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Old 03-21-2013, 07:33 PM   #1366
JCMElway's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 7,288


Don't know Garrett Gilkey? Height: 6-5. Weight: 314. Arm: 31 3/4. Hand: 10 3/8.
40 Time: 5.33.
Projected Round (2013): 4-6.

One moment, Garrett Gilkey was standing on his big stage. The next moment, he was being plowed under it.

There was a small crater in the turf where the 314-pound Gilkey tried to dig in his cleats and stop the charge of John Jenkins, a 359-pound defensive tackle from the University of Georgia. Gilkey is an offensive lineman from Chadron State, an outpost in northwest Nebraska, and NFL scouts were gathered around to see if the player from a small Division II school could block a player from a Goliath of college football, a school from the mighty Southeastern Conference.

Jenkins thrust his powerful claws straight into Gilkey's chest and it was an instant mismatch. Big beat little, for the moment.

It was a one-on-one drill at a practice for the Senior Bowl, a college football all-star game, which is the next step in the 2013 NFL draft process. Gilkey was shoved back by Jenkins and left standing on a white towel, which was the imaginary quarterback Gilkey was supposed to protect. This would have been a sack in a real game, the quarterback in a heap at the feet of Jenkins, and Gilkey humiliated.

Gilkey, a small-college nobody, did not pick up that white towel and start waving it as a flag of surrender.

He wasn't going to be defined by one stinking play.

The next snap in the one-on-one drill with Jenkins, Gilkey quick-setted Jenkins, which means he hit him first. If the big guy from Georgia was going to bull rush Gilkey in a drill with a helmet and no pads where coaches want to see players work with their hands, not power, Gilkey would counter with his own shifty move. He didn't take a step back to pass protect, he attacked Jenkins with a block.

"Punched him right in the face mask," said Gilkey, whose long blond hair flowed out of the back of his helmet. Then he smiled.

"I'm small school, he's big school. There might have been a few moments of awe because of the stage we're on here, being here in front of a lot of scouts, but after that first hit, it's just football. You have to show something here, some competitiveness. You don't let people intimidate you because you are from a small school."

There are two scouting services for NFL teams, Blesto and National Football Scouting, who scour the outposts, those small schools, and file reports for 28 NFL teams (four teams do not subscribe to the services). NFL teams have their own scouts who endure plenty of windshield time driving to small schools spread around the country to get a peek at a player. When word of a 314-pound lineman with quick feet spread, NFL teams flocked to Chadron, Nebraska, to see Gilkey. Savage said NFL scouts will try to stay mum on a prospect from a small school to keep teams off the scent.

"I sent a questionnaire out with Gilkey's name on it, along with some other names, and asked whether these players should be invited and all the scouts said yes, yes, yes to the others and no to Gilkey," said Savage, a former scout and general manager. "I knew something was up when they all said no. They were trying to sit on him. I got some tape, looked at him, and invited him."

There are some things that have nothing to do with skill that NFL scouts look for in a prospect, be they from big schools or little schools.

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Gilkey had a solid Senior bowl after his initial run-in with Jenkins.

Last edited by JCMElway; 03-21-2013 at 07:36 PM..
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