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March 28, 2008
Dorsey proves he belongs near top of draft
BATON ROUGE, La. – Atlanta defensive line coach Ray Hamilton looked LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey straight in the eye as he gave him instructions about how to do a drill and said, "Just like you're covering A.I."
That's Allen Iverson, for fans who lack the ability to transpose sports. Or for you fans who lack a gift for the absurd. The image of the 6-foot-1, 297-pound Dorsey going lateral against the 6-foot, 165-pound Iverson crossover is downright amusing.
But maybe not as absurd as you think.
Dorsey on Wednesday afternoon solidified his spot as one of the top-five picks in April's NFL draft – not that there had been much doubt. Kansas City coach Herm Edwards, who attended Wednesday's LSU pro day workout with Chiefs team president Carl Peterson as they try to figure how to use this year's No. 5 overall pick, was so worried about Dorsey's 40-yard dash time that he barely watched.
"That doesn't even matter," Edwards said. "As long as he doesn't fall down, that stuff doesn't even matter."
What did matter were the array of drills Dorsey did at the end, including some during which he chased, changed direction and showed off his efficient footwork. It wasn't exactly Jason Taylor doing the mambo Monday night on "Dancing With The Stars," but it certainly left the many coaches and defensive coordinators starry-eyed.
Dorsey worked through a 30-minute gauntlet, ending with an exhausting hand-fighting drill run by Kansas City defensive line coach Tim Krumrie. This all came after Dorsey had done the usual array of standard tests – from the 40 to the bench press – leaving his sleeves soaked with sweat after running a 5.14 40, doing 27 reps at 225 pounds, and logging an 8-foot-4 broad jump and a 25½-inch vertical.
All were well within the range scouts and coaches were looking for. But the real test was the gauntlet of agility drills, capped by Krumrie.
"I heard about that one," Dorsey said of the infamous test of endurance and the ability to keep away an opponent's hands. "He's testing to see if you have any quit in you at the end. I think I showed I have some fight."
Said Peterson: "He faded quick, but I wasn't surprised at that because they put him through a very tough workout before he did that one."
Peterson added that the drill tests competitiveness and that many players shy away from it.
"You hear a lot of guys say, 'Hey, I just pulled a hamstring, coach Krumrie,' " he said.
Peterson is among the team executives in position to consider Dorsey. Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, on the other hand …
"I don't know why I'm here," Ryan joked. "He's not going to be there when we draft."
The Ravens have the No. 8 overall pick.
"Actually, put down that I said he looked terrible and definitely shouldn't go in the top seven picks," Ryan said with a wink.
That notion actually wasn't absurd too long ago.
A month back at the NFL scouting combine, there was some feeling that Dorsey could slide after a medical report said he still had a stress fracture in his right leg from an injury he suffered two years ago. However, Dorsey's workout, combined with the fact that he never missed a game at LSU may quell that talk.
Dorsey has played with an array of injuries, from the shin problem in 2006 to a strained medial collateral ligament and bruised tailbone in 2007.
"The tailbone was the worst," Dorsey said. "I could bend over and get in my stance, but every time I came out of my stance, it would send pain shooting through my body."
As for reports of other problems, which included a supposed mystery knee surgery, Dorsey did his best to laugh them off.
"I think y'all in the media have to come up with something to talk about at this point," he said with a chuckle.
When asked about the medical reports, Peterson said: "He checked out fine with us."
Of course, that was the theme of the day for Dorsey as he left the assembled coaches dutifully wowed. One coach even described Dorsey's workout as the best he had seen by a defensive tackle in at least five or six years.
In fact, several compared Dorsey favorably with former Pro Bowl regular Warren Sapp, calling Dorsey a "rare" combination of size, speed and strength.
"Whatever system you want to play with him, 3-4, 4-3, whatever, he can do it," said Edwards, a devotee of the 4-3 scheme. "He's going to have an immediate impact for whoever gets him."
Dorsey showed off a combination of explosive quickness which was matched by his ability to change direction. Dorsey is not overwhelmingly big, but he has physical qualities that project him to be a dominant interior pass rusher and a difficult player to block. For instance, Dorsey's arms measured at nearly 35 inches, unusually long for a man his size and giving him a wingspan of more than seven feet. Players with long arms can play with great leverage, often overcoming bigger, taller opponents by keeping their hands away.
The other quality so many coaches were impressed by was Dorsey's flexibility.
"You see his ability to bend at his hips, his knees and even his ankles," Ryan said. "The great pass rushers in this game, they have that ability to bend and be flexible to get away from blockers or get around them. That's what you see with the really athletic defensive ends in our league. With this kid, it's the same thing."
Therein lies the interesting comparison. Is Dorsey a good enough overall player to overcome the traditional bias in favor of defensive ends over defensive tackles? Most NFL talent evaluators will tell you that after quarterback, the next most important position in football is the pass-rushing defensive end.
But a great pass-rushing defensive tackle is awfully intriguing, particularly this year with so few great offensive skill players worth taking at the top of the draft; only quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Darren McFadden appear to be strong candidates to go in the top 10.
This has led many NFL executives and coaches to believe there will be an early run on defensive linemen. Dorsey and defensive end Chris Long figure to lead that run, followed closely by the likes of Vernon Gholston of Ohio State, Derrick Harvey of Florida and Sedrick Ellis of Southern California.
"You're probably looking at something like that," Edwards said. "These defensive linemen look awfully good."
Jason Cole is a national NFL writer for Yahoo! Sports. Send Jason a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.