Published Mon, Apr 23, 2012 11:05 am Dateline
Updated Mon, Apr 23, 2012 12:51 pm
For former Ohio Bobcat linebacker Noah Keller, the magic number is one. There are 32 teams in the NFL, but it takes the interest of just a single team for Keller to hear his name called during the NFL Draft.
For the New England Patriots, the magic number is 10. That’s how many consecutive playoff appearances the Pats have enjoyed, including three Super Bowl victories from 2001-2004 that earned them the “dynasty” tag.
Keller and the Patriots crossed paths on Tuesday when he worked out for the storied NFL program in the confines of Peden Stadium.
“They’re definitely one of the teams any person would want to play for,” Keller said. “I think just being able to have that opportunity would be great for me.”
The Kearney, Nebraska native has greatly improved his draft stock over the past year and has given himself a better chance to play on Sundays because of his ability to respond to adversity. On Sept. 18, 2010, in a game against Ohio State, the senior tore a ligament in his right foot that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Because the injury occurred on just Ohio’s second game of the season, Keller was given a medical redshirt and a clean slate for the 2011 season.
He did not disappoint.
Keller led the Bobcats with 116 total tackles on the season, including 11 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to help secure Ohio’s first ever bowl victory.
“I think it just goes to show my love for the game. I’m diligent and I’m tough. I think those are all three qualities that make me a good football player,” he said.
Despite Keller’s ability to rebound and turn in a solid season, his mailbox was empty when invitations to the NFL Combine were delivered.
“I wish I would’ve been able to get an invite, but then I know that there’s nothing I can do about it now, and so I just knew I had to come out and perform at my pro day.”
The word “perform” might be an understatement. Keller turned in numbers at Ohio’s pro day that would have put him in the top five of all inside linebackers that participated in the Combine had he been invited to Indianapolis. He recorded 28 reps off 225 pounds on the bench press. He ran the 40 in 4.63 seconds. He even showed his hops with a 37-inch vertical jump. What more does Noah Keller need to prove?
“I can play inside. I can play outside. I can learn multiple positions. I’ve got great instincts and I’m just a hard worker,” Keller said. “I’m a guy that will bring leadership qualities to the team that you can’t find in a lot of places.”