Don't short-change UH's Estes Letuli granted sixth UH year
BY Stephen Tsai
Football is a sport in which the playing field is measured in yards and dreams in inches.
For all of his accomplishments — 54 starts in 54 NCAA games, four for four in All-Western Athletic Conference honors — former Hawai'i center John Estes' pro future might come down to a tale of the tape.
The measuring tape.
Through years of study, it has been found that the most successful National Football League centers have arm reaches of at least 30 inches. The significance, it has been argued, is that a long reach is needed to fight off nose tackles as more NFL teams go with 3-4 defensive schemes.
On several scouting reports, Estes' reach is listed at 9ﬁ inches. A scout told Advertiser NFL draft analyst Curtis Murayama that Estes is "a tough guy, plays hard, but has short arms."
Thing is, the source of the measurement is a mystery. Estes' reach has been measured twice by NFL scouts — at UH's Junior Pro Day last year and at UH's Pro Day earlier this month. Both times, Estes' reach exceeded 30 inches — 30 1/4 inches at Junior Pro Day, 30 1/2 at Pro Day.
Perhaps a mixup occurred because during Junior Day, cornerback Chris Black's reach of 29ﬁ was listed just above Estes' 30 1/4 measurement.
In any case, agent Kenny Zuckerman has tried to spread the word that Estes twice met a key measurable for a center.
Estes said he also would like to assure prospective employers that he has recovered from a hamstring injury suffered while running the 40-yard dash during Pro Day.
"Everything is OK now," said Estes, who receives physical therapy at University of the Pacific, which is located in his hometown of Stockton, Calif. Estes also trains daily.
"I'm ready," Estes said.
It is not known where Estes will end up. The NFL's seven-round, three-day draft begins tomorrow.
Estes is projected anywhere from a late-round draft pick to a free agent.
In college, Estes was effective in blocking stout defensive linemen. But critics have wondered, according to Zuckerman , if Estes is "big enough to do it game in and game out. It's a lot different than playing against big sloppy guys. The NFL is different. (Nose tackles are) 350 pounds of beef."
Zuckerman said Estes' body of work — at UH and in the East-West Shrine Game — prove he is capable. But unlike college, NFL teams usually activate only eight offensive linemen for games. The reserves are usually combination players, such as guard/tackle or guard/center.
Because Estes is a pure snapper, he probably would need to go to a team with an older center. Likely matches are the St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears.
"Whatever team I go to will get a solid football player who will work hard every play," Estes said. "The guy who played 54 straight games, that was me."