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A.J. Green: ‘I want to be mentioned with the best’

02.25.11 at 1:17 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — What are things you look for in a No. 1 receiver. Size? Experience in a pro-style offense? Experience playing with Matthew Stafford? One guy has all three.

Though he was introduced here at Lucas Oil Stadium as Adriel (his real name) and A.C. (Mario Lopez‘ character’s name on Saved by the Bell), Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green wants his name to be one people remember at the next level.

“I’m tall, I’m big and I’m physical,” the 6-foot-4 4/8, 211-pound top-five prospect said Friday.

“I’m not going to settle for being an average receiver. …I want to be mentioned with the best.”

Green is good friends with Alabama receiver Julio Jones, as the two of them prepared for the combine at Athletes Performance Institute. He said that despite the two of them battling to be the first receiver off the board (Jones is widely considered to be the second-best receiver prospect in the draft), they have a good relationship and that “it doesn’t really matter” which one goes first.

The best answer of Green’s presser came when a reporter asked him for a prediction of his 40-yard-dash time.

“Y’all [are] going to see when I run it,” he said with a grin.

Green had 848 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in his junior year at Georgia. His best season was his freshman year in 2008, when he had 963 receiving yards and eight touchdowns playing with Stafford.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, A.J. Green,

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff pitches Nick Caserio as a possible GM

02.25.11 at 12:46 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff is one of a handful of ex-Patriots front office men who have moved on from Foxboro to run their own teams, a group that includes Scott Pioli. Friday morning at the NFL scouting combine, I asked Dimitroff if Nick Caserio ‘€” the Patriots current director of player personnel and former front office mate of Dimitroff ‘€” could be the next great front office star to leave Foxboro and take control of his own franchise sometime soon.

Caserio has been with the Patriots in several capacities over the years, both as a personnel guy and as a coach, and his background would certainly lead you to believe that he might be the next guy to follow in the footsteps of Pioli and Dimitroff. Dimitroff said he’€™s going to get some grief from Patriots coach Bill Belichick, but he certainly sounded like someone who would endorse the idea of Caserio as a GM.

‘€œNick Caserio’€™s a fine man,’€ Dimitroff said. ‘€œHe’€™s a very intelligent guy. He’€™s a tireless worker. I don’€™t know who works harder than him in the National Football League. He’€™s won many hats in New England, Bill’€™s asked him to do quite a bit, not only on the personnel side, but on the coaching side. You talk about a well-rounded individual. I hope coach Belichick isn’€™t upset with me that I’€™m pitching Nick Caserio, but I think Nick is a top-notch personnel man.’€

Dimitroff also noted that he wasn’€™t surprised that the Patriots have been able to pull together six picks in the first three rounds ‘€” despite the fact that New England finished 14-2 last season.

‘€œBill Belichick and his regime never cease to surprise me,’€ said Dimitroff with a smile.

Read More: Bill Belichick, NFL scouting combine, Nick Caserio, Scott Pioli

Leonard Hankerson feels he’s living up to The U’s standard

02.25.11 at 12:06 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Everyone knows that “The U” sends quality receivers to the NFL. Leonard Hankerson just hopes he’s the next one.

From guys in the past like Michael Irvine, to current NFL players like Andre Johnson, Devin Hester, and Reggie Wayne, Hankerson has a lot to live up to. For a guy who broke Irvin’s single-season touchdown record last season, he feels he’s doing the job thus far.

“Being able to have my name mentioned with the great receivers that came out of the University of Miami, comes from working hard, doing what you’ve got to do off the field, and on the field, in the weight room, film room,” he said Friday. “I feel like I’m living up to that dream.”

Hankerson isn’t the quickest guy, but he has decent size and very good hands. His favorite Miami receiver is Johnson, who has become one of the best receivers in the NFL since the Texans chose him third overall in 2003.

“Big receiver, big physical receiver, fast,” Hankerson said. “I love his game.”

For more of a look at Hankerson, check out our entry on him in the “Potential Patriots” series.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Leonard Hankerson, NFL Combine,

Packers GM Ted Thompson has a pleasant problem

02.25.11 at 11:49 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” Green Bay GM Ted Thompson has the sort of problem that 31 other general managers would love to have.

Thompson and the Packers are getting a later start on offseason prep work because of their win over the Steelers in Super Bowl XLVI. Logistical work, scouting and long-term planning are all offseason priorities, and Green Bay is getting a later start than the rest of their brethren because they went later into the season than any team other than Pittsburgh.

But as Thompson said Friday morning at the NFL scouting combine, that’s a “good complication.”

