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Ball to work out for Lions as receiver


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/30/07

As the only Georgia Tech player drafted on a day when up to four had realistic chances, Mansfield Wrotto was "extremely excited" about being drafted in the fourth round Sunday by the Seahawks.

He also was shocked to have to run solo in that race. At least he doesn't have to race former teammate Calvin Johnson, the wide receiver drafted No. 2 overall Saturday, in the NFL.

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Reggie Ball will have that honor.

Tech's former quarterback will be a non-roster invitee to the Detroit Lions' minicamp beginning Thursday, where he'll be evaluated as a wide receiver/kick returner, according to his agent, Butch Williams. "Pittsburgh and Baltimore have also shown interest at the same position," Williams said.

Ball will essentially try out for a contract, much as former Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick did last spring with the Dolphins.

Some former Tech teammates agreed to free-agent contracts after not being drafted. Defensive tackle Joe Anoai will join the Vikings. Linebacker KaMichael Hall is headed to the Colts, tight end George Cooper to the Lions and tight end Michael Matthews to the Giants.

All deals are pending, and cornerback Kenny Scott, who like Anoai and Hall thought he would be drafted, will be a non-roster invitee when Tampa Bay begins minicamp Thursday.

"I'm surprised. I will get hold of them," said Wrotto, who played defensive line his first three seasons at Tech before switching to right tackle. "They still have an opportunity to play; not everybody in the league gets drafted."

Hall vowed Thursday not to watch the draft because of nerves. He ended up watching Sunday. It was a difficult.

"The first day I watched the beginning to see where Calvin was going to go, and then no more," he said. "[Sunday], I kind of buckled [and watched]. Difficult is an understatement. I've never felt that way in my life."

Hall said he thought his size worked against him; on Tech's pro day in March, he measured in at 6 feet, 218 pounds.

Wrotto's size worked for him. At 6-3, 317 pounds, he is stumpy for an NFL tackle, and he did not practice or play especially well at that position in the Senior Bowl in January. But in side sessions at guard, he made enough of an impression that the 49ers, Eagles, Browns, Panthers, Falcons and Chiefs had him in for workouts.

He has also worked out at center, where Seattle starter Robbie Tobeck, who once played for the Falcons, recently retired. The Seahawks traded wide receiver Darrell Jackson to the 49ers on Sunday to get the pick they used to select Wrotto.

"In the NFL, they feel tackles are usually taller than 6-3, with longer arms," Wrotto said. "I feel more comfortable at guard, and with my quickness I've been told I might work at center."

Seattle vice president of player personnel Ruston Webster said of Wrotto, "He's a real wide body, and because of our [depth] at guard, he has a great chance to grow there. He's a powerful guy who has borderline speed for tackle, but fits inside real well, and he'll get better."

Like Hall, Anoai was disappointed and surprised at not being selected.

"Yeah, as a competitor you want to be taken as high as possible," he said. "It just wasn't God's plan."

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