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2014 NFL Draft class has depth

02/21/2014, 1:09am EST
By DAVID BRIGGS BLADE SPORTS WRITER

INDIANAPOLIS — It is a buyer’s meat market at the NFL scouting combine this week, with league executives and analysts calling this year’s draft one of the strongest in memory.

NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock said a general manager told him, “Having a top-20 pick this year is very similar to having a top-10 pick last year.”

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert labeled a class loaded with a record 98 underclassmen the deepest he’s evaluated in 30 years in the profession.

“You can look across the board and I can’t see a position where there isn’t more depth than there has ever been,” Colbert said Thursday. “It’s exciting.”

For the 335 auditioning prospects, it means the fight for positioning will be that more bruising. Those prospects include former Ohio State left tackle and St. John’s Jesuit graduate Jack Mewhort, University of Toledo running back David Fluellen, and a roster of others with Big Ten and Mid-American Conference ties.

Mewhort is one of six Buckeyes — along with running back Carlos Hyde, linebacker Ryan Shazier, cornerback Bradley Roby, center Corey Linsley, and receiver Corey Brown — and 32 players from the Big Ten at the combine.

Fluellen is one of 10 representatives from the MAC.

Michigan had three invitees: Left tackle Taylor Lewan, right tackle Michael Schofield, and wide receiver Jeremy Gallon.

The combine runs through Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

LEWAN DENIES ALLEGATION: Lewan denied a report that he threatened a woman who accused former Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons of sexual assault in 2009.

Gibbons, who previously lived with Lewan, was expelled in December for a violation of the school’s student sexual misconduct policy. The punishment stemmed from a 2009 incident, according to the Michigan Daily.

“That’s definitely a situation between those two people,” Lewan said, speaking for the first time on the allegations he contacted the accuser. “I’m not here to protect Brendan or the young lady. That’s not what I’m here to do. I’m here to talk about football.

“I can say that I’ve never said those things. I’ve said a lot of dumb things in my life, but those are not things that I’ve said. That’s definitely a very touchy subject. I would never disrespect a woman like that. I like to consider myself a guy that likes to hold doors instead of threaten people. That’s not the kind of person I am.”

WAIT ’TIL NEXT YEAR: Missing from this football bazaar: Braxton Miller.

That’s because the Ohio State quarterback said this week, “I felt like I left some things out on the field.”

Like, say, the prospect of an unprecedented third straight Big Ten MVP award. Or the kind of poise as a passer that could jack up his value for next year’s draft.

In his first interview since announcing he will return for his senior season, Miller said he thought “heavy” about the NFL before making what he called the “right decision.”

Miller said he received positive feedback from the league’s draft advisory board but declined to share his projected round, saying he’d share his grade “maybe when I leave next year.”

“As I sat down with the coaches, we observed everything to make sure I was making the right decision,” Miller said Wednesday night after being presented with his second straight Silver Football Award as Big Ten MVP during the Buckeyes’ basketball game.

“We went over everything, and it wasn’t too hard of a decision.”

Contact David Briggs at: dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.

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