Brohm eager to prove he's NFL-ready

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Brian Brohm thought he prepared for everything when he spent three months getting ready for the NFL Combine.

Yet all the weight lifting, all the running and all the throwing didn't prepare the former Louisville quarterback for what it felt like to stand in front of a room full of grown men wearing a nervous smile.

The scale during the weigh-in at the combine in Indianapolis in February didn't hold any mystery. Brohm played at around 230 pounds most of his college career.

What happened next though, was perhaps the surest sign that the whole NFL evaluation process goes far beyond the Wonderlic test and the 40-yard dash.

A few minutes after stepping off the scale, Brohm received a message from his agent. An NFL general manager had just called to let the agent know how much the GM liked Brohm's body.

"It's weird for a guy to comment on your body like that," said Brohm, failing to fight off a blush.

Brohm couldn't help but laugh a little while telling the story, out of relief more than anything. After months under the microscope, the end to the longest job interview of his life is in sight.

The golden child of Louisville's first football family -- father Oscar and older brothers Jeff and Greg all played for the Cardinals -- knows he'll be taken in the draft. Where at this point doesn't matter, so long as it's over, so long as he can focus on moving forward instead of hearing why teams shouldn't draft him.

It's a refrain Brohm has heard for the past year, ever since he decided to return for his senior season rather than become a likely top 10 pick so he could help the Cardinals make the final step toward national prominence.

Brohm's Heisman Trophy campaign ended sometime in September after the Cardinals stumbled from the Top 10 to out of the polls on their way to an underachieving 6-6 season under first-year coach Steve Kragthorpe.

Louisville's struggles, however, could hardly be placed on Brohm. He posted career highs in yards (4,024) and touchdowns (30) while completing 65 percent of his passes.

After struggling with injuries during his sophomore and junior seasons, he played in all 12 games as a senior and seemed to prove he was more than just a product of former coach Bobby Petrino's quarterback-friendly system.

Yet when the draft begins on Saturday, Brohm won't be in an anxious green room in New York sitting next to other top picks in a perfectly tailored suit. Instead he'll be at home with friends waiting for the phone to ring.

Why the sudden fall? Even Brohm isn't sure, though he knows plenty of other people have their theories. He can't help but come across some anytime he turns on his computer and Googles himself.

"There's a lot of opinions out there," Brohm said. "Everybody wants to have their take on you whether you think it's true or not."

The majority of naysayers focus on Brohm's arm strength and mobility even though he finished second behind Delaware's Joe Flacco in the competition for strongest arm at the combine.

"I feel like I have good pocket presence," Brohm said. "I know how to get up the field when I have to."

In his most trying season, Brohm managed to stay healthy and says the knee and shoulder problems that plagued him early in his career are a thing of the past.

"Teams always say they're looking for that 6-foot-5 guy with the strong arm," Brohm said. "I know I'm 6-3, but I think I'm pretty much in that mold."

Yet for a team looking to make a significant investment in his future, Brohm has learned the process is going to be thorough and at times unpleasant. It's a refrain he keeps hearing from everyone from his brother Jeff -- who spent several seasons kicking around the NFL -- to Kragthorpe to Carson Palmer and Chris Redman.

Kragthorpe likened Brohm's rollicking stock to that of Brady Quinn, who spent an agonizing draft day watching 21 picks go by before the Cleveland Browns scooped him up at No. 22.

At least Brohm won't have to endure Quinn's agonizing wait in front of the frenzied fans and the unblinking TV cameras. Besides, if he gets drafted, he'll already be ahead of Jeff Brohm, who had to make the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 1994.

Eventually, Brohm knows his opportunity will come. He knows he'll make more money the second he signs his contract than most of his friends will make in a lifetime. Though, being the cautious guy he is, he's still driving the same Pontiac sedan he's had for a while. The sports cars and the commercials can wait.

"My buddies are telling me I need to go out and buy something, but I think they just want to ride in it," he said, laughing.

The money could have been a little bit better, his draft stock a little higher, the car a little shinier if he'd left after his junior season. Brohm, however, doesn't regret his decision to stay at his hometown school.

"I loved my time here, last year included," he said. "It's time to move on. One of my dreams since I was little was to play for Louisville. Now I'm ready to move on to the next one."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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