Jake Long Of The University Of Michigan
INDIANAPOLISóWith the NFL Draft just over two months away, college players are going through a job interview this week known as the NFL Scouting Combine. Jake Long, an offensive tackle from Michigan, is projected as the top offensive lineman and a potential top-5 pick. In this Q&A with NFLPLAYERS.COM from the Combine, the 6-foot-7, 313-pound Long looks back on his stellar career with the Wolverines and talks about his responsibilities as a senior captain.
Q: How much do you think you helped yourself by staying for your senior year?
A: It has helped me a lot. Last year I didn't feel I was good enough to come out; I wanted to improve on things and those things I improved on. I feel I'm a smarter and better player than I was last year. I'm smarter in identifying the defenses. I worked on the little things in my game and I've gotten a lot better.
Q: How many sacks did you give up in college?
A: I gave up one sack this year. I've given up two in my career. This year it was Vernon Gholston at Ohio State. I take it personally. I wanted to make sure that I was perfect and not let up a sack but Vernon is a great player and he had a good move on me and I let up. I think it was against Michigan State my redshirt freshmen year that I last allowed one.
Q: Can you talk about playing left tackle and what that means to you?
A: I love the left side. I started off my first two years at right tackle and moved over to left the last two years. I'm left-handed and I feel very comfortable on that side. I think I proved myself as a left tackle.
Q: How much did you grow this year going through the ups and downs at Michigan?
A: You have to go through adversity in this game and this season, our whole teamódefinitely the seniors and all the coachesówent through adversity. We pulled together and showed our leadership, grew up fast and turned the season around.
Q: Do you have any comments on Rich Rodriguez and the whole circus surrounding his hiring?
A: I hope Coach Rodriguez does great for Michigan and carries on the tradition. I have not met him. I'll probably do that when I go back for Pro Day. But I hope he does great things for Michigan. As long as they bring someone in with a great reputation which Rodriguez has, he'll do great things for Michigan.
Q: Have you talked to the Dolphins? How would you feel about playing for them?
A: It would be an honor. I haven't talked to them yet. I've had some informal meetings, [but] nothing formal. It would be a great honor.
Q: What do you know about the Kansas City Chiefs? What have you heard?
A: I really don't know much about Kansas City. All I know is that a lot of the offensive linemen are gone. [I'll] probably start talking to them in time but right now I really don't know.
Q: Do you feel like you will play left tackle as a rookie?
A: Absolutely, I think I can play that position [in the NFL].
Q: What are your thoughts about pass protecting a mobile quarterback? Do you see a big difference?
A: I've never pass-blocked for a mobile quarterback at Michigan. It's been Chad (Henne) who is a pocket quarterback so we just make sure we protect the pocket and don't let anyone get in there. So I really can't talk on how to block for a mobile quarterback.
I'm going to have to follow in his footsteps and represent for the Big Ten.
-- Jake Long on Joe Thomas Q: If you go to Oakland and you have JaMarcus Russell, would that be a big adjustment for you?
A: I don't think it would be a big adjustment. It would not be hard.
Q: How much pride do you take in being a team captain?
A: That's the greatest honor that I could ever receive coming out of Michigan. To just get captain once and then get it twice was a great honor, to know you have that respect from your teammates. I try to live up to it everyday and live by example.
Q: What were your responsibilities as captain?
A: Be a leader on and off the field. Lead by example. Come to practice and be one of the best players out there. Lead your team to victories.
Q: What's your biggest hurdle to get to the next level?
A: I think playing against the D-ends in this league. They are fast and they are strong and they are huge. I definitely think that is going to be one thing I need to work on.
Q: What would a team that drafts you get?
A: They would get a hard-working, passionate player. Someone that comes to work and gives 100 percent every single day and has a true passion and love for the game.
Q: A year ago, Joe Thomas was in this same situation for the draft. He had a really good rookie year. Did you follow him at all?
A: He's a great player and represented his school in the Big Ten very well. He had a great rookie season. I'm going to have to follow in his footsteps and represent for the Big Ten. He showed me and all the other rookies that you can come in and make a huge impact, have a great season. That's encouraging to me and to other players I'm sure.
Q: What are you going to do on the day of the draft?
A: Probably just hang out with my family.
Q: Are there any players that you admire or pattern your game after?
A: Someone like Matt Light from the Patriots. He's a great player. [His] technique is sound. He tries to do the little things right. He looks like an intense player and that is the type of guy I want to be.