Shawne Merriman grew up in Upper Marlboro, Md., went to Frederick Douglass High School and developed into a standout linebacker at the University of Maryland. Expected to be one of the top 20 picks in the April 23-24 NFL Draft, Merriman attended the local college workout at Redskins Park last Friday. The Redskins have the ninth overall pick in the first round of the draft. Merriman spoke with Redskins.com shortly after the workout:
Q: First things first: You grew up in the area and you went to the University of Maryland. Are you a Redskins fan?
A: "I'm a bandwagon fan a little bit. [Laughs.] But because I'm from the area, I love the Redskins. A lot of my friends are Redskins fans. Plus, I have some close friends who play on the team."
Q: I know you didn't participate in Friday's workout, but what were your overall impressions?
A: "I tell you, I saw some talented players out there. I'm coming from this area, but I still didn't know too much about the players coming from the small schools. I was watching the coaches and I was watching the players. I saw a lot that impressed me."
Q: You mentioned watching the coaches. What were your impressions of the coaching staff?
A: "It was a thrill. You watch them on TV a lot during games, but you don't get a chance to see them actually coach in practice and how they approach the game. To see them face-to-face and realize that you could be working and playing for these coaches in a matter of weeks, it's a big thrill."
Q: Did you meet individually with any of the scouts or coaches?
A: "I talked to everybody. I talked to Vinny Cerrato. I talked to Coach [Joe] Gibbs and all of the defensive coaches. I was real impressed with the level and style of coaching--they're very detail-oriented. And I was real impressed with how professional they all were. They showed me a lot of love and they showed me they were genuinely interested in me."
Q: You're considered a top 20 pick in the NFL Draft later this month and you didn't really have to come to this workout. Why did you want to come out?
A: "It's my hometown. Regardless if I come play here or not, it's my hometown and you always want to show your hometown some love, whether you're No. 1 or the last pick in the draft."
Q: You've been to the NFL Scouting Combine and you took part in the Pro Day at the University of Maryland on March 16. Is there anything more for you to do to help your draft status?
A: "I think I've done very well in showing people what I can do. I've had a lot of individual workouts already. I've been worked out by several teams. Everything has worked out well, so I'm just waiting to see what happens."
Q: Are NFL teams looking at you more as a linebacker or as a defensive end?
A: "It's about half and half right now. I'm at about 273 or 274 pounds right now, and that's a pretty good weight for me to play defensive end. I've bulked up about 16-17 pounds from my playing weight during the season. But I run a pretty good time in the 40, so teams know I have some speed. It'll be whatever a team wants me to do, then that's what I'll do."
Q: Are you hoping to get selected by the Redskins?
A: "I definitely wouldn't mind playing for the Redskins. If they need me, I'm here with a Redskins cap on and I'm ready to get out there and start working."