Michigan's David Molk responds to issues hurting his NFL stock: Size, injury history
David Molk won the Rimington Trophy last season as the nation's best college center. It's clear he's not considered such by NFL scouts.
Once ranked the No. 2 pro center prospect by ESPN, the former Michigan football star has fallen to No. 5. He's No. 6 at the position according to CBS.
Molk even is slotted behind Wisconsin's Peter Konz and Ohio State's Mike Brewster, both of whom he beat out for Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors last season.
Molk said shortly after Michigan's season ended that he was hearing he'd be an early-round pick. However, NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock said last week he doesn't expect him to be taken until the middle-to-late rounds.
Clearly, his stock is slipping.
That means Molk has something to prove this week at the NFL Combine -- only, after having surgery Jan. 13 to repair a ruptured tendon in his right foot, he will be limited to just the bench press. No running.
"You can see speed on film -- and I do have a lot of film, which will help me -- but putting numbers on paper is what the combine is all about and, frankly, that’s what a lot of scouts and GMs will use to make their decisions," Molk said during a recent interview. "I just wish I had those on paper for them."
Molk arrives in Indianapolis on Wednesday and begins with media interviews, psychological testing and team interviews Thursday. He'll be joined later in the week by former teammates Mike Martin and Junior Hemingway.
Each has something to prove. The difference between Molk and the others, however, is he won't have a full complement of combine drills to swing things in his favor.
"It sucks I can’t prove what I have," he said. "I’ve watched what the combine numbers come in at. I’ve seen it every year, and I can beat every single guy. I feel as if I could have gone into the combine and set a record in every single event, and that kills me."
Instead, Molk is relegated to team interviews and mental tests to answer the two biggest issues that are impacting his stock: His size and injury history.
Concern high regarding size
Mayock said his chief concern regarding Molk is how he will match up against bigger defensive linemen. He cited a particularly poor performance last season against Michigan State's Jerel Worthy, who stands 6-foot-3, 310 pounds.
Molk is listed by Michigan as 6-foot-2, 286 pounds. That's smaller than three-quarters of the NFL's centers. However, zone-blocking clubs such as the Green Bay Packers or Atlanta Falcons have employed small centers in recent years and could be interested.
"He’s a little bit of a grabber instead of a puncher and very much a finesse guy," Mayock said. "I think what you’re going to see is one of those zone teams, they like that kind of player."
Size concerns are nothing new to Molk, who faced them coming out of Lemont Township (Ill.) High School and again at Michigan. Yet, his size never seemed to bother him en route to becoming a four-year starter and one of the greatest centers in school history.
"I’m not worried about it," he said. "Let me put it this way: I’ve never had an issue with the length of my arms playing a football game. There hasn’t been a single person I’ve played against where I’ve reached to grab him, and he has kept me away because his arms are so long and mine are so short."
Injuries to right leg mounting
Molk also will have to answer questions about his injury, and growing injury history.
The ruptured tendon will cost him a shot to run at the combine, and his status for the Wolverines' pro day March 15 is uncertain. He said he hopes to be at full speed in time for organized team activities (OTAs) with his new team.
More concerning, though, is the fact the tendon tear is not an isolated injury. Molk now has suffered four injuries to his right leg since breaking his foot in a 2009 game.
He returned to the lineup five weeks later, only to tear his ACL after four plays. He missed the rest of the season.
After working his way back to health for the 2010 season, a piece of bone chipped off in his right foot during preseason workouts. He played that season with the bone floating in his foot, then had a January surgery to remove it.
He never made that injury public.
Finally, after a healthy 2011 regular season, Molk suffered the ruptured tendon in pregame warmups for the Sugar Bowl.
Molk said he expects to face questions about his injury history during team interviews at the combine, and is ready for them. He'll also have the surgeon who performed his latest procedure, Dr. David Porter, in Indianapolis to lend support.
Asked if he thinks he's injury prone, Molk said, simply, "No, I'm not. I had one season (messed) up because of injury. Other than that, how many games did I miss? None."
For now, Molk is focusing on the one drill he can compete in: Bench press.
He's shooting to break the record of 49 reps (225 pounds) set last year by Oregon State's Stephen Paea. If he comes anywhere close to 50 -- and his trainer, Mike Barwis, says he has a shot at it -- it'd be a big step toward proving his mettle.
The top center at last year's combine, Syracuse's Ryan Bartholomew, posted 34 reps.
Molk appears primed to blow that away.
Will it be enough to climb back into the early rounds?
Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.
Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.
