Saffold’s combine includes meeting with Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS — Rodger Saffold has already been through a lot of interviews in the two days he’s been at Indianapolis for the NFL Combine. Most have them have been with people he has never seen before, but people who get to determine at least part of his future.

It was comforting for the former Indiana offensive tackle, therefore, that he saw at least one familiar face in one of those interviews. Among the coaches he met during his interview with the Buffalo Bills was assistant offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, who just joined the Bills after coaching Saffold at Indiana.

“It’s always good seeing your coach down there,” Saffold said. “When you get in the interview and he’s staring at you, you kind of look at everybody else. It was very, very good. Talking to him really made me feel more comfortable out here, especially when I’m the only Indiana offensive lineman out here.”

Saffold, though, said he’s felt mostly comfortable so far in part because of the training he got at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., over the past few weeks. When he met with the media on Thursday afternoon, he hadn’t been through any physical drills, but had spent most of the time doing interviews with teams and going through measurements and medical evaluations.

“After going down to IMG, I was ready for the combine three weeks before I came down here,” he said. “… All the things that we’re doing now is definitely expected because I know they have to take every precaution available to them in order to make the right decision. Right now we’re dealing with more of the medical things, but when it comes down to the running and the benching, I know I’m going to be prepared, and I’m also going to be prepared with my interviews and how I need to talk to people.”

Saffold’s stock rose considerably at the East-West Shrine Game in January, with his name now being tossed around as a possible second or third round pick.

“The guy’s a big guy, he moves well and he’s been a productive player,” said Gil Brandt, the longtime vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys who now works at NFL.com as its “personnel guru.” “I think he has a chance to play as an offensive lineman for a longtime and I think he can play left tackle.”

With a good combine, Saffold can push himself up even further.

“Basically I just want to show everybody that I’m here to take advantage of my opportunity,” Saffold said. “I’m not going to be somebody that just sits in the background and just watches people run the 40 and say, ‘Hey, I’m just gonna run my 40. Everything will be fine for the draft.’ I’m going to go out here and I’m gonna take it. I can’t sit back here and watch anybody. I’ve gotta make sure I focus on myself and just go out there and show everybody what a great Indiana football player is.”

Saffold is one of four Indiana players who will be at the combine. Defensive ends Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton arrive Friday and will be available to the media on Saturday. Safety Nick Polk arrives with the defensive backs on Saturday and will be available on Sunday.

“I think they’re all pretty good players,” Brandt said. “… I’m pleased to see that they’ve got four players here. I think it speaks a lot for their program.”

Brandt said he expects all four to have a chance to be on a roster. He said Kirlew will have the most interesting combine, because he has to show exactly where he fits in the NFL, whether he will be a defensive end, or more likely, a rush linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

“I want to see if he can drop into space,” Brandt said. “That’s what I want to see. That tells me if he could be a 3-4 player.”

AUDIO: Rodger Saffold talks about his combine so far

AUDIO: Gil Brandt discusses IU’s draft hopefuls