INDIANAPOLIS -- Thursday at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine brought kickers, punters, tight ends, offensive linemen and even some quarterbacks into the media room at Lucas Oil Stadium.
And there were a handful of Broncos connections among the draft prospects.
One of them was North Carolina center Russell Bodine, who spent two seasons practicing against future Broncos first-round pick
"Well, obviously he is a great player," Bodine said of the defensive tackle. "If you play against great players in practice, that is going to make you better.”
Bodine started all 12 games for the Tar Heels in each of the past two seasons, earning All-ACC Honorable Mention in 2013.
He said he didn't have a whole lot of time to focus on Williams' rookie campaign, but from what he did see from the defensive tackle's season -- which included two sacks, five tackles for a loss and one fumble recovery -- impressed him.
"It was great to see him out there playing in his first year and having success," Bodine said. "That was awesome.”
LOOKING UP TO BRONCOS
Rice kicker Christopher Boswell, who was All-Conference USA second team in 2013, was asked whether there's an NFL kicker he tries to model his game after.
He didn't hesitate.
"A kicker that I really look up to and watch a lot is
That made watching Prater set a new NFL record this season all the sweeter.
"Oh yeah, 64 (yards)," Boswell smiled. "That's awesome. No matter where it's at, who you're playing against -- 64 yards is a long field goal."
But Boswell wasn't the only prospect to single out a current Bronco as a role model.
Boise State tackle Charles Leno said the Broncos' first-round pick in 2008 is on a pedestal for him.
“One tackle I love is our old tackle,
"He does everything right. He’s good fundamentally, he’s athletic. He does everything right at the offensive tackle position.”
JULIUS THOMAS CATCHES PROSPECTS' ATTENTION
Another popular Bronco among Thursday's prospects was tight end
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, one of the top tight ends in this year's class, has a basketball background of his own. He played for the University of Washington Huskies' basketball team in addition to his football career.
He said he hopes that will help him as he transitions to the NFL, just like it did for Thomas and other tight ends like New Orleans' Jimmy Graham.
"I met Jimmy Graham down when I was in Miami taking an unofficial visit -- I met him a while back when he was training for the draft," Seferian-Jenkins recalled. "I watched Julius Thomas, who went to Portland State and played basketball. They're great tight ends in their own right. They do a lot of good things and I can do a lot of things like them."
Fresno State tight end Marcel Jensen said Thomas' seemingly overnight success is something all of the draft prospects can aspire toward.
“I wasn’t aware of him before," Jensen said. "Then he blew up."