At the NFL combine, college experience is considered a game-winner


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Linebacker Ochaun Mathis is betting another year of college football will help him make an NFL roster.

He knew entering the league at age 24 was a risky proposition, as most players’ careers end at age 25. He knew scouts and team decision-makers would take him down a few pegs on the draft board because of his seniority. He also thought it needed more time to develop.

Now, with another year of development, the former Nebraska star has a chance to continue his dream job at the league’s annual combine in Indianapolis.

“Yeah, they want a young guy and that definitely affects me coming into the draft,” Mathis said Thursday before the first practice sessions on the field. “I didn’t want to get too old, you know, don’t screw up the process. So just testing the waters and getting there and taking a leap of faith is one of the biggest things I’ve had to do.

Evaluating older draft prospects adds a surprising new twist to a sport that typically values ​​youth and potential over finished product. It wasn’t that long ago that most teams wouldn’t consider signing a 24-year-old rookie because the average career lasts less than four seasons.

However, things look set to change now – perhaps in the long run.

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