Twentyman: Detroit Lions host versatile RB Onterio McCalebb for pre-draft visit

Posted Mar 25, 2013

Onterio McCalebb fits the role of a third-down back and change-of-pace runner because of his speed, but can also step into the slot and be a weapon at receiver

Like many undersized players with terrific speed who are entering the NFL Draft, former Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb (5-10, 170) isn't likely to enter the league with a defined role. Instead, he is considered a jack-of-all-trades.
Onterio McCalebb
RB Onterio McCalebb (Photo: AP Images)

His speed – which was timed at 4.34 (officially) at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month and unofficially at 4.29 at his Pro Day earlier this month – allows teams to be open-minded when it comes using him at the next level.

"I'm just blessed that I can go out there and do multiple things," McCalebb told during his visit Monday.

"A lot of teams and a lot of coaches are looking for a person that can not just do one thing, but can do it all, and help them win in different ways."

McCalebb fits the role of a third-down back and change-of-pace runner because of his speed, but he can also step into the slot and be a weapon as a receiver. He has experience returning kicks at Auburn and was even asked by NFL scouts to perform some drills at cornerback at his Auburn Pro Day. He hasn't played cornerback since his days at Fort Meade High School in Florida.

"I just love the game and I do anything to help a team win," he said. "Third-down back, slot receivers, special teams returning kicks and punts. I'll do anything."

McCalebb worked out at running back, receiver and cornerback during his Pro Day.

During his freshman year at Auburn, McCalebb ran the ball 105 times for 565 yards and four touchdowns, setting the Auburn record for yards per carry (8.5) in a season.

He came back as a sophomore with 95 carries for 810 yards and nine touchdowns as the Tigers won the BCS National Championship in 2010. He was sporting his title ring from that season during his visit to Allen Park on Monday.

As a junior, he had 112 carries for 641 yards and five touchdowns and caught 32 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

This past season, McCalebb ran 94 times for 570 yards and six touchdowns. He also had another kick return for a touchdown.

He says he would probably fit best as a Dexter McCluster-type of player, looking to get the ball in space to make a play.

Though the Lions signed Reggie Bush as a speed element out of the backfield a couple weeks ago, an NFL offense can never have too many versitile players with speed.

Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell are also under contract for next season, but there may still room on the roster for another speed back.

McCalebb said his visit to Detroit was his first in the pre-draft process. He is currently in the process of scheduling private workouts with other teams.