Terrell McClain, along with the rest of the 2011 defensive line draft class, will arrive in Indianapolis today, Feb. 24, for the four-day event known as the NFL Combine. McClain will undergo medical examinations Friday, receive his physical measurements Saturday, and submit to psychological exams Sunday.
The long and exhausting weekend gives way to a Monday morning and afternoon chock-full of workout activities, including Combine tests and position-specific drills. It will be the culmination of nearly two months of Combine prep work McClain dedicated himself to upon the conclusion of his collegiate career at the University of South Florida. USF’s lone representative at the Combine, McClain is ready to break free from the practice runs.
The Combine prep work, McClain says, emphasizes technique over top speed. “They’ve been telling us not to worry about our times,” he says. “We’ll do one rep, and then review what I did wrong and what I need to improve upon. I’ve definitely gotten better in many of the tests, and I’m ready to prove it.”
Defense dominates the 2011 draft class, with two linemen expected to contend for the top spot. Much commotion has been heard about which top-flight prospects will participate in what events at the Combine. For players of this caliber, a poor showing in just one event can jeopardize their draft standing, which is why many top guys will forgo certain tests. However, a guy like McClain could blow up the Combine with a solid all-around showing in both the tests and position-specific drills. A projected early-to-mid-round talent, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
So where does the big man plan to make up some ground against his higher-ranked counterparts? The 40-Yard Dash, of course. It may sound silly, a 300-plus-pound man counting on the ultimate measure of speed to increase his draft value. However, several top D-linemen will not be running this year because of injuries. And McClain has a powerful first step off the line of scrimmage, which he hopes will transfer to the 40.
Plus, in his final week of pre-Combine training, McClain worked overtime on the fundamentals of the 40. He says, “[I’m] definitely working to improve my explosion, my initial burst off the starting line. And I’m a fast learner. I’m gonna have a full head of steam, do the best I can, and have fun with it.”
Finally, McClain hopes to use team interviews to highlight his abilities on the field and draw attention to his sterling character off the field. “I want them to know they’re drafting a good man off the field. That’s what I want them to know about me,” he says.
If he busts a breakthrough performance at the Combine, NFL coaches, scouts and fans will soon know a whole lot more about Terrell McClain.
Photo: J. Meric/University of South Florida