|02.25.12 at 9:51 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Kelvin Beachum is a guy who already knows more about the Patriots than your average college prospect.
First, the offensive lineman out of SMU had Adrian Klemm as his positional coach with the Mustangs the last three years. Klemm was New England’s second-round pick in 2000 and spent five injury-plagued seasons with the Patriots. Second, current SMU defensive coordinator Tom Mason was at Fresno State when current Pats’ offensive lineman Logan Mankins was there, and talked up Mankins’ to Beachum on a consistent basis. And third, Beachum was a college teammate of current Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore.
All this makes Beachum eminently qualified to discuss the possibility of playing in New England. He loved the opportunity to play for Klemm, who has since moved on to become the offensive line coach and running game coordinator at UCLA
‘It was wonderful. He brought the intensity,’ Beachum said of Klemm. ‘The calm, cool and collected side of things that you need to have in the game, but he also talked about seven seconds of violence, which was our motto for our offensive line. Being able to establish a violent nature for seven seconds and then be able to regain your composure then go out and do it again.’
Beachum is a 6-foot-3, 306-pound offensive lineman who played left tackle all four seasons at SMU, but figures to move to guard in the NFL. It was a move made by Mankins out of college, who became one of the best interior linemen in the league relatively quickly. While at SMU, Mason certainly gave him an idea of Mankins’ journey.
‘He talked about [Mankins] a lot. He just talked about how massive he was, how he was just a big mauler for them when he was still in college,’ Beachum said of Mason. ‘He didn’t have any tape on him, but [he talked about] the type of work ethic, the type of man he was, the type of character he had both on and off the field. He just talked about the qualities he had and what made him a good player.’
Beachum, who projects to be a late-round pick in April, can lean on his former college teammate Moore to provide him with some idea of what it takes to survive in the league as a relatively unheralded player coming out of college. Moore, who was an undrafted free agent coming out of SMU who cut by the Raiders in September, became a key member of the New England secondary over the second half of the season.
Beachum talked about some of the good times the two had as teammates.
‘Man, he was a funny guy. He always had some jokes to go along with whoever he was locking down in practice,’ Beachum said of Moore. ‘We used to call him 210. He was about 210 pounds and we called him a fat corner. But he dropped the weight. He’s done a wonderful job adapting to the NFL and is becoming a real good corner.’
Beachum said he tried his best to remain close to Moore during this past season but wasn’t always easy.
‘We stayed in contact,’ Beachum said. ‘Any time I was able to see him play — sometimes in Texas, you don’t get all the New England games — any time I was able to see him play, just shoot him a text and say, ‘Good game, bro.’ He’ll text me back and say, ‘Appreciate it, just keeping grinding.’’
|02.25.12 at 9:50 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Welcome back to Lucas Oil Stadium for the third day of the NFL scouting combine.
It’s a relatively light day for coaches and executives as far as media availability goes, but Chiefs chief Romeo Crennel will speak a little later on.
For players, it will be defensive linemen and linebackers meeting the media throughout the day. We’re especially interested in chatting with Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who seems to be a great fit for the Pats, as well as some pass-rushers.
Offensive linemen, special-teamers and tight ends will begin working out Saturday as well. Quarterbacks, receivers and running backs will work out Sunday, while the D-linemen and linebackers will go Monday. Defensive backs will wrap things up Tuesday.
Check the blog throughout the day, as we’ll generate content as quickly as possible.
|02.24.12 at 10:29 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — You don’t need to be a top quarterback out of high school in order to eventually be an NFL quarterback. In fact, you don’t even need to be a signal-caller the whole time in college to be a potential first-round pick at quarterback. Just ask Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill, who is widely considered the draft’s third-best QB and a possible top-10 pick, went to Texas A&M.
Yet after redshirting his first year, he competed for a quarterback spot and ended up third on the depth chart behind Jerrod Johnson and Stephen McGee. The team moved him to wide receiver, where he found some pretty big success.
“It was kind of a unique experience changing positions,” Tannehill said Friday. “I went to A&M as a quarterback. I redshirted as a quarterback. I went into camp my freshman year as a quarterback and was going to be third on the depth chart and they moved me out to receiver.
“I ended up having some success that day and about two days later, I was in the starting rotation at receiver. It was a quick turnaround. I was frustrated by the fact that I didn’t get to play quarterback. It’s what I always what I wanted to be. I always thought of myself as a quarterback. So I was frustrated by it, but blessed by the opportunity to be able to play another position.”
