INDIANAPOLIS -SMU's Margus Hunt looks like a combination of Ivan Drago from "Rocky 4" and King Leonidas from "300."
He didn't throw out any Drago-like one-liners like "I must break you" or "You will lose" during his podium session at the NFL Scouting Combine Saturday, but Hunt's just a big, physically imposing defensive lineman who's been moving up draft boards in recent months based on his rare and intriguing combination of size and athleticism, his play as a senior at SMU and, more recently, his performance at the combine.
Hunt was the tallest player at this year's scouting combine, measuring in at just over 6-foot-8 and 277 pounds. He's a former junior champion in both the shot put and the discus. And just four years after playing organized football for the first time, the Estonia native is projected as a possible first-round pick in this year's NFL draft.
The Baltimore Ravens were among numerous teams to conduct formal meetings with Hunt at the combine.
NFL Network NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock said of Hunt: "He's a big, impressive kid that I think down the road will be a heck of a player."
It's been an interesting journey for Hunt.
He won gold medals in both the shot put and discus at the 2006 World Junior Championships in Beijing, arrived at SMU a year later to train with world-renowned coach Dave Wollman and ended up joining the SMU football team in 2009 despite never having played a down of football in his life to that point.
Hunt told reporters in Indianapolis during the weekend that the extent of his football experience prior to joining the team at SMU was merely attending a few of the school's football games as a student. He said his understanding of football was limited enough at that point that he started playing the Madden NFL video game to help him learn the basics of the game, even things as simple as "how many people are on the field at one time."
Yet, just four years later, Hunt is expected to be selected at some point during the first two rounds of the NFL draft in April.
He had eight sacks as a senior at SMU this past season and finished his college career with 17 blocked kicks, including an NCAA-record nine blocked field goals.
At the combine, Hunt did 38 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, tied for the most of any player at the event, and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.60 seconds, which was tied for the third-best time among defensive linemen.
He's considered to still be very raw at this point, and he's still viewed as very much a work in progress, but a scouting report of Hunt on NFL.com describes him as a player with "loads of potential."