Romeus primed to improve draft stock

PITTSBURGH -- When Greg Romeus watches film of himself from last season, he says he sees all kinds of mistakes. Poor technique, bad footwork, not finishing off plays -- those things all jump out at him.

And remember, he is the reigning Big East co-defensive player of year.

Still, Romeus believes he has plenty of room for improvement that will make him a better player and a richer man soon. That's why the defensive end decided to return to the Pittsburgh Panthers for his senior year instead of entering the NFL Draft this winter.

"Next year, I'll be more prepared," he said. "The more experience I have, the better chance I have [of being a high draft pick]."

Romeus gave serious thought to coming out after his junior year, and there's no doubt his 6-foot-6, 270-pound package of skills would have intrigued NFL personnel. Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt called his contacts in the pros, and he said the consensus among them was that Romeus would be a third- or fourth-round pick in this year's deep draft.

"He and I talked about it, and I told him if he needed the money, he should go," Wannstedt said. "But I really believe he's a first- or second-round draft pick. I think he'll be a great player in the NFL. I think he'll have a great year here and then make a ton of money."

Romeus is still relatively new to the sport, having not played football until his senior year in high school. So his ceiling remains ridiculously high, which must be a sobering thought to opponents already having trouble containing him.

"You aren't going to find too many people with Greg's size and athleticism," Pitt left tackle Jason Pinkston said. "Practicing against him all the time makes Saturdays seem easy."

For all of his talent, Romeus has never put up huge numbers. He shared the Big East honor last year with teammate Mick Williams despite recording only eight sacks and 43 tackles. But it's often a race to the quarterback between him and fellow senior defensive end Jabaal Sheard. And though Williams and Gus Mustakas are gone, the Panthers remain strong in the middle with Myles Caragein and Chas Alecxih.

"We finished No. 1 in the nation in sacks last year and it wasn't just one player getting 13 or 14 sacks," he said. "I think that's what makes the line so good. Somebody might be getting chipped or double-teamed the whole game, and another person will step up."

Romeus and Sheard played a lot of snaps last season because they didn't have experienced backups. This spring, sophomore Shayne Hale and junior Brandon Lindsey have performed well and could perhaps provide more depth at the position. Romeus thinks that will make him better.

"I need to play harder and run to the ball more," he said. "I have to get off the field if I'm tired. I plan on being a lot more aggressive this year."

And by the end of the season, he could produce some film that NFL scouts will love to watch.