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Versatility Olsen’s key

BY BRENDAN STILES | APRIL 21, 2009 7:30 AM

For someone such as Seth Olsen, playing professional football wasn’t at the forefront of his mind growing up.

But when he came to Iowa and saw fellow offensive linemen, guys he had close bonds with early in his Hawkeye career, go on to be selected in the NFL draft, Olsen knew his path wouldn’t be any different.

“After the 2006 season, after [the Alamo Bowl], I felt like if I keep on this track, if I continued to improve, I’d have a shot,” he said. “I didn’t think my ’07 season was that great as a team or individually. Going into [2008], I just put it out of my mind. To even have a chance at the next level, you need to have a strong senior season.”

Olsen had just that. Being viewed at this time last spring as one of Iowa’s key cogs going into 2008, Olsen and the rest of the offensive line helped pave the way for running back Shonn Greene to have one of the most decorated seasons in Hawkeye history, and Iowa went on to win nine games, including the 2009 Outback Bowl.

After the Hawkeyes’ season was over, Olsen began to impress scouts, first by participating in the East-West Shrine Game, then by traveling to Indianapolis in February for the NFL scouting combine. He called his experience at the combine “great.”

“The whole pace of the thing was ‘Hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait.’ You have to get somewhere, and then you had to wait in line,” he said. “Actually being out on the field was a lot of fun for me. It wasn’t nerve-wracking for me like I think it is for a lot of people.”

After the combine, Olsen had a chance during Iowa’s Pro Day to improve his numbers for scouts, and excelled. The 6-5, 306-pound lineman had 28 bench reps during the Pro Day as opposed to 23 at the combine. He also added 3.5 inches to his vertical jump, going from 24.5 to 28 inches off the ground.

He might not be selected in the first round, but the one trait Olsen possesses is versatility. At Iowa, Olsen has played both guard and tackle.

Knowing that NFL teams can only dress seven offensive linemen for a game, having showed in college he can play numerous positions on the field is something both he and Iowa offensive line coach Reese Morgan see as being beneficial for Olsen in the NFL.

“Seth has played two years at tackle and a year at guard, so he has had the opportunity to do both, and it is an advantage,” Morgan said. “He has played right side, left side, and we use that same kind of concept with our players. We want them to learn both sides. We want all of our guys to learn numerous positions, and he knows every position.

“He is a guy who can play any position in the league.”

While he said there’s always a possibility of playing anywhere along the line, Olsen has gotten the sense he is being viewed as a guard prospect.

“Guard is my primary position,” Olsen said. “That’s how I see it, and that’s how they see it.”

Like former teammates Rob Bruggeman and Andy Brodell, Olsen is being represented by agent Jack Bechta. Bechta doesn’t put much stock into mock drafts and where prognosticators have his clients going, but he was confident Olsen will be selected, most likely on the draft’s second day.

“He’s probably rated anywhere from the fifth- to 10th-best guard prospect. That normally translates to the fourth and sixth round,” Bechta said. “You just never know where there is going to a run at what position.”

Playing pro football may not have been the first career path Olsen wanted to pursue as a youngster, but no matter which of the NFL’s 32 teams he winds up with, he believes he’ll be a good fit because of his commitment.

“I think I’ll just be a complete player,” he said. “The run was so emphasized at Iowa because that’s what we did best and that’s what we did most. But we work on the pass just as much as we do on the run, so to be a successful player, I know I’ll have to be a complete player.

“I’m going to put the necessary work in to be successful.”


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