Alameda Ta'amu gets chance to prove he is still a first-rounder at NFL scouting combine
Ta'amu, one of four Huskies in Indianapolis for this week's NFL scouting combine, had a disappointing senior season but gets his shot to impress scouts.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Huskies at the NFL combineFour Huskies are headed to Indianapolis this week, invited to participate in the NFL scouting combine. Washington has not had more than two players chosen in the same draft since 2004, when four Huskies were selected: WR Reggie Williams, DT Tank Johnson, LB Marquis Cooper and QB Cody Pickett.
OL Senio Kalamete
He's a two-year captain for Washington, who started at left tackle the past two years. Many project him as a guard in the NFL though some still think he might have the foot quickness necessary to play the more valuable position of tackle.
RB Chris Polk
Polk got so-so reviews from his week in Mobile, Ala., preparing for the Senior Bowl. That makes his combine workout much more important. Alabama's Trent Richardson is regarded as the top running-back prospect, and after that, things are wide open.
DT Alameda Ta'amu
He was regarded as a potential first-round pick before the season began. Afterward, there was some thought he might not get chosen until the latter half of the draft. He will try to build on the momentum he generated during a good week of practice for the Senior Bowl.
WR Jermaine Kearse
He finished his Washington career ranked fourth in career receiving yards with 2,172 and second with 22 career touchdown catches. Was not at the Senior Bowl, which makes this an important audition for Kearse.
It's too soon to call it a comeback.
After all, Alameda Ta'amu has yet to arrive in the NFL. But after a senior season that fell well short of exceptional, the defensive tackle from Washington has spent the first couple of months of this new year trying to rebuild his draft stock.
First, came an impressive week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last month. Now, Ta'amu arrives in Indianapolis for the league's annual scouting combine that takes place this week for what isn't so much a first impression as one of the last chances for Ta'amu to bolster his draft position.
"I would say he should be drafted in the third or fourth round," said Rob Rang, analyst for NFLDraftScout.com. "He has a chance to go in the second just because there's so few of the wide-bodied, nose-guard types."
Not a bad forecast, but not nearly as good as some expected six months ago when the 6-foot-3, 337-pound Ta'amu was considered by many a potential first-round draft pick. After an uneven senior season, he's trying to reclaim some of that buzz one workout at a time, and the scouting combine will be the most prominent of these auditions.
It has been called the NFL's underwear Olympics and its spandex Super Bowl. For four days, more than 300 invited college players pass through Indianapolis to perform feats of speed and strength and answer a whole bunch of questions from the 32 teams that count as potential employers.
It's as close as the NFL comes to staging a job fair, and Ta'amu is one of four Huskies who've been invited this year. For Ta'amu, this is just the next opportunity to rebuild his résumé.
There might not be more than three types of sports stories: the rise, the fall and then — sometimes — the redemption. It's possible Ta'amu could experience all three in less than a year and a half.
He entered his senior season characterized as a potential first-round pick after showing steady improvement over the course of his junior season. His standout performance against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl in December 2010 was supposed to set the table the following year.
"There was a lot of expectation that he might have a monster senior season," Rang said.
It didn't turn out that way. Ta'amu started all 13 games, didn't have more than five tackles in any of them and was an honorable mention Pac-12 selection.
Ta'amu appeared a little heavier, and at times, he looked a little slower. By December, some thought he might not be chosen until the second half of the seven-round draft.
But here's the thing about reputations in the NFL: They may not always be fair, but they're not written in permanent ink, either.
Last month at the Senior Bowl, Ta'amu played more consistently.
Now comes the combine, and while it can be an important part of the predraft appraisal, it is just a part.
The combine won't overwrite a four-year college career as scouting reports don't get rewritten so much as augmented and Ta'amu has the kind of size that makes teams think long and hard and imagine what could be if he's able to play as consistently as he did last month in preparing for the college all-star game in Alabama.
Ta'amu probably isn't going to be part of the first wave of defensive linemen who get chosen, guys like Michael Brockers of LSU, Devon Still of Penn State and perhaps Dontari Poe of Memphis, who at 345 pounds is one of the only players in this draft bigger than Ta'amu.
Ta'amu's challenge this week is to show NFL teams that he's still capable of having that big season that so many expected.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @dannyoneil.Coming Friday
Danny O'Neil reports from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis with a look at the quarterback prospects. The Seahawks have not picked a QB in the draft's first round since 1993.