Testing begins today at the NFL Draft Combine, the annual spectacle of football players being scrutinized for how fast they can run 40 yards, how high and far they can jump, how many times they can bench press a certain weight, how quickly they can complete certain agility drills, etc. It makes good TV for football junkies, and while the true predictive value of these measures (as opposed to football drills and collegiate production) is up for debate, in the case of Cory Littleton these drills will be extremely important.
Littleton was not a particular standout as a recruit out of Spring Valley, CA. Rated just 2 stars by Scout.com, he claimed offers from UCLA, WSU, Nevada, San Jose State, Colorado State, UNLV, and New Mexico State at the time he committed to Washington in December of 2011, part of a touted 2012 recruiting class under Steve Sarkisian.
While fellow 2012 recruit Shaq Thompson garnered most of the attention, Littleton impressed the coaches enough to see his redshirt lifted five games into the 2012 season against Oregon, starting two games and appearing in nine. He would start all 13 games in 2013 as an undersized defensive end. With the arrival of a new coaching staff at the end of that season he saw his role adjusted a bit to be more of a traditional OLB, including backing up Hau'oli Kikaha at BUCK. He appeared in all 14 games and started four. He regained his full-time starting role at the SAM position this past season opposite Travis Feeney and had his best season, racking up 65 tackles, 11 TFL, and 6 sacks.
While Littleton does not possess prototype size for an NFL linebacker, he has bulked up a bit since finishing up his Husky career, measuring at 6'3" and 238 lbs, up 11 lbs from his listed weight at Washington. His ability to hold up at the point of attack against the run game is a significant concern for scouts, so showing that he has retained his athleticism and speed at his higher weight will be critical for his draft chances. He's currently listed as 36th among OLB prospects by CBSSports.com which puts him squarely in UFA territory, so he's a guy that needs a terrific showing this weekend in Indianapolis to raise his profile.
Littleton (and Feeney) will be working out with the linebackers on Sunday, so tune in if you can to see how they look. Here's the schedule for the combine: