The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 24, 2008

Otah skips Pitt’s pro day

BY DALE GRDNIC

PITTSBURGH — Jeff Otah’s absence took some off the luster off of Pitt’s pro day workout on Monday, but eight others still had their chance to impress scouts at the UPMC Sports Complex.

Otah, an offensive tackle who did not participate due to a sore ankle, is projected to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft on April 26. He will conduct a private workout for NFL representatives April 9 in Pittsburgh.

“Several teams have called me so far,” Otah said. “The Bears, the Panthers, the Eagles, the Steelers, definitely are looking at me, and I just talked to Kansas City (Monday). But you never know how this things are going to work out.

“It’s all about team needs and how things play out on draft day. So, I just want to keep working hard and get some good measurables. I’ve got good film, but now I’ve got to get the other stuff, running, weightlifting and agility.”

Reporters were not allowed to view Pitt’s pro day events, but coach Dave Wannstedt said more than 40 NFL scouts and representatives were in attendance, even though some like, Carolina Panthers coach John Fox, canceled after Otah decided not to work out.

As expected, the Steelers were heavily represented, including coach Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert, the club’s director of football operations. Since Pitt shares the facility with the Steelers, they had already interviewed Otah, guard Mike McGlynn and tight end Darrell Strong.

“Otah, he’s got a lot of things that you like, and it starts with being 6-6 and 330,” Tomlin said. “But he’s a guy that’s performed well, and I’m sure everyone knows that he’s a capable guy.”

Tomlin likes McGlynn’s versatility.

“Position-flexibility is McGlynn’s most attractive quality, and he’s a tough guy,” Tomlin said. “We’ll evaluate Strong. He’s got some skills and some talent, so he’s a guy that has a shot to get drafted.”

Joe Clermond, Pitt’s productive defensive end, also has a chance to get drafted along with the aforementioned players. Colbert talked about his prospects.

“In our scheme, he’d have to be an outside linebacker, only because of his size (6-3, 260),” Colbert said. “He’s built like our linebackers. He’d have to be a linebacker in the 3-4. But in a 4-3, he could be a D-end.”

Former Pitt star and Steelers offensive line coach Russ Grimm, now an assistant head coach with the Arizona Cardinals, watched the workout with scouts from the Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, among others.

“After (Monday), we’ll find out which teams want to fly me in to visit with their franchises,” McGlynn said. “I’m just excited to possibly be drafted and to play in the NFL. It’s a goal of mine and a dream, so I can’t wait for the NFL draft next month. ... Different teams are looking at me in different ways, as a guard, a tackle, a center, so my versatility will help me out.”

Strong said he improved in every category from his NFL combine numbers.

“At the combine I think I had just one drop, so I wanted to make sure I caught everything here,” Strong said. “I think it’s important to show improvement, if you can, but it’s much more relaxed here than at the combine.

“That was very stressful. (But) I improved my vertical by 91⁄2 inches, so I think that was a good thing.”

The other players at the workout were cornerback Kennard Cox, safety Mike Phillips, cornerback Lowell Robinson, defensive end Chris McKillop and outside linebacker Jemeel Brady.