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Scouting Combine notebook: Gronkowski can do more than play fullback

INDIANAPOLIS – Glenn Gronkowski would be happy to play anywhere in the NFL.

But becoming the first of his football-playing brothers to join the Buffalo Bills?

“Yeah, that would be awesome,” the Williamsville North High School graduate and former Kansas State standout fullback said Thursday while meeting with reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Obviously, growing up, we were at all the Bills’ games. We were cheering for the Bills and all that.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Gronkowski said he had met with representatives of 15 to 20 NFL teams, but that the Bills weren’t one of them.

What’s the No. 1 question he’s heard since arriving at the Combine? About the recent party cruise hosted by his brother, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

“Yeah, I’ve actually been asked about the cruise probably 50 times since I’ve been here so far (by clubs and media),” he said. “I was not on the cruise, unfortunately. Seen some pretty fun videos from it, though.”

Although fullback is a dying position in the NFL, Gronkowski believes he has the ability to contribute in other ways. That includes special teams, which he didn’t play in college but wants to play as a pro.

“Obviously, I just played fullback in college, but actually at the Senior Bowl, I was playing a lot of H-back, fullback and they even had me out at slot receiver,” he said. “I think I adjusted to it very well, so I think I can do more than just play fullback.”

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If Kevin Hogan is a more conventional choice, Dak Prescott would be the wild card option. Again, Buffalo Bills General Manager Doug Whaley indicated the team would take a long look at the quarterbacks in this 2016 NFL Draft.

And Mississippi State’s Prescott could turn heads when the testing begins at the Combine. He’s the dual-threat mystery who could intrigue offensive coordinators this spring.

Of course, some dual threats succeed, where many more fail.

Why is that?

“I think the equalizer in the game of football is mental,” Prescott said, “and it’s not about being athletic, it’s not about being able to run or not, I think it’s about your mental capacity of the game and I think Cam and Russell Wilson and Tyrod Taylor are showing you can be athletic, but as long as you’re smart and know what you’re doing, it can work to your benefit.”

Quite the company.

When asked if he’d want a quarterback with a similar skill-set as Taylor as his No. 2, Whaley said that “Greg Roman and his offense can be adaptable to any skill-set of a quarterback.” Prescott would be the running threat that, at least athletically, fits this offense. The Bills relied heavily on the shotgun as the season progressed with Taylor setting a franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback.

With the Bulldogs, Prescott threw for 3,793 yards, rushed for 588 yards and scored 39 total touchdowns with only five interceptions in 2015. The year before, he rushed for 986 yards. Now, the pre-draft hype is building. Prescott, 6 foot 2, 226 pounds with 10 7/8-inch hands, could wow on the field once the drills begin. But is this Tim Tebow all over again? Time will tell.

Prescott said he must prove he can take drops from center, something he didn’t do in high school or college. He did seem comfortable under center at the Senior Bowl.

“I’m athletic enough to do it,” Prescott said, “so I don’t think it’s a hard transition. I just need to work at it and get comfortable at it.”

The No. 1 trait a quarterback must possess in the NFL, to him, is leadership. He helped turn the program around in college, going 10-3 and 9-4 the last two years.

“I think going into an organization if you can get those guys to rally around you and, not be fake, you just be true to who you are,” Prescott said, “just get everybody to believe in themselves, to believe in you, knowing you’re going to go out there and make a play it just raises the expectations of the team, of the organization and allow everybody to get better.”

Despite questions about Prescott adjusting to life in a more conventional pocket, there were promising signs.

For one, he threw one of the best back-shoulder balls in college.

“Your receiver is not necessarily running by the DB, the DB is kind of on top of him,” Prescott said. “You pull him up, throw it a little bit behind him, and I had bigger receivers and they usually have a size match-up. They’re not necessarily vertical threats. The DB’s in the SEC, it’s hard to run by anybody in the SEC, but when you create those match-ups the back shoulder really comes into play.”

Prescott spoke with the Bills during Senior Bowl Week. Where will he go in the draft remains to be seen.

“There’s a lot of great quarterbacks, Hall of Famers, that were drafted late, so it really doesn’t matter,” Prescott said. “It’s about getting in there proving yourself once you’re in training camp.”

email: vcarucci@buffnews.com and tdunne@buffnews.com

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