Painter waits his turn at Virginia Tech, and now during NFL draft week

Vinston Painter hopes NFL teams share his father's opinion when it comes to Painter's possible longevity in a football uniform.

After starting just one season at right tackle for Virginia Tech, Painter believes he has more football left in his chiseled 6-foot-4, 306-pound frame than guys that have absorbed far more punishment in their careers. That's just one of the characteristics Painter is playing up as an advantage heading into the NFL draft, which begins Thursday with the first round, continues Friday with the second and third rounds, and concludes Saturday with the fourth through seven rounds.

"I'll put it to you the way my dad put it," said Painter, a graduate of Maury High in Norfolk. "It's like they're buying a car, and they're looking at me like, 'This car doesn't have a lot of mileage on it.' It's like buying a brand, spanking new car that hasn't moved an inch."

The analogy is only partially accurate.

It's true Painter hasn't been pounded for miles and miles on a football field, but to say he hasn't moved an inch simply isn't true. He's moved all over both lines of scrimmage, which he believes is a big reason why he was such a late bloomer.

Now, there's a chance he could end up being the earliest former Virginia or Virginia Tech player selected in this year's draft. Painter is projected by nfldraftscout.com to be a fourth-round pick, while NFL.com predicts he'll go in the fifth round.

Former U.Va. offensive tackle Oday Aboushi is projected to be a fourth- or fifth-round pick by nfldraftscout.com, and a fifth-round pick by NFL.com. Former Tech wide receivers Corey Fuller and Marcus Davis are also looked upon as likely draft picks by both websites.

Fuller is predicted to go in the fifth or sixth round by nfldraftscout.com, and the sixth round by NFL.com. Davis could go in the sixth round, according to nfldraftscout.com, while NFL.com thinks he might be chosen in the seventh round. Former Tech offensive tackle Nick Becton also could sneak into the draft as a seventh-round pick, according to nfldraftscout.com.

Of course, former U.Va. running back Perry Jones, tight end Colter Phillips, defensive end Ausar Walcott and linebackers LaRoy Reynolds and Steve Greer are hopeful to get a surprise call from an NFL team during the draft. The same goes for former Tech linebackers Bruce Taylor and Alonzo Tweedy, offensive lineman Michael Via and wide receiver Dyrell Roberts, a Smithfield High graduate. They also could be picked up as undrafted free agents.

Given how his career started and progressed for four years at Tech, Painter's rise up the draft board is surprising. After coming to Tech in 2008 considered by many recruiting analysts to be either one of the nation's top five offensive guard prospects or top 25 offensive tackles, Painter opened his career as a Hokie at defensive tackle.

He was moved to right guard during spring practice in '09, and then shifted to right tackle during spring practice a year later. A dislocated left knee that caused him to miss a portion of spring practice and the spring game in '10 didn't help his maturation as a player.

Though he played just 91 offensive snaps in his first three seasons combined, Painter still had a reputation for being perhaps the strongest player on the team. He finally got his chance to start last season when Tech had a vacancy at right tackle after the departure of four-year starter Blake DeChristopher.

Painter turned enough heads to get invited in February to the NFL combine along with Fuller, Davis and Becton. When Painter sat down to be interviewed by NFL teams at the combine, he couldn't escape getting asked why he hadn't played much in his college career.

"That was definitely a topic that kept coming up," Painter said. "They kept asking, 'Why haven't you been playing?' Nobody could figure it out

"With me being such a raw player, all the moving around kind of hindered my development a little bit. … It made it tougher for me to learn."

Painter made the most of his NFL combine experience. Spending two months in Scottsdale, Ariz., prior to the combine at an offensive lineman-focused training facility run by former NFL All-Pro center/guard LeCharles Bentley helped Painter put on 12 pounds of muscle.

At the combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.95 seconds (fourth among offensive linemen), logged 30 1/2 inches in the vertical jump (also fourth among offensive linemen), bench pressed 225 pounds 32 times (fifth among offensive linemen) and ran the 20-yard shuttle in 4.56 seconds (sixth among offensive linemen).

After watching the first round Thursday, Painter plans to spend Friday and Saturday fishing with his cell phone close to him. If the game has taught him anything, it's how to be patient.

"I can't call it excitement, I can't call it nervousness, I don't know what it is," Painter said. "I'm just ready to play. I'm just ready to know where my next job is going to be so I can go in there and compete."