The immediate question surrounding every player from a small school is how their game translates against bigger competition.
In the case of Ravens seventh-round wide receiver Aaron Mellette, the former Elon star had an impressive game against Vanderbilt, catching 11 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.
The 6-foot-2, 217-pounder caught 97 passes for 1,398 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and also excelled at the Senior Bowl all-star game.
Mellette doesn't lack for confidence after dominating the Southern Conference with 304 career receptions for 4,254 yards and 44 touchdowns.
"I think I can do a little bit of everything," Mellette said in a conference call. "I can beat people deep, go across the middle, break tackles, go up and get the ball. I’m just a versatile guy. That’s how I look at myself.”
Mellette had private workouts with the Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks. He didn't visit or work out for the Ravens, but talked to coach John Harbaugh at the NFL scouting combine and met with offensive coaches and did some blackboard work.
Mellette ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds at the NFL scouting combine, bench pressing 225 pounds nine times with a 33 1/2 inch vertical leap, a 10-3 broad jump, a 4.41 20-yard shuttle and a 7.11 three-cone drill.
"He's a big athlete," Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said. "He's kind of a subtle route runner. You don't realize he's as fast as he is when you watch him on film. He's really smooth. He has quick feet after the catch and at the top of his route. He catches the ball well. If you watch him our, our scouts noticed it and recognized it during the meetings.
"He has played against a lot of stepped up competition. Appalachian State is obviously one of the top teams in that conference, but he has played against North Carolina. He has played against Vanderbilt . He has always stepped up. He has torched [Appalachian State] for over 500 yards in the past three years. So big competition doesn't bother him. He has played well. He went to the Senior Bowl and had a good week down there."
Last October, Mellette had 237 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
The Ravens drafted Mellette with the 238th overall selection. Ge was wondering if he would get picked at all when he got a call from general manager Ozzie Newsome.
"After round four, five, six, I was like, ‘Man,'" Mellette said. "I thought I was going to be a free agent … but then Mr. Newsome called me with the great news and I was shocked. But God has a plan for everybody and I’m glad I was able to land with the Ravens.”
Mellette didn't play football until he was a sophomore in high school growing up in Sanford, N.C., where he initially concentrated on basketball.
Now Mellette is the first Elon player to go to the Senior Bowl and the first Elon player to get drafted since linebacker Chad Nkang was picked by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the seventh round in 2007.
Mellette is under no illusions about what awaits him.
“I’ve just got to come in and learn the playbook and figure out new ways to get open because what we did in college is more than likely not going to work in the NFL.”
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