By Brant Wilkerson-New firstname.lastname@example.org, Apr 2, 2018
There are a few lessons in life that a man must only learn one time, and unfortunately for Brandon Parker, he learned one of them before the biggest job interview of his life back in February at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Parker, N.C. A&T’s former All-American left tackle, decided to grab some fast food and wound up being forced to sit out the bench press.
“I had some Chipotle and it didn’t sit well,” Parker said, laughing.
His second run at impressing NFL scouts easily got off to a better start on Monday morning when he walked into A&T’s weight room sporting his familiar smile and managed 21 repetitions on the bench press, surpassing the 20-rep standard for linemen in combine-style testing.
“It feels good,” Parker said. “The Combine went pretty good – I’d like it to have gone a little better.”
Among the other Aggies participating in drills were Khris Gardin, Trey Scott, Jeremy Taylor and Marcus Albert — the most athletic of the bunch — but Parker was the main draw for representatives from 17 different NFL franchises, including Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie.
At 6-7, 300 pounds, Parker has the size to be a prototypical tackle at the next level, and his production at A&T matched up, with three straight first-team All-MEAC and offensive line selections in blazing a trail for one of the best rushing offenses in FCS.
Not bad a for a guy who had exactly one scholarship offer coming out of A.L. Brown High School, where he split time between basketball and football.
It was surreal to find himself as the man of the hour, several years after redshirting to put on weight during his first season at A&T.
“Especially out of high school, you didn’t get any accolades or even an all-conference (pick), so going from that to front and center, it’s little different,” he said. “Basketball I really liked, but football is a love so I knew, I put a lot of time into in camps and endless hours in the yard with my dad perfecting my craft, so I really wanted to pursue it because I loved it.”
That time on the basketball court appeared to serve him well, as New England Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia put Parker through several drills testing his flexibility and agility, including turning at the hips while backpedaling for 30 yards.
After putting up the third-best broad jump of 9 feet, 5 inches at the Combine, Parker felt good about what he was able to show scouts in the 40-yard dash, where tackles are instead graded on a 10-yard split, with the average at about 1.8 seconds.
“That was a glaring thing,” he said. “I’m definitely faster than 1.8 … I showed that explosion with the broad jump, but still wanted to see a better 10-split.”
In all, Parker walked off the field to join 20 family members pleased with his workout, but knowing there’s plenty more left to do master over the next few weeks to hear his name called during the NFL Draft.
He’s heard he’ll be drafted anywhere between the third and fifth round, but things can change in an instant when the picks start coming in.
“Little technical stuff from my pass set, like getting off my toes, stepping more on my instep and playing with lower pad level because people are naturally going to have more leverage and also a lot of right-side stuff, because they swing you at the next level,” he said. “The difference between being good and being great is perfecting the little things because everybody does the same things good, but it doesn’t become great until you perfect those little things.”
And the first step toward that was perfecting the meal before the workout, where Chipotle is no longer among the options.
“Oh – no, no,” he said, shaking his head and smiling.