Tannehill finally got back to playing quarterback full-time as a junior, and he considers his experience at receiver as an advantage.
“Not a lot of people get to contribute in another way to help their team,” he said. “It was exciting for me to be able to do that. I learned a lot about the game, got a lot of experience. Even though it wasn’t at the quarterback position, I did get experience playing football and seeing the game out there. I learned a lot from it, and fortunately I was able to get back to where I wanted to be under center.”
Now, after throwing for 3,744 and 29 touchdowns as a senior, Tannehill, who is rehabbing a foot injury, is considered the draft’s third-best quarterback, behind Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. These days, being the third-best quarterback isn’t such a bad thing. Just look at last year. Missouri product Blaine Gabbert was the third QB taken, and he went 10th overall. The fourth quarterback went two picks later when the Vikings drafted Florida State’s Christian Ponder.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve paid a whole lot of attention to it,” Tannehill said of the trend of more QB’s being drafted early. “I’ve just tried to do everything I can personally to be the best quarterback I can be, whether it’s doing extra work for my rehab, extra work in the film room, on the board, extra work out on the field with my drops and footwork. Whatever it may be, I just want to do whatever I can to be the best quarterback.”
|02.24.12 at 4:17 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — While Robert Griffin III got a question about his unique sock collection right out of the gate — Ninja Turtles, for those of you keeping track at home — Andrew Luck got a real estate question. The Stanford quarterback, who many believe is the heir apparent in Indianapolis to Peyton Manning, was asked if he was doing any house hunting while he was in Indianapolis this week.
‘It’s a little premature for that, I think,’ Luck said with a smile.
The sight of Luck standing in The House That Peyton Manning Built and being asked about the possibility of replacing him in the Indianapolis lineup is surreal. But that’s what the Stanford product did for his session with the media that ran for 10-plus minutes at the NFL scouting combine on Friday afternoon. Luck talked about his game, the quarterbacks he admires now (a group that includes Patriots signal-caller Tom Brady) and his decision not to throw this week in Indianapolis.
But mostly, it was about Peyton.
‘I’m not too caught up in that right now. I understand that it is a possibility,’ Luck said when asked about possibly taking over for Manning. ‘Peyton was my hero growing up. He was my football hero. It’s who I modeled myself after in high school, in middle school, whenever it was. You never truly replace a guy like that, and who knows what happens? So many different things could happen, but I’m not thinking about it too much right now.
‘I understand the questions have to be asked. It’s part of it. I understand its speculation,’ Luck added. ‘In my mind, too, nothing’s happened yet. I haven’t been drafted by any team and obviously with Peyton, that’s still going on with the Colts. It’s not uncomfortable. I understand the questions have to be asked.’
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|02.24.12 at 3:41 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — If you google the name “Alshon Jeffery,” the next word that comes up on auto-complete is “fat.”
That’s not good for Jeffery, a receiver out of South Carolina who hopes to go in the first round of this year’s draft and could potentially be a perfect fit for the Patriots at either No. 27 or 31.
Jeffery’s hands and separation skills at the college level have made him a big name, but rumors about his weight (like that he had ballooned to upwards of 240 pounds) have made many wonder if he’s the next Mike Williams. Big and slow isn’t exactly a recipe for success, but Jeffery looked good Friday when he weighed in an met with the media.
“I think it was either [6-foot-2 4/8] or 6-foot-3 and 216 [pounds],” he said.
The height is well under what he was listed at in college [6-foot-4], but the 216 pound weigh-in went a long way in addressing questions about his weight. Jeffery said he weighed “like 230″ pounds last year at South Carolina, and noted that was the heaviest weight at which he’s played.
“I think that was too heavy for me,” he said. “When I get to the NFL, I have to make a better transition. I think 215, somewhere around there is better for me.”
Now that he’s proven that he isn’t fat, Jeffery has to show he isn’t slow. A good 40-yard dash should cement his first-round status. A bad one could doom him. He said he’s practiced running the 40, but hasn’t looked at his time. Jeffery hopes he can run in the 4.5 or 4.4 range.
There’s no denying that Jeffery’s 40 will be one of the most anticipated of the pre-draft process, though he still isn’t sure whether he’ll run in Indianapolis Friday or whether he’ll wait for his Pro Day. One thing he does know is that he isn’t putting as much focus on his time as the rest of the football world.
