By now, you are well aware of the Green Bay Packers' perceived need at the center position. With Jeff Saturday playing poorly and eventually retiring, Evan Dietrich-Smith took over the starting job late in the 2012 season. However, he's a restricted free agent, and though he'll in all likelihood be back next year, he probably could use some competition. Thus we have the rumblings about the Packers drafting either Wisconsin's Travis Frederick or Alabama's Barrett Jones in April's NFL Draft. Both of those players were interviewed at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday and had some interesting things to say.
Frederick is a Wisconsin native, as are most Badger linemen these days. Adding to his appeal to NFL teams, he's familiar with multiple positions along the offensive line, since he has started games at both left guard and center in Madison. He believes that this versatility will be helpful for an NFL team interested in his services, as he is quoted by Tyler Dunne of JSOnline:
In today’s age, with smaller rosters, it’s really valuable for teams to be able to have somebody who can play both, especially in a back-up position or if they can slide somebody over mid-game, they don’t have to back up all three inside positions.
Frederick also discussed how he was responsible for a great deal of the coverage calls on the line at Wisconsin, adding to his value. There should be no question about Frederick's overall intelligence, as he majored in Computer Engineering at UW, and I will be curious to find out if his Wonderlic score leaks out.
Finally, Frederick was asked about whether he would prefer to play in Green Bay, but he was diplomatic in his answer, which of course he has to do while he's being interviewed by 31 other teams. Frederick said that "Any of the 32 teams is going to be a great opportunity."
Alabama's Jones, unlike Frederick, will not be participating in any physical drills at the combine because of torn ligaments in his left foot and having surgery after the BCS Championship Game in January. Memphis' newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, has a story on Jones and his draft stock. Jones was asked about why he waited until after the Championship Game to have the surgery instead of having it immediately and likely being able to work out before the draft:
I never once considered it. It’s the national championship game. You’ve got to do everything you can to get ready for it. To play in that one last game with my teammates was definitely worth it.
An athlete putting the good of the team ahead of his own? Captain Spock would be proud. Then again, that's the kind of thing that Jones has done at Alabama, playing practically every position on the offensive line in his tenure there. While it may cost him some money in the long run, it's certainly an admirable decision.
Since he can't work out this week, Jones is looking at the whole Combine process as a way to showcase his off-the-field qualities:
I’m looking at this like a job interview, to show them what kind of player and person I am, and hopefully find a team that wants me.
Don't worry, Barrett, there are likely several General Managers who want you.