it's the same way. We have a lot of players in our league that bring a lot to the community and do other things outside of football and this guy fits right into that kind of character mold."

Ferguson said he felt blessed for all the accolades that have come his way and is excited about bringing his family to the NFL Draft event. He's planning on bringing all the family and friends the league will allow.

While he doesn't know exactly where he'll go in the draft, he does know one thing for sure. He has already picked out his suit.

"I'll be looking sharp," Ferguson grinned. "Be sure to tune in because I have something special for all of ya'll."

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