It's amazing at how much damage could occur from losing 3 or 4 senior contributors, but Molk, Martin and VanBergen were all something spectacular. Would not be surprised to see all 3 in the NFL for quite some time.....
Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.
CAN YOU THINK OF TOM BRADY IN THE 6th ROUND. SOUNDS THE SAME TO ME
Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.
+1 ... some team is going to get a Cracker Jack prize if they draft Molk at a lower round. Ditto Kellen Moore out of Boise State. Yeah, too small ... blah, blah ... the kid has intangibles through the roof.
Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.
"Mayock said his chief concern regarding Molk is how he will match up against bigger defensive linemen. He cited a particularly poor performance last season against Michigan State's Jerel Worthy, who stands 6-foot-3, 310 pounds." Maycock is right about one thing...the Spartans ran all over the Michigan O-Line! He's DEAD WRONG about another...no way in Hades is Jerel Worthy 6'3" tall. With 9 starters on defense returning from the win vs. UGA; look for the Sparty D to run all over the Wolverine "O" again in 2012. It's not going to be pretty!
Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.
Mid level programs? MSU has back-to-back 11 win seasons...last time UM has done so? NEVER! MSU's 24-8 is a Big 10 best record over the past 4 seasons. MSU's 14-2 is a Big 10 best over the past 4 seasons. MSU has won 4 straight vs. the Walverines...and the 2011 game WAS NOT CLOSE! MSU lost to Nebraska and ND on the road. Noboby really cares about the ND loss as it had no impact on the BIG title chase. MSU has won 10 of its last 15 vs. ND; including a record-breaking run of 6 straight in South Bend from 1997 to 2007. That game was a MUST WIN for 0-2 ND on their home field. Good teams usually win at home when there backs are against the wall. Nobody at ND was looking to go 0-3. Ditto for Nebraska. Had they lost that day the fall to 3 losses in BIG play and are out of the race )in a division that they expected to win) before November 1st. Wasn't going to happen. Even with the loss at Nebraska, MSU had a league best 7-1 record that got them to Indianapolis where MSU once again outplayed the BADgers...but it is tough to beat a great team twice in one season. Congrats to UW for their hard fought 42-39 win that night. At MSU we care about 3 things...beating Michigan (4 straight), winning the Legends Division (accomplished) and winning the BIG 10 championship (accomplished in 2010). Michigan's last Big 10 football championship was when.....??? Nobody at MSU could care less about a game vs. Virginia Tech in the FIRST EVER BCS appearance by an ACC runner-up. The ACC is now 2-13 in BCS games. That marginal VT team held Denard and Co. to 184 yards of total offense after getting absolutely torched twice by Clemson. Win a game vs. MSU...then talk.
Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.
We beat Ohio, and as UM fans that is far more important than beating a second rate, wannabe rival in MSU. Iowa beat us, too. I don't see them on this site stirring the pot, though. That's because, unlike Sparty, Iowa knows UM's focus is on B10 championships, beating ohio, and winning BCS bowl games. Two out of three in coach Hoke's first season isn't bad at all. And, now that UM will be in year two with this great staff, mid-level programs like Iowa, MSU, etc won't stand up against the Wolverines...just like pre-RR all over again. By the way...how did Sparty stack up against ND and Nebraska? I'll give you this...when you guys lose...you lose big.
Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.
It's funny how history is rewritten to omit blemishes that otherwise would disrupt beliefs for the future. 1) As I recall, Michigan's offense was severely unprepared for the dirty play of the Michigan State defense. Their SIX!!! personal fouls clearly affected Denard Robinson's decision making in particular. Certainly, this lack of mental preparation will not exist in years to come. Michigan will know what to expect next year. 2) This was everybody's first year in a new offensive and defensive system. The rate of improvement from last year on the offensive side of the ball will necessarily be far greater than that of the Spartan defense. 3) During the Michigan State game, Denard Robinson had a Staph infection and an abscess in his right elbow (throwing arm). 4) Michigan State was at home last year against Michigan which is a huge advantage (Michigan went undefeated at home last year). So when you consider all of the factors that hurt Denard Robinson, and Michigan's offense by extension, you can see that many of the problems were actually lurking variables that likely will be resolved in 2012. Of course, you can continue to ignore these because it doesn't suite your world view and, of course, remain ignorant.
Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.
You guys will lucky to get by Boise State in your opener. Good thing BS's QB Kellen Moore is gone. They blew out Georgia at a game in Georgia while you barely beat them at a far more neutral site. I think they still kick the green can all over the place. Go Blue. Go Orange and Blue.