2011 NFL Combine: Pass rushers in the spolight today

St. Louis Rams GM Billy Devaney noted yesterday that just how deep the 2011 NFL Draft was with pass rushers. The NFL must have been listening because they rolled out a gaggle of potential first round picks within an hour or so today. A couple notes from the interviews...

Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa

Asked by TST about how he responds to character concerns, Clayborn noted that it hasn't been a major concern at all. Few coaches have even asked him about the taxi incident. Of course, smacking someone for hurling a racial epithet at you is probably more of an indication of good character.

Clayborn was confident that he could play anywhere, defensive end, three technique and even outside linebacker...if he dropped a ton of weight. He was joking about that last one. Throughout the process he stressed that Iowa runs a pro style defense, something seconded by the number of Iowa players making a quick impact in the NFL, like Bradley Fletcher.

Kerrigan, Aldon Smith, Marvin Austin and more after the jump...

Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue DE

Jaws hit the floor when Kerrigan took the stage. The young man looks the part, long, linear and muscular. After his presser I asked former Rams personnel man and current ESPN 101 personality Tony Softli what he thought of Kerrigan on the line with Chris Long. He thought it would be great, and noted that they were complementary players with very different body types and physical attributes.

Kerrigan also noted his ability to force fumbles, a skill he said transferred directly from practice to games and a point of emphasis in the Purdue program.  Asked about the OTs he's faced, he cited Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi but noted that he usually lined up over tight ends. 

Jurrell Casey, USC DT

Casey has lost some believers among draftniks lately, so his trip to Indy carries added emphasis. Casey said he was best at three technique. In practice, he and OT Tyron Smith would often choose to pair up against each other, though he mostly faced guards on Saturdays. 

I asked him about the best offensive line he's faced and without hesitation he offered up Standford. "It's a pro style program," he said. 

"Pro style" has become the event's most prominent cliche, a chief talking point I suspect being issued by agents this week. Anyway, Casey noted that playing in the Pac 10 he consistently faced some of the toughest competition in college football, something the SEC players here this week would quibble with. 

Marvin Austin, North Carolina DT

Austin seemed to be carrying genuine regret for missing the prior season at UNC. He says that he learned a lesson to take every snap like it was his last. More than anything he realized that it was a huge blow to his draft stock. He still considered himself the best DT in the draft. 

Cameron Jordan, California DE

Jordan cited Tyson Alualu as his mentor coming into college.

"[Alualu] was the guy I wanted to emulate the most when I got to Cal. He taught me how to work hard. He doesn't complain much. He doesn't say too many words. And when he speaks, everybody listens. It was the respect I wanted so bad. I strived every day for that respect."

Like most players here, Jordan was pretty confident in ability to play DE in a 4-3 or 3-4; it's not just hyperbole with Jordan though. 

Jordan measured 6'4" 287 lbs with 11-inch hands. 

Aldon Smith, Missouri DE

Smith weighed in at 264 lbs and said that he'll add some weight to his frame.

As for his pass rushing ability he noted that his burst was something special, something that set him apart from other pass rushers in the draft this year. The realization that Smith had a natural pass rushing ability burst into his consciousness itself, sending his high school coach into a frenzy of delight. 

We'll have more on these players later. 

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