Steve Schilling EnlargeINDIANAPOLIS – In the NFL’s ultimate talent show, Steve Schilling hopes his skills, and his proud pedigree, will move him towards the top of the draft list as he pursues a professional football career.
The Michigan offensive lineman took part in an early session of the NFL Combine Thursday as specific groups of players went through a series of interviews and psychological tests. Over a period of seven days, the NFL will measure, test, and work out more than 300 former college players.
Schilling got his initial in-person look at the competition he will face when the NFL draft takes place in late April. At the Combine, a marathon evaluation session where coaches, medical personnel, and other representatives from all 32 NFL teams scrutinize every tiny nuance of a player’s complete picture, Schilling sought calm.
“I’m just trying to be patient, and take it all in stride,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that you can’t control in the process, so you just try and control what you can, and have fun with it, because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Schilling, a four-year starter at Michigan where he played two years at right tackle and two years at left guard, missed only one of the 50 games in his career with the Wolverines.
He said he had heard about a number of the other outstanding offensive linemen from around the country, but Thursday got to spend time with many of them as the pros started to put the prospects through the paces in Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.
“It’s good to see all of these guys you hear about all year, and I look forward to going out and competing against them in some of these drills,” Schilling said. The offensive linemen are scheduled to do their skill drills and on-field workouts Saturday.
Schilling (6-5, 308) hopes his resume with the Wolverines, his performance at the Combine, plus Michigan’s history of producing top offensive linemen for the NFL will work in his favor in the draft.
Michigan offensive lineman Jake Long was the top pick in the 2008 draft, and Long has started all 48 games for the Miami Dolphins in his three-year NFL career.
“The school has so many great players, year in and year out, on the offensive line,” Schilling said. “I got to play with Jake for a couple of years and he obviously had a great career and is doing well in the NFL.”
The group of former Michigan offensive linemen who have gone on to make an impact in the NFL includes Jon Jansen, Dan Dierdorf, Jumbo Elliott, and Stefan Humphries. More recently, the Wolverines have sent Steve Hutchinson, Jeff Backus, and Long to the pros.
Hutchinson started for four years on the offensive line at Michigan, and was a four-time all-Big Ten selection. Backus also has been in the NFL for a decade, and has not missed a game with the Detroit Lions, starting 160 straight.
After sitting out his first year at Michigan following shoulder surgery and a bout of mononucleosis, Schilling missed just one game in the remainder of his career due to an injury. He finished tied for second with Backus for the most career starts in Michigan history by an offensive lineman and Schilling expects his durability to be a major plus with the NFL scouts.
“It’s definitely something I take a lot of pride in,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of my best accomplishments, being able to stay so durable and play for so many years there. It’s something that I’ll always be able to look back on and cherish.”
Although he played in a spread offense at Michigan for the past three seasons, Schilling said his experience in a pro-style attack under head coach Lloyd Carr in Schilling’s first season at Ann Arbor should help him as he continues to audition in front of the NFL coaches and personnel.
“I think I was fortunate ... playing under coach Carr’s system,” he said.
“I’m trying to show teams that I remember those things.”
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