About the only thing certain in this weekend's upcoming NFL draft for former Wisconsin linebacker Mark Zalewski is that anything can happen.
He could be selected as high as the third or fourth round or not drafted at all, and he's been hearing this discrepancy from scouts and coaches alike for months.
"It's hard to tell," said Zalewski in a phone interview of where he might end up at the conclusion of this weekend's draft. "It's like every team has their own feeling in what kind of player they want and what kind of player they're looking for.
"So I've heard a lot of good things, but some bad things as well," Zalewski added. "It's just so hard to tell when you've got 32 different opinions on everything."
According to Rivals.com, Zalewski's positive qualities include both physical and mental toughness, good instincts and quickness to close on the defender.
However, marginal mobility, change-of-direction speed and average size, coupled with limited growth potential, may prevent Zalewski from being drafted. This is something that he and his agent, Tim Valentyn of Murphy Desmond, S.C., both believe would be disconcerting.
"I definitely think I should [get drafted]," Zalewski said. "Just watching film and just comparing myself to everyone else that I saw from this year, I thought I played comparable to almost everybody."
Valentyn added, "Mark competes on every play, and that is a quality that cannot be taught."
Should Zalewski remain undrafted at the conclusion of this weekend's selection process, there's still an opportunity for him to sign on with a team as a free agent.
But what it will come down to this weekend isn't where the Internet sites rate Zalewski, or even what he and his agent believe. Instead, it's where teams' needs are in the later rounds, and what player it thinks is the best fit.
If Zalewski's the player a team wants, then so be it. If not, he says, there's nothing he can do about it.
Nevertheless, the entire process remains nerve-wracking.
"It's just been a stressful time," Zalewski said. "It's hard to not know where you're going to live or where you're going — you're just trying to make a team, and it's pretty stressful. I really just can't wait until after this weekend to really kind of solidify where I'm going to be at and the chance I have in front of me."
In the meantime, Zalewski will continue to work out on his own, maybe do a little fishing and ultimately just sit back, hoping for the best.