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Weisman likely to take undrafted route to NFL

BY CHARLIE GREEN | APRIL 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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Only two fullbacks worked out at the NFL Combine in February in Indianapolis.

Former Iowa workhorse Mark Weisman was not one of them.

Despite being one of the most productive rushers in school history, fullback figures to best fit his size and skillset as he prepares for a career in the pros.

“Built like a fullback, he rarely wins with make-you-miss quickness,” nfldraftscout.com’s Dane Brugler wrote. “But he does have the balance, power, and no-nonsense run style that allows him to rack up positive yardage.”

It’s a position that may not be quite as glamorous but most certainly epitomizes the gritty approach Weisman brings to the game.

“Obviously, fullback’s kind of like the offensive line,” Weisman said. “You don’t get too much attention out there, but they do the dirty work.”

Listed at 5-11, 242 pounds (he looked larger than 242 pounds last week during a media session), he transferred from Air Force and rushed for 2,602 yards during his three years in Iowa’s backfield, amassing 32 touchdowns (with half of them coming in 2014).

But as a fullback, his road to the NFL isn’t likely going to come via the draft. In 2014, only three fullbacks were taken — the first being Auburn’s Jay Prosch in the sixth round (211 overall).

CBS Sports ranks him as the sixth-best prospect at the position, and if NFL front offices agree with that assessment on their draft boards, the Buffalo Grove, Illinois, native will have to live without his name being called in Chicago.

But make no mistake — he will get his chance in professional football.

At Iowa’s pro day on March 23, Weisman ran the 40-yard dash in 4.69 seconds, a faster time than his fullback peers Michael Burton (Rutgers) and Jalston Fowler (Alabama) posted at the combine.

“I don’t know how much I was on anyone’s radar; a lot more teams have obviously talked to me since then,” Weisman said.

Although he didn’t participate in the bench press, it appeared he had added 10 to 15 pounds of muscle as well — a sign that he hasn’t quit training since the 2014 season ended.

If and when a team does take a chance on Weisman, the 23-year-old’s exact role on the roster will remain unclear.

But what is clear is that depth rules in the NFL. Teams with quality backups enjoy stellar special teams units that can dictate field position and can also survive injuries to key starters. What figures to stand as Weisman’s best chance at making a 53-man roster is whether a coaching staff thinks he can make an immediate impact in the kicking game.

His power running style still has a valuable place in today’s pass-happy game. If Weisman’s short-yardage ability transfers to the next level, there’s not a team in the NFL that doesn’t like to have that option deep in the red zone.

If not as a situational runner, he has the body-type and strength to develop into an effective lead blocker — something he was not accustomed to in his college days.

While at Iowa, Weisman proved to be a bruiser, willing and capable of dishing out physical punishment, and that style won’t go unnoticed by pro scouts.

But in the nature of today’s game, teams just are not likely to invest a draft pick on his prototype. That being said, he has the potential to be one of the hidden gems of the NFL’s undrafted class of 2015.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Wesiman said. “Whether I get drafted, or whether it’s a free agent or whatnot, I just want an opportunity to compete.”


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