“We won’t change anything ‘€” we kind of go about our business the way we do it,” Thompson said when asked about changes to offseason priorities because of the lack of time off. “It makes it a little more complicated, because we have some catching up to do, because normally we start [offseason] preparations even before the Super Bowl game. It’s a good complication to have. We’ll muddle through somehow.

“Winning comes with some complications ‘€” we’ll see how we handle success. We’ll see how we handle the fact that we are the reigning world champions. It won’t be an easy task ‘€” the NFL is a very hard business, as I’ve said over and over. It doesn’t make us any more hungry. We’re anxious to take on this challenge.”

Green Bay’s team-building approach the last couple of seasons has been to put the focus on the draft, and use free agency as an almost ancillary part of the routine ‘€” in Super Bowl XLVI, all of the Packers’ starting offensive players were drafted by Green Bay, while seven of the Packers’ starting defensive players either were drafted by the Packers or signed by the team out of college as undrafted free agents.

Thompson, who learned at the foot of former Packers GM Ron Wolf, is confident that things won’t change.

“He believed in that you build the core of your team around the draft,” Thompson said. “Certainly, free agency is another avenue, but I think you do that a little bit more selectively. That’s just the way we were taught.”

Read More: NFL scouting combine, Packers, Ron Wolf, Ted Thompson

Greg Little: Agent’s party ‘will haunt me forever’

02.25.11 at 11:43 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — We just finished up talking to receiver Greg Little, though he’s probably known more for being in the improper benefits scandal at UNC than for his play off to field. Spend one minute — let alone 10 — with him and there’s only one thought that comes to mind.

This kid got in trouble?

Little attended the party in South Beach that set off a major investigation into UNC and led to suspensions for multiple players and the resignation of defensive line coach John Blake. The party took place at agent Gary Wichard‘s house, and Little, as well as a group that included teammates Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin, all faced NCAA discipline. Little, who along with  was suspended for the entire season, yet Friday, he came off unmistakably as a high-character player.

Rather than playing the “it’s in the past” card ,Little, who put pictures online from the party, was very sincere and remorseful.

“It was tough to know that essentially that I started the whole investigation, and that was one of the things that was very bearing and vey hard to deal with,” he said. “It was something that will haunt me forever, to know that my team could have won a national championship if I played along with them.”

Little, who played behind Brandon Tate early in his UNC career, spent the season training at a high school in Durham, N.C, with MMA fighter Wayne Huner.

“It was the most unorthodox training I’ve ever done,” Little said, “but it also put me in the best shape of my life.”

That bring Little to Indianapolis and the NFL combine. The 6-foot-2 4/8, 231-pounder former running back said he doesn’t feel extra pressure to perform at the combine, but if he is as honest with teams as he was with the media, he’ll go a long ways at wiping away the “character issues” red flag. He was asked point blank whether he knew that what he was doing was wrong, and he had no problem confirming it and lamenting his thinking that he might not get in trouble.

“I know what I was doing was wrong,” he said. “For me to be that naiive or ignorant about was stupid on my part.

“Without saying this the wrong way, I think it was one of the best thing that every happened to me in my life. It was a very pivotal point, and a defining moment in my life, where I said, ‘hey, this is not who you are. This is something you’ve done. You’ve made a mistake and have to move on.’ That’s what I’m doing.”

UNC will let him participate in their Pro Day on March 30.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Greg Little, NFL Combine, Robert Quinn

Up today: QB, RB, WR

02.25.11 at 10:29 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — We’re back here at Lucas Oil Stadium, where Friday promises to flash a little more pizzazz than the interesting (albeit lineman-laden) first day. Quarterbacks (Cam Newton!), running backs (Mark Ingram!), and wide receivers will talk today. We’ll also keep you filled in on what the coaches and executives around the league are saying.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Newton, Mark Ingram,

Report: Agent calls Pats’ treatment of Mankins a ‘travesty’

02.24.11 at 10:12 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Frank Bauer, the agent for Patriots guard Logan Mankins, told the Boston Globe Thursday that he is unhappy with the current state of affairs between his client and the team. The Pats recently franchised Mankins, who has been a three-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro.

“One of the best players on your football team, that the coaching staff respects ‘€“ it’€™s a travesty what they’€™ve done with this player,’€ Bauer said. “(A new deal) should have been done a long time ago. It could have been done a long time ago. But it got stopped. And right now we’€™re not talking. And they tagged him.’€

The Pats chose Mankins with the 32nd overall pick of the 2005 draft. He sat out the first eight games of last season before signing his tender as a restricted free agent on Nov. 2.

Read More: Logan Mankins,
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