INDIANAPOLIS — Most of the players at the NFL Scouting Combine have spent their entire lives dreaming of and preparing for this opportunity. They’ve devoted years — in some cases decades — to the chance to reach the NFL.
And then there are those like Ethan Greenidge.
Playing football at Riverhead High School was just something he did for fun. He was a big kid, his friends played, so he did too. The NFL? That wasn’t even a flicker of a reality in his mind during his time growing up on Long Island.
But this past week, after four years of starting on the offensive line at Villanova, Greenidge was here in Indianapolis talking to the Giants and the Jets and others about how they might be able to use his size and talents in the future.
“I never even thought about playing in college until I was recruited my senior year in high school,” Greenidge told Newsday. “After my second year at Villanova, I started to realize I might be able to do it at the next level and I started taking it more seriously, but growing up, I was a big basketball guy and football was just for fun. I got pretty big pretty fast and I started taking it more seriously than I was.”
He didn’t get to have the full combine experience. He had surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum in late January, right after he played in the East-West Shrine Game. He initially suffered the injury in midseason and decided to play through it, but once the season was officially over, he got it fixed.
He expects to be cleared in mid-May, which could mean he’ll miss the spring with any NFL team that either drafts or signs him as a free agent, but he expects to be at full strength by the time training camp starts. There is a chance he’ll be able to do some drills at his Pro Day on March 25, but he definitely won’t be able to do any bench presses or upper-body work.
So instead of lifting and running in Indianapolis, Greenidge could only watch the on-field activities. He did get measured in — he was 6-4 3⁄4 and 326 pounds — and met with plenty of teams. They see him as a swingman on the offensive line with the potential to play either tackle or guard.
And he did get to collect some of the spoils, such as the snazzy workout gear that the players are given for their on- and off-field chores at the event with their name and number on the front and back.
“It was definitely crazy,” he said. “Coming from an FCS school like Villanova, we don’t really have all those things. Going to something like this with everyone from around the country is really, really cool. It’s a surreal experience. I’ve never experienced anything else like it and I’ll treasure it the rest of my life.”
That’s nothing compared to what could happen next. Some scouts project Greenidge as a sixth- or seventh-round pick. The chances are pretty good that even if he isn’t drafted, he’ll get a chance to be on an NFL roster at some point this summer.
“Not many people can say they played in the NFL, and that’s something I’m looking forward to,” he said. “If that happens to me, I’ll be ecstatic and really excited and ready to play.”
But a dream come true? Not really. For it to qualify as that, he’d have had to consider the possibility much earlier.