- The Washington Times - Friday, February 24, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS — His first name is derived from the Richard Chamberlain character in “The Thorn Birds.”

But that’s where the similarities between D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Father Ralph de Bricassart begin and end.

Ferguson’s father, Edwin Sr., was enamored with the movie and when his wife, Rhunette, delivered a son eight months later in December 1983, they messed with de Bricassart and came up with D’Brickashaw.

“It’s a pretty good movie,” D’Brickashaw said. “I had to see it because I wanted to find out where my name came from.”

Ferguson, a four-year starter at left tackle for Virginia, will hear his name called early in the first round of the NFL Draft on April 29.

A year after bypassing the draft to return for his senior season with the Cavaliers, Ferguson was at the Indiana Convention Center yesterday, going through physical exams at the NFL Scouting Combine. He checked in at 6-foot-6, 312 pounds. Ferguson will not work out until Virginia’s Pro Day on March 21.

There were concerns around the league whether Ferguson could add weight while keeping the same mobility. He was listed at 295 pounds before the season and weighed 298 at the Senior Bowl last month.

“Some were wondering if he could get above 300 pounds so this probably solidified him right at the top,” said Phil Savage, general manager of the Cleveland Browns.

Ferguson is ranked by most draft services behind the trio of Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and Vince Young. If Houston trades out of the top spot, it might take Ferguson. If Tennessee opts against taking a quarterback at No. 3, Ferguson could be Steve McNair’s blind-side protector. And if the New York Jets settle their quarterback spot — with Patrick Ramsey, perhaps? — they could select the Long Island-reared Ferguson with the fourth pick.

He would have been a top 10 selection had he declared for the draft last season, as well.

“I wasn’t very close at all [to leaving Virginia],” he said. “I really wanted to stay and finish my degree and continued to be coached by that staff.”

Ferguson has earned his degree in religious studies. On the field, he became the first Virginia offensive lineman to start at least 50 games with 51.

Less than three years ago, Ferguson had his weight stuck between 250 and 260 pounds. He was athletic enough to hold his own against the ACC’s top defensive players, but to become a dominant player, Ferguson knew he had to add weight.

He changed his diet and workout routine and gained 35 pounds, starting his junior year at 295. He had the first of two consecutive All-ACC campaigns.

“I was able to change my diet and eating habits and I just paid more attention to the things I was consuming,” he said. “I was 250-ish, 260-ish and when I was that weight, I didn’t have the opportunity to exert myself on other defenders like I could at 290-plus pounds. I felt I would have an advantage with that additional weight.”

Where Ferguson excelled was in pass protection. The Cavaliers allowed only 19 sacks in 12 games last season.

Since 2000, four tackles have been chosen in the draft’s first five picks, including the Redskins’ Chris Samuels (No. 3) six years ago. Only four Cavaliers have been selected in the top 10 since 1982. Guard Jim Dombrowski is the highest selection — No. 6 to New Orleans in 1986.

Savage said Ferguson differs from other high-profile tackles.

“Quite frankly, D’Brickashaw is different than Orlando Pace, Jonathan Ogden and Tony Boselli — those guys were more dominating-style players,” Savage said. “I don’t think that’s D’Brickashaw’s style. But he’s going to be a very good left tackle.

“He might be dominating in pass protection but he has some room to improve in the run blocking area.”

Ferguson admits that he needs fine-tuning.

“When I analyze my game, I see flaws in many different areas,” he said. “I constantly want to improve on my fundamentals, whether it be in pass blocking or run blocking, whether it be against a bull rush or inside moves. My overall game could definitely use improvement.”

Engaging at the podium yesterday, Ferguson takes on a different persona during the game.

“I’m a beast,” he said. “I see myself as a bodyguard. I’m personally responsible for the health and welfare of my quarterback, and I’ll do anything in my means to protect them.”

Ferguson will work out for NFL teams on March 21. But that will be more of a confirmation for teams than an initial evaluation. Savage joked that “if D’Brickashaw is there when we pick on No.12, we will be putting his name on the card.”

Ferguson will be long gone by then and is expected to start right away.

“The anticipation is definitely high,” he said. “I can’t wait for the opportunity when a team does call my name. I’ll be very happy that day.”

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