Former Rutgers linebacker Steve Longa performed Sunday in the NFL combine with 38 other prospective draft prospects at his position. Longa ran a 40 yard dash time of 4.78 seconds which placed him tied for 21st out of 31 linebackers that ran. He performed better with the 225 pound bench press, as he completed 19 reps, tying him for 10th place out of 28 linebackers that participated. He finished in the middle of the pack with his vertical jump of 32 inches, tying him for 14th place. He tied for 15th place in the broad jump, which he registered a distance of 9 feet 8 inches. While it's a positive that Longa was just one of 14 out of 39 linebackers that completed every drill at the combine, he didn't rank in the top 10 of any of them. For the full results of every drill for the linebackers, click here.
It was a bit of surprise in December when Longa declared he was forgoing his senior year and entering the NFL draft a year early. Longa did have three consecutive seasons of 100+ tackles in his Rutgers career and had the ability to fly all over the field at times. However, he did struggle in pass coverage and after requesting a pre-draft evaluation from the committee, it was recommended he not leave school early. Leonte Carroo had the same result of his pre-draft evaluation last year and returned to school for his senior season. Longa decided to enter the NFL draft anyway.
#Rutgers LB Steve Longa received a "go back to school" grade, but felt ready to play in the NFL, left school early.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 27, 2016
He has been training with Parabolic Performance & Rehab in Farmingdale, New Jersey leading up to the combine. A full crew from the training facility was with Longa in Indianapolis, Indiana this weekend for support. You can view a slideshow of Longa preparing for the combine drills here.
Longa has been joined at Parabolic with former Rutgers teammates Quentin Gause, Paul James, Keith Lumpkin, Sam Bergen, and Savon Huggins. They are all preparing for Rutgers Pro Day in early March, in hopes of scouts taking notice and gaining consideration for the NFL Draft. If they are not drafted, they could all be considered for invites to mini-camps or signed as free agents. Longa has put in a lot of work in his preparation for the combine and draft. No word yet on if he will participate in the Pro Day at Rutgers.
Steve Longa added 15 pounds to his frame from the end of the season. That's a significant gain for him + potentially a huge boost.— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) February 26, 2016
Longa had indicated he had informal meetings with almost every NFL team, so hopefully he impressed during the interview process. Here is what a NFC Scouting Director told NFL.com about Longa before the combine:
"I don't think he's going to test all that well at the combine and his size will work against him, but I love his toughness and production. He's a backup with some special teams ability, but it wouldn't shock me if he ended up working his way into a starter's role at some point." -- NFC director of scouting
We wish him well during the draft process and hope that he is selected to a team that is a good situation for him. We will continue to track Longa as he chases his NFL dreams.
To read about how Leonte Carroo performed at the NFL combine, click here.