There is a big battle in the 2009 NFL Draft to be the No. 1 tackle, and it would be hard to count Mississippi senior Michael Oher out of the mix. He has an elite set of physical tools with his rare quickness, athleticism and strength. He was the subject of the bestselling book The Blind Side by Michael Lewis.
Oher's lifestory is an amazing path, as he has risen from a troubled childhood and poor education to overcoming it all. Now, he leaves Ole Miss with a Cotton Bowl win and has the potential to be a top-10 draft pick this April.
Michael was nice enough to give me an interview at Media Night during Senior Bowl week.
Matt McGuire: At the combine, coaches and GMs might ask you if you have trouble taking in and retaining information. In The Blind Side, it was noted you had intelligence issues, but it seems you have overcame that. How are you going to respond to those questions?
Michael Oher: I have always been a smart guy. People can't believe what they read and the things they hear. You gotta come to me, talk to me, and find out what type of person I am. I have always been a smart guy.
McGuire: Every week you would look at your game film with your offensive line coach and review your play. If you could put a blocking grade on yourself for the season, what would it be?
Oher: I think I would probably give myself overall a 96 grade.
McGuire: You went to a program with a lot of tradition, but was not competitive. In your first three seasons in Ole Miss you went 10-25. As a senior, you went 8-4, didn't lose a game by more than 7 points, and shocked the world with a Cotton Bowl win over No. 7 Texas Tech. What is it like to go to a program in Oxford and be a cornerstone for turning that around?
Oher: It feels good to know you left a program and turned everything around. Being a part of something special. It always feels good.
McGuire: Give us a prediction. How many times are you going to bench 225 at the Combine? 40 time?
Oher: I am aiming for 30 reps of 225, and I am not going to tell you my 40. It's a secret.
McGuire: So you are going to shock us?
Oher: I am going to shock you.
McGuire: Who is the best defensive linemen you battled in your career?
Oher: Probably, Derrick Harvey. He was the eighth-overall selection. He was a fast, strong, physical defensive end. He had all the tools.
McGuire: Play NFL Scout for a second. Give me a young up-and-comer in the Ole Miss program you think will be a star in one or two years?
Oher: Offensive guard named Rishaw Johnson (6'4, 295). He is probably one of the most talented kids I have ever been around. Quick, explosive, and has all the tools. Once he really turns it on, it's over for the SEC. They better watch out for him.
McGuire: Which offensive lineman do you feel like you compare most to in the NFL? Why?
Oher: I'd probably say Walter Jones. He's athletic, quick, and he has all the tools.
McGuire: Let's say you are in a Combine interview and a coach asks, ?Why should we draft you?? What are you going to say?
Oher: I'm a fierce competitor. I love winning. I love the game of football, and I would do anything for my teammates. I have the total package. I am a great football player.
McGuire: Hypothetical situation. You can choose between playing an amazing game in front of the scouts and losing by 40 points, or playing a terrible game in front of the scouts and win by 40. Which one would you choose?
Oher: I'm a winner. To win a game, that comes first. It's all about the team, and my teammates have a great game and we are going to enjoy that as a team.
McGuire: What are your goals in the NFL?
Oher: To become a starter and become one of the great players. Maybe make a couple Pro Bowls.
McGuire: Thanks a lot Mike, good luck this week in Mobile and on Draft Day.