Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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Livin' the dream

Greg Salas and Alex Green appear to be shoo-ins to be taken in the NFL Draft

By Stephen Tsai


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas for former Hawaii receiver Greg Salas.

"I'm excited and a little nervous," said Salas, who is expected to be selected in this week's three-day NFL Draft. "I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas."

Back then, Salas conceded, "I wanted X-Men action figures and, for a little while, I wanted Pokemon cards. If you got me X-Men action figures, you were doing a good job."

And now? "It's a big dream to play in the NFL," Salas said. "It looks like it might come true. It's crazy."

Salas and running back Alex Green are considered to be the former Warriors with the best chances of being drafted. Some analysts predict those two players' names could be announced as early as Friday, when the second and third rounds are conducted. The final four rounds are Saturday.

Almost every NFL team has expressed interest in Salas. Because of his clean abstract — no significant injuries, no character questions — and his participation in the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, Salas was not brought in for any interviews with teams following UH's pro day March 31 in Carson, Calif.

"Nobody wants to tip their hand," agent Kenny Zuckerman said. "I've been told a lot of teams like him."

Green's schedule, meanwhile, has been busy since drawing praise at the combine. Green, who is 6 feet and about 225 pounds, is credited with running the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds. That was the ninth-fastest time among 33 running backs who ran the 40 at the combine, and third best for a back weighing more than 215 pounds.

Because Green played in UH's one-back offense that does not feature a tight end, eight teams requested face-to-face meetings the past three weeks.

Green visited the Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. He had to turn down two other invitations because of scheduling conflicts. Teams had until this past Wednesday to conduct in-person interviews with prospects.

The Rams' interest is not surprising. Green has drawn comparisons to Steven Jackson, the Rams' 6-foot-2, 236-pound running back. A few NFL teams credited Green with running 40 yards in 4.45 seconds, matching Jackson's 40 time.

"Alex is a big back with speed," agent Michael Hoffman said. "Those types of backs you can't really find."

A third former Warrior — slotback Kealoha Pilares — also was invited to the combine. Because he was recovering from a partially torn PCL injured in the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl, Pilares went through interviews and bench pressed 225 pounds 19 times at the combine. He did not participate in the running or jumping events.

But at UH's pro day, Pilares was credited with a 40-yard time of 4.42 seconds and a vertical jump of 401/2 inches. Earlier this month, NFL doctors in Indianapolis declared him physically fit.

"They were surprised how much I progressed, how fast I came back," Pilares said.

Pilares said he received interest from 20 NFL teams. The Miami Dolphins are considering Pilares as a running back, a position he played during his freshman and sophomore years at UH.

The NFL has reached out to former UH safety Mana Silva, wideout Rodney Bradley, offensive lineman Laupepa Letuli and defensive end Kamalu Umu.

Silva had face-to-face meetings with the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars. Bradley worked out for the Dallas Cowboys, and has had telephone interviews with nine other teams. Letuli has drawn interest from the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Raiders and Titans have contacted Umu.

In past years, former Warriors have found their way onto NFL rosters through free agency. Two of Zuckerman's clients — receiver Davone Bess of the Dolphins and offensive lineman John Estes of the Jaguars — are former Warriors who signed as undrafted free agents.

Because of the NFL lockout, teams are not allowed to sign free agents until a collective-bargaining agreement is reached. In an optimistic scenario, a new CBA won't be in place until this summer, eliminating organized team activities and abbreviating training camp and the preseason. Many undrafted free agents are signed for OTAs. Without those workouts, there will be fewer opportunities for this year's class of undrafted free agents.

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