Posted: Sunday February 26, 2006 3:36PM; Updated: Monday February 27, 2006 2:38PM
Likened to Wayne Chrebet by one NFL observer, Jeremy Bloom is 5-feet-9, 173 pounds but said this week he intends to get back to his 185-pound football playing weight before the draft.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Italy and the Olympics may not have gone quite as well as he had hoped, but the whole Indianapolis experience went successfully for U.S. skier turned NFL prospect Jeremy Bloom.
Bloom turned in 40-yard dash times of 4.49 and 4.50 at the NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday, cementing his status as a strong candidate to be selected on the second day of the league's April 29-30 draft. The former Colorado receiver/return man came to the combine despite not having played football since 2003, before being ruled ineligible by the NCAA in 2004 for accepting endorsements in support of his Olympic freestyle skiing career.
"He didn't hurt himself at all,'' said one longtime league personnel evaluator. "He ran well. Especially considering the guy's been in ski boots for six months. I think he's moved himself out of the world of being a seventh-rounder.''
Bloom finished sixth in the men's moguls at the Winter Olympics in Turin, then packed up and headed for Indianapolis with the goal of reviving his football career. Scouts were intrigued by his prospects but eager to see how much of his speed remained after two years of exclusively concentrating on skiing.
"To me, he's a Wayne Chrebet,'' one league observer said. "I talked to him and thought I was talking to Chrebet. He's a little return guy and slot receiver. He's an impressive kid. I'm kind of surprised he ran here, because I thought he might hurt himself after not running for two years. He just needs to get a little bit bigger now. He's small.''
Bloom is 5-feet-9, 173 pounds but said this week he intends to get back to his 185-pound football playing weight before the draft. Scouts also contend he needs to continue to improve his route-running, which has never been his strength and figures to be even rustier after his two-year hiatus from football.
"He's got that short-area speed that you're looking for, that change-of-direction quickness,'' said one NFC personnel man who scouts the West. "But he also ran past [then Kansas State cornerback] Terence Newman on a 75-yard touchdown reception once at Colorado, so he can move in the open, too. He'll come off the board on the second day. He won't be a collegiate free agent.''
Meeting the media on Friday, Bloom said a career in the NFL was "a viable goal" and talked of skiing being in his past for good.
"I don't see myself going back to skiing,'' Bloom said. "I've accomplished everything and more than I ever imagined in that sport, and it's been an incredible six years competing in the World Cup tour. But [football] is a challenge. This is where the challenge is at, and that's what drives me to work and to succeed. I dreamed big as a kid, but I never thought in a million years in a span of a week I'd be able to compete in the Olympics and be at the NFL combine.''