by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
If you’re thinking of drafting a receiver, imagine a 6-foot-2, 216-pounder who led his team in receptions last year. Now envision him placing in the top ten for his position in all NFL combine events.
Believe it or not, you’re picturing Scott Long (and you can see his combine video here).
Why don’t we hear more about Louisville’s 2009 leader in catches? The Cardinals’ 4-8 record probably didn’t help. Add to that the fact that he missed most of his junior year with a knee injury, and the potential doubt in some scouts’ minds makes a little more sense.
Long spoke to PD about his combine performance (including his whiplash-worthy 6.45-second three-cone drill), his abilities as a receiver, and his favorite all-time sport.
I wanted to talk to you about your combine and about your success at Louisville, and start off with a tough question, which is: why do you think we don’t hear a little more about you?
Oh, I think there were some – I had some health issues, some injuries while I was at Louisville. That kind of hindered my success a little bit, as far as stats go. I basically missed my junior year – I played three games my junior season. And early in my career, I was a role player. I wasn’t a veteran, older guy that got a whole bunch of reps. I pretty much missed my junior year, and then coming into my senior year, our team struggled. We didn’t win very many games, so we didn’t have a ton of people lining up stories on a national level, following our games and stuff like that. So I feel like I kind of got lost in the shuffle a little bit with that stuff.
It seemed like, looking at the offensive statistics for Louisville this past season, that there was production, but it wasn’t like there was any one, dominant player. Do you think that’s true?
Yes, sir. I definitely agree with that. That definitely goes hand-in-hand with that, stat-wise.
And what kind of a receiver do you think you are? It seems like in this draft there are some speedsters and there are some possession guys. Do you see yourself as one or the other?
I think that, you know, I know I can stretch the field. I have the speed to do that. That was sort of something that really comes natural to me. And there’s also been times when I’ve been asked to be that guy that moves the chains on third down, and a guy that can consistently catch the ball on third down. So, however you want to label that – you know, possession receiver, deep threat – I view myself as a guy that can get the job done, whatever’s asked of me, to be honest.
How would you describe Louisville’s offense, and do you think you were able to showcase all your talents this past year?
I think that our offense could be best described as a pro-style offense. We were in two-back sets a lot of times, quarterback under the center. There were some things that – you know, obviously, in a spread-type offense there’s going to be a lot more stats, a lot more catches, a lot more touchdowns, things like that. But I think I played well in the system that we had, and I think that system translates well to the next level, so I’m glad that I was able to get that experience.
Did you get to work on your blocking at all?
Yes, sir. Yes, sir. That was huge for our team. Our receivers coach was a stickler for blocking. I love to block; I love to get in there and get my nose dirty, digging safeties out or blocking in the backside for a long run. It really helps you set yourself up for the pass game as well. Whenever you’re really aggressive in the run game, you know, guys are a little timid to come up and try to get their hands on you.
Speaking of your strength, you did really well at the combine in a lot of categories. Did you perform the way that you wanted to, or did you surprise yourself at all? Were there any disappointments?
Oh, for the most part, the goals that I set for myself, I reached a lot of them. I would have liked to run the 40 a little faster (than 4.46 seconds), I think. For the most part, though, I think I reached my goals or were right around the numbers that I set for myself and I knew that I could do it. I knew I could achieve some of those things that I did. It was a gratifying feeling, and I really feel blessed that I had the opportunity to do it on such a big stage.
What would have been a satisfying time for you in the 40?
It’s hard to say with the laser (timing device), you know, how it was at the combine, because I know a lot of the teams had different times on their own watches. And from what I’ve heard, a lot of the teams had me in the 4.3s, and that’s probably, you know, right where I am, in the 4.3 range, in my opinion. It just looks better than seeing that 4.4 on the laser time, mentally, how some of those guys get with that stuff.
Is that something that you’ve talked to teams about?
My agent has, Tom Kleine… He spoke to some teams and said that several teams had me in the 4.3s.
Well, one time that was spectacular was your 6.45 in the three-cone. Is that true?
(Laughs.) Yes, sir. Yes, sir. God was really good to me, and gave me the opportunity to do that. That was something I knew that I was going to get a good time on by the way I had been training – some of the numbers I had been getting in the trial runs and stuff like that, training. You know, I was definitely pleased when I heard that number and really excited about that.
If that had happened at your pro day and not the combine, I would think maybe somebody slipped on the watch a little early.
(Laughs.) I actually had – there was a scout at my pro day, he was talking about the three-cone drill. He was like, “So just tell me what happened. Did you cheat it, or did somebody, you know, mess up the time a little bit? Did you pay the guy timing?” He was joking about that, but it was definitely a great time. I was really elated to hear that time.
