2018 NFL Scouting Combine: Day 1 News & Notes
Before the on-field fireworks begin, the interview process is currently taking place in Indianapolis for the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. Whether it’s coaches, general managers or high-profile prospects, all notable personnel will stand in front of media fielding questions on Wednesday and Thursday.
As the heralded head coaches received questions from the press conference lectern, players begin the measurements process.
Jon Gruden embraced his “old fashioned” mentality when addressing the media on Wednesday. Expressing his candid feelings on the analytical side of the game, Gruden wants to stick to the way he coached when he won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay in 2003.
“I’m trying to bring the game back to 1998. I’m not going to rely on GPS and all that modern technology. The old-fashioned way is the good way. I will certainly have some people that are professionals that can help me from that regard, but I still think doing things the old-fashioned way is a good way. We’re going to try to lean the needle that way a little bit.”
Though the thought of this has been spun around in many different directions in the past few hours, he did not dismiss the impact that analytics have on the game. He highlighted the idea of it but doesn’t want the data to be the be-all and end-all of how the game is run. I would think most coaches in the league carry the same approach.
Having to go through the rigors of coaching up a rookie quarterback again for the Browns is something Hue Jackson doesn’t want to deal with in 2018. When asked about the idea of that, he was not on board.
“(On starting a rookie quarterback again) I would hope not…I would hope there’s other things. There are going to be other opportunities, as we all know. We have free agency right upon us as well. We also have opportunities of the quarterbacks that are on our football team right now. Again, we’ve just got to see how it all fits as we move forward.”
A popular mock draft pick at No. 1 is USC quarterback Sam Darnold. As the news broke yesterday morning, Darnold is opting to not to throw in Indianapolis.
“We wish he would throw. We would like to see him throw. But at the same time, we have an opportunity to watch him do those things. [Him not throwing] is not going to hinder us making a decision about what kind of player he is for our football team.” (92.3 The Fan, CBS Cleveland affiliate)
Though Ryan Tannehill is expected to make a full recovery and return as Miami’s man under center in the near future, head coach Adam Gase didn’t tend to want to elaborate on picking a quarterback at Pick 11.
To no surprise, John Elway was transparent in his news conference. With reports floating in the media about CJ Anderson and Aqib Talib being cut, Elway didn’t elaborate much on the process, as expected. He was more candid on the quarterback situation and trading out of the fifth spot in the draft if a deal is sweet enough.
"Life is too short to rebuild in the NFL. I think we are going to explore all options in free agency and see where that goes. Obviously, we've got the fifth pick in the draft too, so that will all play into it. We’ll continue to look at all the options out there when it comes to quarterback. We’ll be open for business on the fifth pick depending on how things fall.” (quotes and comments drawn from Kevin Patra, Around the NFL)
First-year head coach Matt Patricia retrieved questions regarding the defensive alignment he plans to run in Detroit. Running a multiple style of defense at his former employer, Patricia looks to embody that same role in 2018 as the headman.
“90 percent of defenses today are sub-packages…Start in the middle and work out. You always want to be strong in the middle of your defense. So, anybody who plays through the core, whether it’s linebackers or safeties, those guys are critically important to what you’re trying to do, and I think that was one thing we were able to do consistently over the years in New England.” (Detroit Lions official site)
New Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich was immediately hit with a multitude of Andrew Luck questions, to no surprise, when he arrived for his news conference. With some surprise, Reich stated that Luck has yet to throw the football. He added and said Luck will be with the team on April 2 but would not further an update on Luck’s situation. (Comments gathered from Jim Wyatt, Titans Online)
About the players...
- The first group of participants on Friday consists of offensive linemen and running backs. Both position groups weighed in Wednesday morning. The first running back that will be picked, Saquon Barkley, weighed in at 230 pounds and an even 6-foot. Barkley is currently the heaviest true running back in Indianapolis.
- After not being able to put in a full week for the Senior Bowl by only participating in the measurement process, West Georgia left tackle Desmond Harrison left many underwhelmed when stepping off the scale at a thin 279 pounds. He ran his mark up to 292 pounds this week and will continue to add the desired weight to be featured as a top 100 pick.
- One of the top prospects in the class, Notre Dame offensive guard Quenton Nelson continues to impress even if it’s just through the measurement process. Nelson is officially listed at 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds drawing similar size to the tackle average from last year’s combine (6-foot-6, 312). For comparison purposes, Nelson sports the same arm length as 2017 first round pick Ryan Ramczyk at 33.75 inches. The top two guards selected in last year’s draft, Dan Feeney (33.4) and Forrest Lamp (32.25), fall short of Nelson’s overall length.
- Orlando Brown’s length is the first attribute to pop off film and now sheer numbers can accompany his giantesque stature. The Oklahoma left tackle stands in at a hair under 6-foot-8 (6077) while carrying 345 pounds. His arm length at 35 inches gives his wingspan an impressive 85 1/8-inch measurement. Kolton Miller, another top tackle target, impressed from a measurement standpoint when surpassing the 6-foot-8 mark and weighing in at 309 pounds. The UCLA tackle shared the biggest hand measurements of the day at 10.75 inches with Geron Christian, Louisville, and Tyrell Crosby, Oregon.
Other news around the league…
- The New York Jets cut ties with defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Jets released Wilkerson two years into a five-year, $86 million contract.
- The Carolina Panthers released Jonathan Stewart. The former first round pick in 2008 leads the franchise with 7,318 career rushing yards.
- Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert says Ryan Shazier will not be playing in the 2018 season. Shazier is rehabbing from a spinal injury suffered against Cincinnati in December.
- Mike Glennon and Willie Young will be released according to Chicago general manager Ryan Pace.
- Atlanta will pick up Vic Beasley’s fifth-year contract