For so many college football players, the pre-draft process is about gaining crucial exposure (especially for players who haven't had an immense amount of tape for scouts to look at), breaking possible preconceived notions, and of course, the ultimate goal for every athlete who participates in these events is to have the best showing possible.
Bengals fans may be familiar with Kyle Peko out of Oregon State, who I mentioned in my NFLPA Bowl players to watch list, as he's Domata Peko's younger cousin. But, he's looking to jump out of that shadow and make a name for himself as April approaches.
Peko is a talented player with versatility, two traits NFL teams obviously love. The issue he's facing as the NFL Draft sets off in a few short months is a lack of NCAA Division-I tape, as he transferred from community college before his senior year. He racked up 45 tackles, 4.5 for a loss last season and followed those numbers up with a solid performance at the NFLPA Bowl this weekend.
I spent a couple of minutes with him after the game to talk about the week's festivities and his plans for the months ahead. "It was a good experience, you know, gave us a lot of insight on the NFL and what could be next for a lot us," Peko said when I asked him about the week.
Obviously, as I cover the Bengals for Cincy Jungle, I had to ask him about the Domata connection. "He's always just kind of said I'm a grown man and it's my journey. He's always given advice on the don'ts. He has said 'you have to make decisions for yourself, it's up to you'. So, he's been a positive role model and he's had a great career--he's someone I look up to".
At OSU, Peko played both defensive end and defensive tackle and, like his cousin, is known as a high-motor and high-character guy. When I asked him about the positional outlook going forward, he said he sees himself as more of a nose tackle, despite the on-tape versatility he displayed in 2015.
Listen here to the audio from the post-game interview with Peko: