Ali Marpet

Tiny Hobart College in the Finger Lakes region of New York State has just introduced itself to the NFL.   When Tampa Bay took offensive tackle Ali Marpet in the second round at  #61 overall, Marpet became the highest Division III draft choice ever.  He’s the first Division III player to be drafted since 2012 and the first offensive lineman since 1996.  He’s set to become the first NFL player from Hobart in 78 years.

Nineteen offensive linemen went in this past weekend’s draft after Ali Marpet.

Few had put much stock in the 6’4″, 307-pounder’s share of the Liberty League’s offensive player of the year award, though it was a first for a lineman.  Leading Hobart to three straight undefeated regular seasons didn’t move folks either.  What ultimately did make a lasting impression on scouts was Marpet’s performances in the Senior Bowl, at the NFL Scouting Combine and at his own pro day.

Senior Bowl
Marpet was the first Division III participant ever in the long-running Senior Bowl, played this year on January 24th in Mobile, Alabama.  Even though he played guard instead of his usual tackle, Marpet felt he held his own against SEC and other D-I talent; observers unanimously agreed.  Senior Bowl director Phil Savage, twice a general manager in the NFL, commented, “He has light feet, plays with balance, and did not back down at all against the bigger-school competition.”

NFL Scouting Combine
There were more than 300 invitees to the combine, and again Marpet was the only one from Division III.  He bench-pressed 225 pounds 30 times; only four of 40 offensive linemen did better.  His 4.98 seconds in the 40 was the fastest time for offensive linemen.  For good measure Marpet  came in second in both the three-cone drill and the shuttle run.  Putting it all together, Marpet wound up with the highest SPARQ score for all OL at the combine.  SPARQ is a comprehensive measure of speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness.  His Wonderlic (intelligence) score of 30 was well above the average of 20.

His Pro Day
At least 10 NFL teams sent representatives to Marpet’s pro day.  Hobart coach Mike Cragg summarized how it went:  “We knew that he would blow it out of the water today.  He went out there and did just that.”  The NFL-ers tested his “coachability” and were quite pleased.

Marpet’s versatility could serve him well.  He played left tackle in college but is projected to be a guard or possibly a  center at Tampa Bay.

So the Stateman has become a Buccaneer.  The man who has never played football in front of a crowd of even 2,000 moves onto the game’s biggest stage.

Marpet won’t be having pancakes on Sundays like he did on Saturdays.  The adjustment won’t be an easy one.  Still, he has the wherewithal to become a starter in the National Football League.  Wouldn’t it be something to see him in a Pro Bowl one day?

The smart money says he’s got a shot.  And that’s all he ever asked.

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