“I don’t think there’s no pressure,” he said. “I’ve just got to go out there and relax and take my time. It’s going to be what it’s going to be regardless, so that’s what I think about it.”
Jeffery’s happy to have lost the weight, as he said the whole pre-draft process has taught him better eating habits. His favorite food is lasagna, but these days, he just drinks a lot of water. The whole time that people have been wondering whether he’d have a stock-killing weigh-in, he was exercising and eating right. Is he mad that people had the wrong idea of him?
“I don’t really pay attention to any of that,” Jeffery said. “Anybody can write anything on the internet, so that’s how I think about that.”
If the Patriots do land Jeffery, it wouldn’t be the first time they spent a high pick on a highly skilled player with weight issues. It may be an apples an oranges comparison, but a player fell in the 2004 draft because of concerns over his weight, and the Pats ended his slide. His name? Vince Wilfork.
|02.24.12 at 2:47 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon was asked to describe himself at Friday at the scouting combine.
“I’m a quiet and aggressive guy off the field,” Blackmon said.
“I don’t speak much,” he said.
Instead, Blackmon lets his play do the speaking for him. As a junior, he had 121 receptions for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns. Now, he is a good candidate to be drafted by the Rams second overall.
So, as an Oklahoma State alum, how would he feel catching passes from Oklahoma legend Sam Bradford in St. Louis? Just fine.
“Sam’s a good quarterback,” he said with a smile. “I’m sure we could put our differences aside.”
At 6-foot-0, 197 pounds, Blackmon isn’t the biggest receiver in a class full of bigger bodies, but he says he plays physical enough to make up for it. A reporter asked him about comparisons to 6-foot-5 Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, and Blackmon hopes they play the same way.
“He’s a big, physical guy,” Blackmon said, “and that’s how I like to play. I’m not as big as him ‘¦ but I try to play as physical as I can.”
Blackmon won’t run the 40-yard dash due to a tender hamstring, but he says that when he does run at Oklahoma State’s pro day, he’ll be faster than people expect. He says he’s run in the 4.5 and 4.4 range. He isn’t known for his speed, so if he has it, that will be a plus.
The question may become whether the Rams opt for help at receiver or the line with USC left tackle Matt Kalil. Blackmon hopes to leave them with an easy choice.
|02.24.12 at 2:35 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III has been rocking crazy socks since he was a sophomore in high school.
“I’ve got on Ninja Turtles on today,” Griffin said, pulling up his pant leg to reveal his socks.
Ranked as this draft’s second-best quarterback, Griffin won’t be knocking anybody’s socks off this weekend at the combine. He’s chosen not to throw, a decision he made based on the unfamiliarity he has with the receivers with whom he’d be working.
Yet despite his decision not to throw, the Heisman winner wants everyone that he will throw — and throw often — in the NFL.
“I think there’s just a misconception that comes with being a dual-threat quarterback that you run first and throw second,” he said. “I think I’ve proven that I’m throw-first and then will run if I need to.”
In his redshirt junior year, Griffin amassed 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns in the air and 699 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. He can obviously excel with his feet, but what about when he gets to the next level? Successful college scrambling quarterbacks have had a harder time relying on their feet in the NFL. Luckily for Griffin, he doesn’t think of himself that way.
“I’m a quarterback, so I’ve just got the throw the ball,” he said. “Running’s extra.”
Griffin measured in at 6-foot-2 3/8 and 223 pounds, and we have him projected to go fourth overall to the Browns in our mock draft. He said he believes he is the best quarterback in the draft, and that though he has lots of respect for Stanford’s Andrew Luck, he wants to be the top pick. He hasn’t heard from the Colts yet, but he expects to.
“As competitors, we both want to be the best. Whether I go No. 1 or not, it’s not going to change who I am, it’s not going to change my confidence. But I’d be a fool to say I don’t want to go No. 1 in the draft.”
The 22-year-old said he looks forward to explaining Baylor’s offense to the NFL teams. He played out of the shotgun a lot, but feels he’s just fine under center.
“[I want to show them] that our offense isn’t simple, that it’s not the traditional spread, where we’re in shotgun all the time’¦ although we are in shotgun a lot. So was Tom Brady and Eli Manning in the Super Bowl, but that’s beside the point,” he said with a grin. “Just that it’s not a simple offense. I’m not going to try to make it seem difficult, but I’ll explain it to them.”