INDIANAPOLIS -- They are identical twins, but one of them has already played on a Super Bowl team (albeit missing the big game with an injury), and the other, who replaces his brother at center at Florida, is just now gearing up for a trip to the first round of the draft. When the Pittsburgh Steelers took center Maurkice Pouncey(notes) with the 18th overall pick in the first round of the 2010 draft, the rookie greatly helped a line that had been in flux for a number of years.
Brother Mike moved from guard to center, taking his lumps in the 2010 opener with a bunch of bad snaps against Miami of Ohio. Over the season, he got the hang of his new positions, enjoying it enough to say at the scouting combine that he'd rather be drafted as a center.
Mike may actually be a better guard at the next level, but the sense of competition between brothers may be part of the reason that Mike wants to match his brother in the NFL, and that sense was palatable when he was on the podium at the scouting combine.
"I've got to be drafted higher than Maurkice -- 18th or better," Mike said.
When asked what would happen if he wasn't, his message was clear. "I'd never hear the end of it. I want to beat him at everything. We compete with each other with anything we do. I have to get into camp and I have to earn a starting spot and I have to play great like he did."
More seriously, Mike talked about the great relationship between the two brothers, and how well Maurkice fit into the NFL right away. "He really did [the] same thing he did in college, he was dominant in college and he played great in the NFL," Mike said. "It's one year. He's working hard in the offseason so he can go out and do the same thing next season.
"He played great. It only shows what both of us can do. I think it can only help, but they're not going to draft me because he played good."
Of course, now that Mike is undergoing the same evaluation process his brother went through last season, the comparisons come much more into focus. According to Mike, the reads are pretty even for the most part. "They basically said we look the same on film, some of the teams even said I look better."
The question is whether he'll be a center or guard at the next level. He probably won't be on the board when the Steelers select with the 31st overall pick - the dream of a two-Pouncey line would likely have to be facilitated by a trade up - but in a general sense, Mike seems to be a bit more of a pure road-grader (his physical dominance against the best defensive linemen is consistent on tape), while Maurkice has more experience at a position where keeping everything in front of you is a point of supreme importance.
Mike categorized his decision to skip the Senior Bowl as a "business decision" with his advisors, which was unfortunate in that he could have shown his range at center on a day-to-day basis. Still, Mike is convinced that center is the position for him.
"I knew all the line calls, it was just tough after the first game," Puncey said of his ability to call a game at the line as most centers have to. "I went out and had a bad game. I felt like crap, I told myself when I left the locker room I'd never play like that again. Since that game I had a great season."
When asked how best to compare the two brothers overall, Mike put it succinctly. "There's nothing negative about either one of us. On the field we play hard, off the field we're lovable guys and people love being around us.
"We're the total package."