Two-man Wolf Pack looking to take next step in NFL

Few people know Colin Kaepernick as well as Virgil Green.

They entered the University of Nevada together as freshmen -- Kaepernick as a quarterback, Green as a tight end. They room together. They constantly compete against each other to help raise the level of each other's performance.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Green said he thinks Kaepernick should be a first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. However, he at least offers some substantive reasons why.

Draft prospect rankings

Take a look at the grades for the top 2011 draft prospects, with Colin Kaepernick rated as the fifth-best quarterback and Virgil Green placed at No. 4 among tight ends.

"His work ethic is beyond anyone else's and his athleticism and everything he's done to progress over the years," Green told me during a recent interview on Sirius NFL Radio.

When they arrived at Nevada, Kaepernick knew only one speed for a pass to travel: As fast as it possibly could. As he noticed many of the balls bouncing off of receivers' fingers -- when they didn't miss them altogether -- he realized he had to make some adjustments.

Green had a close-up view as Kaepernick worked on a delivery that made his passes more catchable. He still throws extremely hard; he had the fastest pass velocity at the NFL Scouting Combine with a clocking of 59 mph. But his throws are more accurate. That has gone a long way toward allowing Kaepernick to rank among the top quarterback prospects in the draft, and he could very well end up being a high pick if projections are accurate that as many as six signal-callers could be taken in the first round.

"He knew what he needed to improve on and every year he got better and better and better," Green said. "And this past year, you already knew Colin was going to complete a ball (before he threw it) because he's worked so hard and he knows what to do now to complete the passes. And he knows he doesn't have to throw the ball 90 miles an hour."

Green and Kaepernick know they have each other to thank for their development as players. Their off-field friendship did plenty to form strong on-field chemistry that paid off with big plays.

"He's always tried to encourage me and push me to go harder, and I've done the same to him," Green said. "He knows that he can trust me in some crucial situations, and I know I can trust him to make big plays, get (the ball) to whoever needs to get the ball for us to win the game."

The tight end turned some heads at the combine by showing more explosiveness than personnel evaluators thought he had. He still isn't nearly as highly regarded as Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph and Arkansas' D.J. Williams, considered the two best players at a position that doesn't offer much depth, but he is on the radar of multiple teams.

Green would love to join Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez as another NFL rookie to have a major impact as a pass-catcher. But he thinks teams will be surprised to find out that he has a true affinity for the less glamorous side of his position.

"I think what people don't know is that I actually love blocking," Green said. "It's something that I enjoy. It's a true passion of mine. Any time that you can spring somebody for a touchdown or just make a crushing block and knock somebody down, it's almost as good as making a touchdown or a big catch. I love adding that to a team and being dominant in the run game."

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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