INDIANAPOLIS – Compared to some of Ohio State’s other representatives at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, Mike Weber hasn’t gotten as much attention as an NFL draft prospect.
Weber isn’t projected to be selected until the middle rounds of the draft, and he’s not considered to be one of the star prospects at his position; Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller ranked him as the 2019 draft’s 11th-best running back going into the combine, while DraftAnalyst.com’s Tony Pauline gave him a fourth-round grade.
Ask Weber what he thinks about those projections, though, and he won’t be shy to tell you he thinks he deserves more credit.
“I feel like right now I’m getting a little slept on,” Weber said during his interview session at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday. “That’s something I can’t control. All I can control is to come out here and give it my best and show these teams why I should be at the top.”
Even though he isn’t expected to be an early-round draft selection as of now, Weber isn’t selling himself short. When asked what round he expected to be selected in, Weber said he hopes to be selected on day one regardless of what projections might indicate.
“If I’m going to be honest? First round,” Weber said with a laugh. “You never know. I have no idea. Like I said, I can only control what I can control. Sell myself to these teams. Show them my film, show them my pass blocking, my catching, my running, my smartness of the game. Even my intangibles off the field, me being a good guy and being level-headed and making good decisions, all this stuff plays a part.”
Weber will have his chance to make his case for being a higher draft pick on Friday, the first day of on-field workouts at the combine, when he will take the field along with more two dozen other running backs trying to prove that they should be selected.
He didn’t want to give a specific expectation for his 40-yard dash time on Thursday, but he expects to run fast, while he also believes he can showcase his receiving ability – after catching just 21 passes for 112 yards last season – in running back position drills.
“I didn’t really get thrown to me too much at Ohio State, I can show that,” Weber said. “I can my speed that a lot of people have been sleeping on, obviously. My cutting ability, the whole nine.”
Weber started off his combine workout by putting up 22 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press on Thursday, tied for the sixth-best mark out of 26 running backs who participated.
Learning from a legend
As Michael Jordan and Isaiah Prince have gone through their first few days at the combine, they’ve had the opportunity to learn from one of Ohio State’s all-time great offensive linemen: Nick Mangold, an All-American center for the Buckeyes who went on to be a seven-time Pro Bowler in 11 NFL seasons with the New York Jets.
Mangold has been working with the offensive linemen in Indianapolis this week as an ambassador of the NFL Legends Community, serving as a mentor for the players who are now looking to follow in his footsteps, including Prince and Jordan.
Both players appreciated having the opportunity from someone who was also an Ohio State offensive lineman and who they watched play in the NFL, and Prince said having the opportunity to talk to Mangold helped ease his nerves for his workout.
“He’s been doing a great job of just keeping everybody level-headed,” Prince said. “Especially being an Ohio State alum, just talking to him and really getting to know him, pick his brain, has definitely been a big help since I’ve been here.”
Jordan said Mangold’s advice to him was “make sure you’re on time to everything, and don’t be that guy.”
“What he means by that is just ‘Don’t be that guy to show up late. Don’t be that guy to not do things correct,’” Jordan said.
Jordan and Prince are in the second group of offensive linemen who will take the field for on-field workouts Friday, meaning they should begin running the 40-yard dash around 11 a.m., but they’ll likely be ready to go much earlier in the morning if they’re listening to Mangold’s advice.
Prince put up 23 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press on Thursday, while Jordan had 19. Both of those numbers ranked them in the bottom half of the offensive linemen who participated in the drill, but the bench press typically favors players with shorter arms – Prince’s arms measured in at 35 1/2 inches on Wednesday, while Jordan’s measured in at 34 1/4 inches.
Higdon doesn’t regret his “guarantee”
Karan Higdon became an infamous name to Ohio State fans before this year’s rivalry game against Michigan when Higdon, a running back for the Wolverines, responded affirmatively when asked the Monday before The Game if he would guarantee a win for the maize and blue – much like his coach, Jim Harbaugh, did before the Wolverines’ victory over Ohio State in 1986.
“Would you go as far as Jim Harbaugh did, and guarantee that Michigan would beat Ohio State?” a reporter asked.
“Yeah, I do,” Higdon said. “That’s how I feel. I believe firmly in my brothers and this team and this coaching staff, and as a captain, I’ll take that stand. Why not?”
That response became bulletin-board material for the Buckeyes, and multiple Ohio State players suggested after their 62-39 win that it served as extra motivation to beat their hated rival.
Asked about that guarantee on Thursday, however, Higdon said he wouldn’t change the way he responded.
"It was a tough question, and I handled it the best way I could. If I could go back, I would handle it the same way,” Higdon said. "Regardless of how I answered it ... it was going to be criticized and looked down upon."
Karan Higdon on his "guarantee" before the Ohio State/Michigan game: "It was a tough question, and I handled it the best way I could. If I could go back, I would handle it the same way.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) February 28, 2019
"Regardless of how I answered it ... it was going to be criticized and looked down upon." pic.twitter.com/AixhMoKZYL
Higdon said Harbaugh was upset about the way the question was presented to him, but Higdon has no regrets, because he felt he couldn’t have answered the question any other way.
“It was a lose-lose situation no matter which way I would have answered it,” Higdon said. “I’m confident in my team. Going back I would still feel the same way. If I didn’t say it, then it would have been taken as I wasn’t confident in the game or my team.”