Although he's a Division III prospect, Hobart College OL Ali Marpet has consistently demonstrated many of the measurables that NFL executives yearn for.
Ali Marpet grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, a small village that lies adjacent to the Hudson River. Although a talented lineman, he weighed just over 200 pounds his junior year of high school and was lightly recruited by division one programs. Marpet explained his decision to remain in New York State and further his football career at Hobart College in Geneva, New York.
"It was an academic decision; that's why I went to Hobart," he said. "I went to a smaller high school, and we didn't produce a lot of D-I guys, so I wound up at Hobart."
Marpet was a starter his sophomore year was named a team captain before his junior season, an accomplishment that "rarely happens" according to former teammate and current Hobart assistant coach Tom Elder.
"He always led by example, always put extra work in," said Elder "Players gravitated to him because he consistently made the right decisions."
His junior year was also the time that NFL scouts took notice. Beyond his dominant play on the field, Marpet put on the proper weight while maintaining great athleticism. His once far-fetched dream of playing in the NFL was becoming a potential reality.
"BLESTO (scouting service) came by, and I ran the 40 for them, I took the Wonderlic and they measured me, and I discovered that I had the same physical tools as some of the other offensive linemen," Marpet said. "So I said, 'Why not me?'"
Marpet played at the 300-pound mark his senior season and was named D3Football.com First Team All-American, an award that concluded his illustrious career.
The obvious question regarding Marpet is how he will transition from the Division III level to the NFL, as there has not been an offensive lineman drafted from the Division III level in the past 19 years. How would he compete when matched up against elite Division I talent? Marpet silenced many critics and enhanced his draft status after a strong week at the Senior Bowl in January. The feedback he received throughout the week from NFL coaches also did wonders for his morale.
"The Senior Bowl was a huge confidence-booster," he said. "I think they understood that I could play in the NFL, and that was big for me."
Marpet continued to impress at the NFL Combine in February, where he ran the 40-yard dash faster than any other offensive lineman at 4.98 seconds. He coupled his showing of speed with strength, ranking highly among offensive lineman at the combine with 30 bench press repetitions (225 lbs).
"I believe he can be a starting center in this league," says NFL media draft analyst Mike Mayock. "He is checking off all the boxes."
For Marpet to experience NFL success many believe he must leave his collegiate position of tackle for a move inside to guard or center. Former Hobart center and current offensive line coach, Mike Green, played alongside Marpet and also coached him this past season. He suggested the difficulty of a position switch, but believes that Marpet is up for the challenge.
"He is working to improve on his snapping technique and combining that with blocking," said Green. "From playing offensive tackle his entire career, he never had any game experience playing center. I believe he is quickly learning the skill and I have complete confidence that he will be able to play center at the next level."
Many draft analysts suggest Marpet will be selected between the second to fourth round.