Saffold leads IU at combine

“Rodger crushed it.”

Those words came from Jared Fox, agent for Indiana NFL draft hopefuls Rodger Saffold and Jammie Kirlew. He was talking about the combine in Indianapolis earlier this week, and it was evident by Saffold’s numbers that he wasn’t blowing smoke to get his client a big contract.

The former IU left tackle was listed as a top performer among offensive linemen in four of the six tests of general athletic ability held at the combine. He ranked 12th among lineman with a 29 1/2 inch vertical jump and second with a 9-foot 5-inch broad jump (not that much jumping is involved with offensive line play). He also finished third among lineman in the three-cone drill with a time of 7.42 seconds and eighth in the 20-yard shuttle run with a time of 4.67.

Saffold’s draft stock had already risen with a strong performance at the East-West Shrine game, as he went from a late round prospect to a potential second or third rounder. This could help even more.

“You always see what you could do to get better at things,” Saffold said. “I was pleased with my numbers. I thought they were very strong. Now I want to continue to improve myself on the football field. I’m ready to do more work on football skills rather than preparing for these tests.”

Saffold said he was interviewed by 19 teams at the combine, and that most of the ones he hadn’t spoken to he met with at the East-West Shrine Game. The only two teams he said he hasn’t spoken to are the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I don’t know if that’s just because I’m from Cleveland or what,” he said.

Kirlew admittedly didn’t put up spectacular numbers at the combine. Combine participants typically aren’t given all of their numbers, but he did know he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds, and that he benched 225 pounds 26 times. The 4.9 falls short of personal bests in the 4.7s and he believe he can outdo that bench at pro day.

“There are definitely some things I’m not satisfied with,” Kirlew said. “I’m looking forward to cleaning those up at our pro day on Tuesday.”

Kirlew said the position drills and interviews went much better, though. At 6-foot-3, 260-pounds, Kirlew played defensive end in college but is considered sort of a tweener at the professional level. Teams that use 3-4 defensive schemes could move him to outside linebacker, and one of the most important things scouts wanted to know was whether or not he’s capable of dropping back into coverage.

Kirlew said he believed that he proved he could.

“What they did was took a handful of defensive ends, guys that were sort of tweeners who could play with their hand in ground or stand up linebackers,” he said. “We went to probably three linebacker drills they were gonna do. They definitely want to see us backpedal and flip the hips and be able to run laterally with our eyes on the quarterback. They want to see us drop back and be able to break toward the ball go up and catch it. I thought I did a great job flipping my hips and I caught every ball that was thrown to me. There are definitely some things I can continue to clean up on, but I definitely felt like I showed some athleticism.”

Greg Middleton also apparently showed some athleticism. His 38 inch vertical was tops among defensive linemen. Safety Nick Polk said he also felt like he had a solid combine, running the 40 in 4.56 seconds.

“I feel pretty confident in myself,” Polk said. “Everybody says they like you, but you never really know. I’m just trying to live each day by that certain day. It’s just small steps in a big process.”

One comment

  1. Mel kiper and todd mcshay were talking on the radio a day or two ago on espn radio and both saffold was brought up. Kiper said that he thought it was entirely possibly that saffold would go late in the first round depending on where players are taken, he improved his stock that much. They said that he will likely go though mid to late second round, but they were very impressed.

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