“Where do I feel most comfortable? I’ve always felt most comfortable with where I played last.”
Fisher is trying to follow the lead of Joe Staley, another Central Michigan alum who made it big in the NFL. Teams appear to like his quick feet and athleticism, skills he developed as a high school basketball player long before measuring in at 306 pounds on combine week.
What he needs to prove now is that he can make a smooth transition from the Mid-American Conference play to the NFL, something Staley and Greg Jennings have done but others have struggled with.
Long, the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long and brother of Rams defensive lineman Chris Long, appears to be the next in the family lineage with an NFL resume.
But he took a circuitous route to the combine by starting out as a Florida State pitcher. Long acknowledges that he struggled throwing his 96 mph fastball for strikes and eventually wound up on the police blotter following a DUI arrest in January 2009.
After leaving school, he headed back West, worked briefly in a surf shop and resurfaced as a football player at Saddleback Junior College in California before heading to Oregon, where he switched from the defensive line to offensive line last season.
He insists the bad-boy image is long gone.
“I’ve grown a lot as an individual. I was definitely immature. I was not independent. I feel I’ve grown up as a man the last few years,” Long said. “I’ve taken responsibility for some of the things I’ve done. It was the worst thing and the best thing I’ve done. I’ve been through hardship and fought my way back. … I’m proud of the progress I’ve made and don’t plan on stopping making progress anytime soon.”
All he has to do now is convince team officials he’s changed.
Fluker, an early entry candidate, has been rising quickly on draft boards and could continue to move up if he slims down. At the Senior Bowl, he was measured at 355 pounds. And similar to his Alabama teammate Chance Warmack, he could wind up being a first-round pick in two months.
What does it all mean?
That’s there’s a lot of homework for NFL teams over the next two months to make sure they find the right linemen this year.
“I think I have a lot of room to improve. I definitely don’t think I’ve played my best football,” Fisher said. “My goal here is to prove to everybody that I am the No. 1 tackle in the nation. It’s been my goal for a long time.”