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Saturday at the combine: All the pass-rushers the Patriots might not draft

02.25.12 at 9:50 am ET
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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.

Read More: 2012 combine, 2012 NFL Draft,

Ryan Tannehill: From QB to receiver to QB to NFL QB

02.24.12 at 10:29 pm ET
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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.”

Read More: 2012 combine, 2012 NFL Draft, Ryan Tannehill,

Andrew Luck isn’t house-hunting in Indianapolis just yet

02.24.12 at 4:17 pm ET
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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.

‘€œIt’€™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.

‘€œI’€™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. ‘€œPeyton 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.

‘€œI understand the questions have to be asked. It’€™s part of it. I understand its speculation,’€ Luck added. ‘€œIn 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.’€
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 combine, aaron rodgers, Andrew Luck, Clyde Christensen

Alshon Jeffery isn’t fat, but is he slow?

02.24.12 at 3:41 pm ET
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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.

Read More: 2012 combine, 2012 NFL Draft, alshon jeffery,

Justin Blackmon happy to put college rivalry aside to play with Sam Bradford

02.24.12 at 2:47 pm ET
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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.

Read More: 2012 combine, 2012 NFL Draft, Justin Blackmon,

Robert Griffin III insists he’s a passer first, hopes Colts don’t pass first

02.24.12 at 2:35 pm ET
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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.”

Read More: 2012 combine, 2012 NFL Draft, Robert Griffin III,

Michael Floyd out to prove he’s a changed man

02.24.12 at 1:30 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL combine is a time for prospects to answer questions. They run the 40-yard dash to answer questions about speed, and they bench to answer questions about strength. Yet the hardest questions are the ones they can’t answer on the field or in the weight room.

Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd knows exactly what that’s like, as he just finished meeting with the media. The vast majority of the questions asked were about his alcoholism, as the star receiver was arrested three times for alcohol-related incidents while in college. The most recent one came last March, when he was arrested for driving under the influence and suspended from the team before eventually being reinstated by coach Brian Kelly.

“I’m comfortable in the position to answer anything. It’s just about answering the questions and moving forward,” Floyd said Friday.

So what has Floyd told teams that have asked?

“That you grow from it, that it’s behind you, that it’s a mistake that happened in the past and that I’m moving forward,” he said.

Kelly made Floyd take classes designed for students with alcohol problems, and Floyd feels they’ve paid off. When NFL teams see him, he wants them to see a first-round receiver, and not just another player with character issues.

“I think I’ve grown a lot,” Floyd said. “Coming to the NFL now, I think you do have to mature a great deal, because you can get behind in a lot of things. ‘€¦ This is a professional [league], and you’ve got to act like a professional.”

On the field, Floyd is perhaps the third-best receiving prospect in the draft behind Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon and Baylor’s Kendall Wright. His 37 touchdown receptions are the most in Notre Dame history, and has good size at 6-foot-2 and 220. He also has big hands and experience in a pro style offense from when Charlie Weis was there.

“Pro style offense is a lot different from [that of] coach Kelly being in the spread,” he said. “Being in this position now, going to the NFL, I think coach Weis is more into the NFL schemes and stuff like that. It’s good that I learned both of them and I have a little bit of experience in both.”

Read More: 2012 combine, 2012 NFL Draft, Michael Floyd,
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