March 5, 2011

E-Camp: Potential #1 pick right at home

Bert Faibish

After four years of defending his quarterback from some of the most tenacious defenders that the state of Texas has to offer, Scott Mitchell should be used to a certain amount of pressure.

However, being the CFL’s ranked #2 on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s list of prospects comes with certain expectations.

“There is a lot of pressure because you have all the scouts talking to you, telling you that you’re the man,” said a winded Mitchell, after putting up 18 reps on the bench press.

“Now you have to come out and perform like you’re the man and meet everyone’s expectations,” he added.

The former Rice standout began the season ranked #2 by the CFL’s Scouting Bureau and maintained that status through his senior season. 

A native of Montreal, Mitchell started 38 straight games for the Owls and was named to the preseason All C-USA team before a foot injury derailed his senior season.

“You always want to do well when you’re given a chance to be evaluated by so many teams, but you have to keep it in perspective,” said Mitchell.

“Your strongest guy in the weight room and fastest guy in the 40 aren’t always your best players, so at the same time, I just need to relax and do my best,” he said.

Playing four years south of the border doesn’t mean that he’s forgotten his roots, and Mitchell is looking forward to a potential return to three-down football.

“I remember going to Alouettes games as a kid and then when we moved to Ottawa we had Renegades season tickets so the CFL and Canadian football has always been a big part of my life,” he said.

While everyone is always curious about the top performers in the bench press, the real evaluation portion of the weekend will come tomorrow, when the players take the field for individual and one-on-one drills.

“Tomorrow is where you can really make a good impression,” said Mitchell.

“It’s tough because I haven’t faced these guys or seen any tape so I don’t really know what to expect from the d-linemen,” he added.

One advantage that the 6’4 tackle does have is the experience he gained playing for a high-profile program like Rice. 

When the Owls played the University of Houston in 2008, Mitchell lined up against none other than former Blue Bomber and 2010 CFL sack leader Phillip Hunt, holding Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Year to just a single tackle.

“I feel like I’ve played against some pretty tough guys in my career at Rice, so it definitely helps my confidence,” admitted Mitchell.

“Now when I go up against some of these guys I just need to stick to my fundamentals and be ready for anything,” he said.

Since #1 prospect Phillip Blake out of Baylor is not in attendance and will likely return to school for his senior season, Mitchell stands an excellent chance of becoming this year’s top pick when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers go on the clock. 

It would be only the second time since 2004 that an offensive lineman was taken with the first pick, when Hamilton selected Simeon Rottier in 2007.

“Right now I’d just be happy to be selected at all,” said Mitchell.

“Whoever wants me the most is whose team I want to be on when training camp starts,” he said.

With the broad jump and vertical jump still to go today and a full day of drills tomorrow, Mitchell has plenty of time to convince coaches and GMs that they should believe the hype and make Mitchell the first name called on draft day.