INDIANAPOLIS — Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo are two of 13 Louisiana State players at the NFL Combine, and because they play the same position — defensive end — they’re chasing the same thing: trying to get drafted higher.
Both are considered first-round talents, so they’ve decided to increase the competition with a friendly — but expensive — wager. The winner, according to Montgomery and Mingo, will earn $5,000.
“We’ve had quite a few bets in our career,” Mingo said. “I’m pretty confident.”
It’s not the first time the fast-talking defensive ends have put their money where their mouths are. Montgomery had 19 career sacks for the Tigers, including eight last season. Mingo finished with 15 sacks at LSU.
“We had three bets going on,” said Montgomery, who, like Mingo, chose to leave LSU after his junior season. “One was who had the higher sacks for $1,000. I won that. I can’t remember the $500 bet. Oh yeah, it was who had the most sacks in the last game. I won that.
“Now we are fighting [for] who is highest in the draft. That amount of money is pretty big, so I have to come up with this one.”
New Hampshire defensive lineman Jared Smith isn’t one of those lower-level FCS players who are simply happy to be here. In Smith’s eyes, it moves him one step closer to the NFL, where he belongs.
“Seeing where I am makes me focus and work that much harder, that I’m that much closer,” Smith said. “It’s not hard. People just need to learn how to stick with their dreams.”
Smith said he has met with the Patriots and Packers, among other teams, and at 6 feet 3½ inches, 302 pounds, he could be used as a nose tackle or elsewhere in the interior, depending on the team. Coming off a senior season in which he had 10 tackles for loss, Smith is projected to be a low-round pick, if drafted at all.
He’ll use this opportunity to hopefully open some eyes.
“My whole approach is just performing, showing that I can compete with guys that have played at a higher level than me,” Smith said. “I’m very confident in performing very well.”
Another FCS product turned plenty of heads during the combine’s first on-field workouts. Terron Armstead, an offensive tackle from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, posted the fastest 40-yard dash time among offensive linemen. He ran 4.71, a number that could boost his draft position; most have him pegged for the third round . . . Former UMass receiver Victor Cruz is set to become a restricted free agent, but has said he’d like to sign a contract extension with the Giants. After two solid seasons, he stands to cash in handsomely, after making $540,000 in 2012. But GM Jerry Reese wasn’t willing to talk Saturday about any negotiations. “Really nothing to report right now with respect to that,” Reese said. “All of our contracts, guys, it’s really nothing to share with the media, so I don’t have a lot of comments about where we are with contracts.”Michael Whitmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.