Punter John Torp was one of six former Colorado Buffaloes who were invited to and took part in the NFL Combine in Indianapolis Feb. 22-28. He joined Jeremy Bloom, Brian Iwuh, Joe Klopfenstein, Quinn Sypniewski and Lawrence Vickers.
Torp, one of 10 punters and kickers taking part in the combine, arrived with the first wave of players on Feb. 22. The first thing combine officials did was give the players jerseys with numbers on them and whisk them away to the hospital for a battery of x-rays, blood tests, drug tests and various other examinations.
“It’s about five hours,” Torp said of the medical exam. “Every team doctor checks you out and gives you a thorough examination to make sure you’re not a risk, that your body isn’t going to break down.”
Being a punter, Torp didn’t participate in the strength and speed tests like other position players. Rather than bench press 225 pounds, run 40-yard dashes or shuttles, he spent time interviewing with each of the teams. (He said the most fun was spending some time with former Buffaloes coaches Eric Bieniemy, Jon Embree and Vance Joseph, who are all now assistants in the NFL and were at the combine).
Each position group spent four days at the combine, and Torp and his fellow punters showed their skills on the fourth day. Each punter had 14 punts.
“It went pretty good,” Torp said Monday. “I definitely always think I can kick better, but it was a great experience.”
While they didn't have to run the 40, Torp and his fellow punters had to take the Wonderlic test, like the rest of the players. The Wonderlic is an intelligence test given at the combine each year. It consists of 50 questions (from math to vocabulary and word problems, according to Torp), that must be accomplished in 12 minutes. Torp said he wasn’t given his final score, but figured he did well enough on the test not to throw up any red flags for teams that are considering drafting him.
He said he’s had the most conversations with the Cleveland Browns organization. Torp talked with the Browns’ general manager when he took part in the Senior Bowl in January, then sat down with the rest of the Cleveland coaches in Indianapolis. Nine-year journeyman Kyle Richardson handled Cleveland’s punting in 2005. The Browns added a punter to their practice squad for two weeks midway through last season when Richardson was in a slump, but Richardson eventually pulled out of it.
Torp also spoke recently with the Baltimore Ravens special teams coaches, and they set up an individual workout with the punter in Boulder for March 24.
Still, Torp declined to speculate on where he might get drafted, if he’s drafted at all in April.
“Who knows,” he said. “They always say the teams that (draft) you are the teams that you didn’t even talk to.”
If Torp makes it in the NFL, he’ll be the next in a long line of former Colorado punters who’ve played professionally, including Barry Helton, Mitch Berger and Tom Rouen. Helton went in the fourth round to the San Francisco 49ers in 1988 draft, and Berger was drafted in 1994. Three other former Buffalo punters — Rouen, Keith English and Mark Mariscal — were given free agent tryouts. It’s difficult to project if Torp will get drafted or get a free agent look.
Until an opportunity presents itself, Torp is busy working out. Rather than get into lifting heavy weights to build leg strength, and reducing the amount of actual kicks like a typical offseason, Torp has been punting regularly in preparation for the combine and his individual workouts. He’s not sure yet how much he’ll participate in Colorado’s March 17 Pro Timing Day, but will likely punt some for scouts.
Most of all, the combine was an eye-opener for Torp.
“It’s almost surreal just how much effort goes into it. It’s so organized,” he said. “The teams spend millions of dollars just on scouting. It’s such a big investment on all these players. You definitely get a sense how it’s a big money business.”
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