Virginia middle linebacker and former Gilman standout Micah Kiser found himself Saturday standing behind a lectern adjacent to where Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, one of the top players in the draft class, was surrounded by reporters.
It was another reminder of how interesting the NFL scouting combine experience has been for Kiser who is focused on making a strong impression and proving that he’s plenty fast and explosive to be a quality sideline-to-sideline linebacker.
“I’m not the biggest person here, the fastest or the strongest, but I’m smart and I’m a productive football player,” he said. “I like to marry those two together.”
Kiser had a good Sunday, posting an unofficial time of 4.67 seconds in the 40-yard dash. With questions about his speed coming in, he said Saturday that his 40 time is “kind of my make-or-break thing for real.”
Kiser is just the second player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to lead the league in tackles in three straight seasons. The other was former Boston College standout Luke Kuechly who is now considered one of the top defensive players in the NFL.
Given his Baltimore upbringing, Kiser is unsurprisingly partial to another long-time NFL middle linebacker.
“Obviously, Ray Lewis,” he said with a smile before rattling off some of his other favorite ex-Ravens, a list that includes Ed Reed, Chris McAlister and Michael McCrary. “Growing up, when you have the Ravens defense in your backyard, you’re going to watch that.”
Kiser wasn’t the only Cavaliers player at the combine with Baltimore ties. Quarterback Kurt Benkert, a two-year starter at Virginia, was born in Baltimore and played junior varsity football at Loyola Blakefield. However, his parents got a divorce and he finished his high school years in Florida.
He called getting the opportunity to take part in the combine “a dream come true.”
Brown ‘going to slide’
NFL Network lead draft analyst Mike Mayock has little doubt that Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown’s performance at the combine will push him down teams’ draft boards.
Once viewed as a potential first-round pick, the son of the former Ravens tackle of the same name did just 14 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, tied for the third fewest for an offensive tackle since 2000, according to Pro Football Reference. His 5.85-second 40-yard dash was the fifth slowest since 2003, his 19 1/2–inch vertical leap was the third lowest ever and his 6-foot-10 broad jump was the worst that Pro Football Reference has ever recorded.
“That’s going to hurt him with some teams,” Mayock said in an interview with reporters Saturday. “First and foremost, there’s going to be a small group of teams because of what he does that like his style of play. But he’s going to slide a little bit.”