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02-26-2007, 12:54 AM
Area draft prospects jockey for position

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, February 26, 2007


INDIANAPOLIS - One likely would have gone to the NFL after his junior season if he hadn't hurt his knee.

The other decided that he couldn't pass on the NFL after his junior season even though, he conceded, he could have improved as a player if he had returned to school for another year.

Whatever route they have taken, both Paul Posluszny and Darrelle Revis are poised to carry on the Aliquippa area's proud football tradition.

They have already done so to a large degree, with Posluszny starring at Penn State as a linebacker and Revis at Pitt as a cornerback. At the end of April, the two could become first-round NFL draft picks.

They're hoping to help their causes at the NFL Scouting Combine, though Revis will not run, he said, because of a strained hamstring.

He figures to impress teams nonetheless during interviews because confidence is as critical for a cornerback as speed -- and Revis is not lacking in that department.

During a question-and-answer session Sunday, Revis said "none" when asked how many times he got beat in what proved to be his final season at Pitt.

"I'm not a ****y guy, I'm just confident in my game," said Revis, who was measured at 5-foot-11 and weighed 204 pounds. "When I want people to look at Darrelle Revis, I want them to look at how many categories in which he never gets beat. That's one of the things I take to heart and I work at."

The Aliquippa High graduate said teams threw at him between "10 and 15" times last season, and his success shutting down one side of the field is a big reason why Revis is considered one of the top cornerback prospects in the draft.

After consulting his family and Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt and learning that he would be no worse than a second-round pick in the 2007 draft, Revis decided to forgo his senior season at Pitt.

He will continue to follow in the cleat marks left by his uncle, Sean Gilbert, a mammoth defensive tackle who starred at Pitt and played 12 seasons in the NFL.

A pair of ESPN analysts have Revis, who will run for teams during Pitt's pro day on March 17, going in the first round of their mock drafts (Todd McShay has the Cincinnati Bengals taking him with the 18th pick, and Mel Kiper Jr. has the New Orleans Saints selecting him with the 27th pick).

Only one of them (McShay) has Posluszny going in the first round, and that's to the Chicago Bears with the 31st pick.

"Opinions are all over the board on Posluszny," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "Most people think at best Posluszny is a mid-to-late first-round pick. I know teams that value him in the third round.

"But when you put on the tape, the kid makes plays all over the field. I think one of those playoff teams (picking later in the first round) is going to say 'Wow, he's a tough kid, smart kid, he flies all over the field and he can come in and play for us.' "

Posluszny won several major awards at Penn State, including the Butkus and Bednarik, and he finished his career as the school's all-time leading tackler.

No less an authority on linebackers than Jack Ham said he was the best one to ever play at the school that has been dubbed "Linebacker U."

There are, however, questions about Posluszny's size and where he fits into the NFL as a linebacker.

He played outside his first three years at Penn State before moving inside. That switch, plus the lingering effects of a knee injury that knocked him out of Penn State's 26-23 win over Florida State in the 2006 Orange Bowl, slowed him at the beginning of his senior season.

Posluszny still captured first-team All-American honors as well as the Bednarik Award, which is given to the nation's top defensive player, for a second straight year.

Had he not gotten hurt in the Orange Bowl, Posluszny would have been a certain first-round pick. Such a scenario would have made it tough for him not to enter the draft last year, Posluszny acknowledged, but the Hopewell High graduate said returning to Penn State for his senior season was ultimately the best thing for him.

"Last year, if I would have come out as a junior, I was a little young and a little light," said Posluszny, who was measured at just over 6-1 at the combine and weighed 238 pounds. "I think it's a lot better that I'm here as a senior."

The positions Posluszy and Revis play are ones the Steelers could address early in the draft.

"I've always dreamed of playing NFL football," Posluszny said, "and definitely being from Western Pennsylvania with the Steelers and the great tradition that they've had ... when you're a little kid running around the back yard, you're pretending you're the Steelers."

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