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Alabama's Upshaw embracing the Combine craziness

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Dan Parr
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By Dan Parr

INDIANAPOLIS — Alabama's Courtney Upshaw, the top rush linebacker in this year's draft, arrived at the Scouting Combine looking to solidify his status as a first-round lock. He met with the media Saturday and told reporters the experience in Indianapolis has been "crazy" thus far.

"When I say 'crazy,' I mean it's been fun," Upshaw said. "I should say it like that. It's been more than I expected. Players that I talk to who have been in this environment in the past, they tell me all the good things about it and it's been what they said, so I'm having fun here."

Upshaw's impressive performance as a starting outside linebacker in the Crimson Tide's 3-4 defense over the past two seasons has some projecting him to be among the first 10 players drafted in April. He's credited for being an intense competitor on the field, and he showed some perfectionist-type tendencies Saturday, expressing some disappointment that he weighed in at 272 pounds — two pounds heavier than he had hoped to.

"I wanted to tip the scale at 270, but I have awhile before I weigh in again, so I'll be down to my ideal weight," Upshaw said. "It's just a goal for me, personally, to get down a few pounds."

One of the knocks against Upshaw is that he's short-armed. When asked for his arm measurements, he said he couldn't remember.

Upshaw projects most naturally to playing outside 'backer in a 3-4 defense, but he wasn't going to limit his potential suitors when a reporter asked whether he could play in a 4-3.

"I'm very comfortable (with the 4-3)," he said. "We've got a nickel package (at Alabama) where I played the 4-3 as the end away from the tight end in a five-technique with a hand in the ground, dropping out of a three-point stance in coverage if the D-end had to. I'm real comfortable doing that. I did a little bit of that at the Senior Bowl with the Redskins."

Upshaw has a shot to be the first Alabama defender taken in the draft, but he has highly touted fellow Crimson Tide defenders to commiserate with during the pre-draft process. Alabama S Mark Barron is a potential top-10 pick, and OLB Dont'a Hightower could also be drafted in the first round.

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