Is there a secret to that drill? Do you find yourself running it more efficiently the more you work at it, or is it just something where quickness always wins out?
The secret for me is just efficiency: not taking false steps, just being very efficient with my feet and my movements, and staying low to the ground. That’s basically it. A lot of people think that, you know, the quicker and the more steps that you take, the better, but I actually find that the least amount of steps possible is actually the way to go.
Do you think that drill is a better indicator of football speed than the 40, or do you think any drills are better than any others at showing what a player can do on the field?
I think that the three-cone – that, along with the 20-yard shuttle – is a very good determinant of football speed and quickness, especially at the wide receiver position, getting in and out of cuts. You know, the 40 is great as far as letting people know a range on a guy’s speed vertically, but a lot of times with that 40, it’s a lot about technique: if you can get a great start and hold your drive phase. But you don’t really run that like in football. As far as the turns and the things that you make in the shuttles and on those cones, I think that’s really reflective of what you have to do at the receiver position.
I’m sorry, did you say “hold your (drive)”? I didn’t get that phrase.
Oh, the drive phase, when you’re running the 40.
And what is that?
It’s like, whenever you start, you come up out of your stance and you try to run in kind of a parallel position to the ground, rather than just popping straight up and running straight up-and-down. You know, keeping that good, body-forward lean, almost like you’re driving a car.
Yeah, I read that you ran some track, and now I understand that you definitely did. Tell me about running track in high school and whether it was something that you thought about pursuing in college.
Track was something that I actually was talked into doing my senior year of high school. I was a baseball player since I was six years old, and baseball was my first love, something I always did. Track and baseball are in the same season, so I always did baseball. Coming into my senior year, I had already signed a football scholarship to play at Louisville, and the track coach came up to me and talked me into coming out for track. It was actually an interesting deal that we worked out: I practiced and played games with the baseball team, and just did the track meets. So, I would go to baseball practice all week, and then just come to the track meet and run. You know, I didn’t have any practice or training or anything like that – I didn’t even really know how to use the (starting) blocks. That’s just kind of what I did for my senior year, and I ended up making it to state and finished in the top five in the state. So, that was actually a pretty cool experience.
What other schools were you looking at, and what made you decide on Louisville?
I had several ACC schools that recruited me, but I only had offers from Wake Forest, NC State and Louisville. And the reason I chose Louisville was because when I was coming out of high school, the offense at Louisville was tops in the country. In 2003 and 2004, they had a top-three (nationally ranked) offense, year in and year out. You know, I wanted to be a part of that. They sold me on being able to be a part of that, and (to) be showcased, and with that kind of high-octane offense, I really wanted to take the opportunity.
Now that you’ve finished your college career, and looking at the next phase, what would you like NFL teams to know about you that they might not see on film, or might not have gotten from seeing you before?
Maybe just the fact that I love the game. Getting me as a receiver, you would be getting a lot more than just a pass-catcher. I feel like, in today’s game, you have a lot of guys that play the receiver position that are only interested in their stats and getting the ball, and are kind of all about themselves. Distractions in the locker room. I feel like I am a guy who is a football player. I’ll do what you ask of me. I block – I love blocking. I can make the catch on third down, I can stretch the field and make big plays down the field for my team. Just a football player, a guy that is passionate about the game and gives his all in every aspect.
Have you been meeting with NFL teams at all?
Yes, sir. I’ve met with a couple. I got to meet with a lot of teams down at the combine and at my All-Star game (Texas vs. The Nation). And then since the combine I’ve had a bunch of teams call, and I’ve had a couple of personal workouts.
Can you comment on who those teams were, or are you kind of keeping that close to the vest?
I’m pretty sure that we’re supposed to kind of keep it under wraps a little bit. They kind of get a little antsy about giving information out.
Have there been any surprises at those meetings, or do you think you’re pretty well prepared for them?
Oh, I think I was pretty well prepared for them. I guess maybe a surprise would be how closely back-to-back they were. I know they don’t call each other and say, “When are you going to go in and work this guy out?” So it’s just kind of based on their schedule, but I had several workouts back-to-back-to-back and I kind of got a little tired on the way, a little bit.
How do you think those meetings went?
I think they went well. I got really positive feedback from all of them, my agent’s gotten positive feedback from all of them, and I’m just thanking God for the opportunity that He blessed me with, and hopefully I was able to impress someone.
All right. I hope so, too. I wish you a lot of luck.
Oh, I really appreciate that.
All right. Thanks a lot, Scott, and good luck on draft day.
All right, thanks. God bless you.
Email Chris Warner at [email protected]