In what is likely the most stressful day of their lives, three former Wolfpackers will look to start the next chapter of their careers via the NFL Draft, which begins tonight. While it’s highly unlikely Young, Larsen or Baker will get drafted tonight, there is a good chance all three will be taken by the end of the weekend.
Here’s three different stories about the draft prospects of these three very different players.
Willie Young’s life is centered on two things – catching fish and quarterbacks.
A defensive end from North Carolina State by way of Palm Beach Gardens High, Young is expected to be a mid- to late-round selection in this week’s NFL Draft. Creeping anxiety caused by the draft’s uncertainty has Young seeking refuge where he can find it.
Ask Young, 24, what he’s been told regarding his draft status and he responds with a crack: “All I’m hearing right now are dumbbells clanging and fish splashing,” he said.
The dumbbells are for his 6-foot-5, 251-pound body. The splashing fish are for his head.
“It’s a privilege to be in this situation, but it can easily become very stressful,” said Young, whose younger brother, Avery, is a heralded offensive lineman at Palm Beach Gardens. “It’s the moment of a lifetime … but the closer that day comes, the more free time it seems I have to sit around and think about it. Fishing is an opportunity for me to get away.”
Last week, that meant searching for peacock bass on the state’s west coast. Other times, the fishing takes him closer to his father’s home in Riviera Beach.
When Toney Baker suited up for the East all-stars at the 2005 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, the Ragsdale senior was the starting running back.
His backup that day in San Antonio was Rashard Mendenhall, who is about to enter his third NFL season as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ incumbent starter.
On the other sideline were running backs named Jonathan Stewart and Jamaal Charles, who also are two-year pros â€” Stewart with the Carolina Panthers, Charles with the Kansas City Chiefs.
And now, at last, it’s Baker’s turn to get his shot at the NFL.
The first round of the NFL draft starts at 7:30 p.m. today (ESPN). Baker knows his name won’t be called tonight, and probably not Friday in the second and third rounds.
Saturday is a different story.
“I expect to be drafted. Definitely,” Baker said. “I went on visits to the San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans. They both liked me a lot. I’ve been getting a lot of calls from other teams, too. You just never know with the draft.”
Ted Larsen is an offensive lineman that attended NC State, where he played center after being converted from a defensive tackle. After his first year as the center he was added to the Rimington trophyÂ watch list, the Rimington trophy is given to the top collegiate center.
Larsen is officially listed at 6’2″, 304 pounds, and the all important arm length at 32 inches. Many scouts have him listed as the fifth best center in the draft.
Like I mentioned above Larsen has only been playing center at the collegiate level for two years and he can improve but he has solid fundamentals and consistently stays low with his knees bent.
He also handles speed rushers with success and can redirect them very nicely, this makes him versatile and he can play both center and offensive guard.
Larsen recently participated in the NFL combine where his best performance was seventh in the 20-yard shuttle run, where he ran it in 4.66 seconds. He also did the 225 pound bench rep 26 times. His stock could see some potential rise on his pro day which will be on March 24th.
Many Scouts have Larsen going as early as the fourth round but the overall consensus is that he will be taken in the fifth round.