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pakowitz 03-13-2004 10:47 AM

Size won't stand in Vilma's way
INDIANAPOLIS -- Smart enough to know that size really does matter, especially in the career into which he will shortly (no pun intended) step, Jonathan Vilma made sure that he stood ramrod tall during a Sunday media session here.

No bending over the podium for the University of Miami middle linebacker. Certainly no slouching into the microphone. Appear too short at the NFL combine, even for a media crowd that has no vote in any teams' draft room during the first round or any other stanza for that matter, and perception might suddenly become reality.

The reality for Vilma, a human tackling machine during his three seasons as a starter for the Hurricanes, is that he is almost certainly too productive a defender for teams to make his lack of prototype size a factor in evaluating his talents. Then again, at 6-feet-0½ and 230 pounds, Vilma is still the round peg looking for an NFL round hole to plug.

"Different teams are saying different things about where they feel I would fit best," said Vilma, one of about a half-dozen former Hurricanes standouts projected as a first-round choice on April 24. "Some coaches seem to think I'll be fine in the middle. And others kind of hinted I might be better moving (to outside linebacker). I guess it just depends on who takes me where they need me to play."

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