Following is a question-and-answer session between Mel Kiper Jr. and Wisconsin cornerback Jamar Fletcher. A junior, Fletcher has declared for the NFL draft.
Mel Kiper Jr.: What can you bring to an NFL team?
Jamar Fletcher: A lot of excitement. I will lock down one side of the field. I will play hard for you every snap.
Kiper: Tell me about playing cornerback at Wisconsin.
Fletcher: I loved it. I played on two of the best defenses during my career. We had a lot of talent. And playing in the Big Ten, you go up against good quarterbacks and wide receivers every week. You are challenged to play your best game every Saturday.
Kiper: When was the first time you realized you could become a top-drawer cornerback at Wisconsin?
||I want to go to a team where I can go in and play right away. I want to start making a name for myself as a difference-maker. ”
||— Jamar Fletcher
Fletcher: Midway through my redshirt freshman year. You see, I was injured the first play of the season. I hurt my ankle against San Diego State, but played through the injury the entire first half. I had an interception in that game, but couldn't go in the second half, and then I missed the next two games with the ankle injury. Once I returned, I intercepted passes and proved that I could shut down receivers week after week.
Kiper: What is your greatest asset or assets?
Fletcher: I think it is my awareness of the game. My ability to anticipate and create the game-changing play. I take a great deal of pride in the mental part of the game.
Kiper: What is your biggest weakness or area you need to improve on?
Fletcher: I'm a physical player, but you can always work on become stronger.
Kiper: Favorite NFL player -- and why?
Fletcher: Walter Payton and Deion Sanders
. Walter Payton was amazing. A tremendous football player. Deion Sanders brings excitement to a defense and the entire football team.
Kiper: Because of Deion, is that the reason you wore No. 2 at Wisconsin?
Fletcher: Not necessarily. I think No. 2 is the best number. I wore it in high school as well.
Kiper: Since you can't wear No. 2 in the NFL, what number will you prefer?
Fletcher: In the NFL, probably No. 21.
Kiper: Favorite NFL team -- and why?
Fletcher: The St. Louis Rams. I'm from St. Louis and was glad to see them winning the Super Bowl two years ago. They have a lot of talented players, but need to step it up on defense.
Kiper: In five years, where do you hope to be as far as your football aspirations are concerned?
Fletcher: In the Pro Bowl at least four of my first five years. I have high expectations. I want people to look at Jamar Fletcher as "The Man." A cornerback that can't be beat.
Kiper: Biggest influence in helping you get where you are today?
Fletcher: My parents, Charles and Barbara Fletcher. They've always been there for me. They look out for me and have my best interest at heart.
Kiper: What are your thoughts about Wisconsin and head coach Barry Alvarez?
Fletcher: I love the university and the football program. The fans at Wisconsin are great. They are the best. I really love the atmosphere. Coach Alvarez is a great coach and motivator. More importantly, though, he's a great person.
Kiper: When all is said and done, how do you want people to remember Jamar Fletcher?
Fletcher: As a great cornerback. One of the best ever.
Kiper: Tell me about your high school days on the athletic field.
Fletcher: I played a lot of positions in football. I was a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, cornerback and also returned punts and kickoffs. I was a point guard on the basketball team. And in track, I ran hurdles and also participated in the relays.
Kiper: Is there a particular NFL team you would like to play for?
Fletcher: I want to go to a team where I can go in and play right away. I want to start making a name for myself as a difference-maker.
Kiper: How would you feel if you were chosen by a cold-weather team?
Fletcher: I wouldn't be affected. I've dealt with it here at Wisconsin. Plus, I'm from St. Louis.
Kiper: Tell me about your approach to the game of football.
Fletcher: I have a lot of fun playing the game. I really enjoy showcasing my skills. It's the game I've always played. I understand what it takes to perform at a high level week after week. I play the game with a great deal of intensity. I also study the game. I look at formations, tendencies of the opposition. Anything I can do to get an edge.
Kiper: What is your accurate height, weight, 40 time, and other measureables?
Fletcher: I'm 5-foot-10, 181 pounds. I plan on running in the 4.38 to 4.42 range and my vertical jump is right at 40 inches.
Kiper: Tell me about any injuries you have had to deal with throughout your football career.
Fletcher: Outside of the ankle injury early on during my redshirt freshman season, I've been at full strength throughout my career. I consider myself to be a very durable football player.
Kiper: Take me through a play, from the standpoint of what you're thinking about as a cornerback.
Fletcher: Initially, I look at the formation, then focus on the receiver, and also stare at the quarterback to let him know that I'm ready to create a big play. In press coverage, I get my hands on the receiver, trying to lock him out. Then, I'm on his hip. I'll slap him on his hands, doing anything to get on a receiver's nerves. I try to read the route. At cornerback, it's all about feel. If he's leaning on you or raises up, you can figure where he's going to go with the route. I'm always trying to anticipate what's happening, then focus on coming away with the interception whenever the situation presents itself. And when I get the chance for the interception, I don't drop passes. I have great hands. When the ball is in the air, I consider it mine.
WORD ASSOCIATION with JAMAR FLETCHER:
Football: "I love it."
University of Wisconsin: "The best."
Family: "No. 1 in my heart and in my life."
Life: "A blessing. I feel blessed to be in the position I'm in."
Losing: "I get real upset when this happens."
NFL: "A great opportunity."
Jamar Fletcher: "The best cornerback in years."
Toughest player faced: "Michigan wide receiver David Terrell. He's just like me. He goes hard on every play. He never lets up. That's exactly the way I play the game. He's also very physical. He has all the tools."
Best memory: "The first day I stepped on the University of Wisconsin campus."
Worst memory: "The falling snow when I'm walking to class."