Whatever numbers Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook posts this weekend at the NFL Combine, perhaps his biggest hurdle will be the league’s interview process.
Pulling out of the Senior Bowl created some disappointment among league teams and in December, Tulsa World brought to light two family-violence complaints that Westbrook was arrested for in 2012 and 2013.
Reports show he was never convicted and in one case no charges were brought.
When teams dig deeper, that will be the test, and he’s got to have some answers to these questions.
CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler
Never miss a local story.
But NFL coaches, general managers and investigators are under public pressure to pursue complete information on potential pre-existing legal trouble for players the league brings in and will most certainly attempt to get to the bottom of it.
“The interview process will be paramount for him,” CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler said. “He’s had a couple of run-ins, and so far, it’s nothing that would take him off the board.
“But when teams dig deeper, that will be the test, and he’s got to have some answers to these questions.”
The wide receivers report to the combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday. Interviews will be held the first three days, with the on-field workouts Saturday.
What Westbrook doesn’t have to answer to is the production on the field.
He was a dynamic playmaker last season, catching 80 passes for 1,524 yards, 17 touchdowns and an average of 19.1 yards per catch.
That effort made him one of five finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
Still, while at APEC Fort Worth last week to sharpen up for his combine workout, Westbrook said there’s a number of on-field things that he can get better at in increasing his draft stock.
“I think you can always get better in your route running,” he said. “That’s why you come to a place like this, to get your footwork right, your agility and my lateral movement.
“All of those things help you get into your releases better and then the route concepts. I think one of the big things though is creating better separation. If you can do that, once the football is there, it’s about doing what I do after I catch the ball.”
Brugler said a player such as Westbrook, though, has a set of expectations from scouts coming into the combine.
“This is a player we haven’t seen since the season ended,” Brugler said. “The expectation is that he’ll run a 40 around 4.38 to 4.44 range and then with his yards-per-catch average, you know he’s a vertical threat, but what’s he going to weigh, has he improved on his ability to change directions?”
Westbrook said the biggest adjustments he’s made is recognizing the difference in amateur football versus what’s expected in a professional setting.
“I think in college, they just ask you to work on things as it pertains to an upcoming season,” Westbrook said. “But now, it’s very specific and you’ve got little building blocks here that get your ready for the combine.
“But at the same time, after all of this, it’s time for football.”
2017 NFL Draft
The NFL Draft will be April 27-29 in Philadelphia. The first round is April 27, second and third rounds April 28, and fourth through seventh April 29. Here’s the first-round order:
2. San Francisco
5. Tennessee (from L.A. Rams)
6. New York Jets
7. San Diego Chargers
11. New Orleans
12. Cleveland (from Philadelphia)
15.* Philadelphia (from Minnesota)
19. Tampa Bay
23. New York Giants
27. Kansas City
28. Dallas Cowboys
29. Green Bay Packers
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
31. Atlanta Falcons
32. New England Patriots
*14th and 15th positions will be determined by a coin flip.