INDIANAPOLIS – The media work room is fairly quiet right now, but that will soon change. Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers will be arriving in the room shortly and things should pick up fast.
As always, stay tuned to our blog for live combine updates. We covered head coach Jim Harbaugh’s return to Indianapolis yesterday, his relationship with brother John Harbaugh as well as general manager Trent Baalke’s press conference.
11:00 AM Update
No sign of players during the first hour. They’re currently getting measured and weighed before meeting with the media. As of now, it’s only been coaches and general managers at the podiums. Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith talked about his new contract extension, and was followed by St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney who gets bonus points for donning a St. Louis Cardinals t-shirt during his press conference. (Note: I’m not a Cards fan by any means, just thought it was a nice gesture being that it’s spring training time of the year).
Executive V.P., General Manager & Director of Football Operations (almost out of breath writing that) Ted Thompson of the World Champion Green Bay Packers took the podium next. With so much of the Packers talent being from the draft, Thompson’s words are always key during this time of the year.
Because of their playoff run and subsequent Super Bowl celebrations, Thompson said it makes things a little different for he and his staff to get ready for the draft. “We have some catching up to do,” he said. Thompson added that his overall theory is to build the majority of his team through the draft.
An interesting item that came from his press conference was centered on the running back position. The Packers were hurt with the loss of Ryan Grant to injured reserve and utilized a running back by committee approach to win games along the way to winning the Lombardi trophy. Asked if he would ever downgrade a running back prospect out of the first round because of the violent nature of the position, Thompson scoffed at the notion. He’s willing to draft a running back in the first round if that’s what his board dictates. “We’ve never looked at the (running back) position like we can’t do that,” he said.
As for the toughest part of selecting last in the first round?
“The first hours will be excruciating,” Thompson said. “We’ll be watching a lot of talented players get drafted.”
11:30 AM Update
Fort Valley State wide receiver/return specialist Ricardo Lockette made waves earlier this week when he said he plans on running the fastest 40-yard dash in combine history. And on Friday, he still has the goal in mind. I asked Lockette what it would mean to run the best 40 time in combine history.
“It would mean the world to me,” he said. “A small school guy coming from a small town to probably seeing my face on every newspaper and being the talk of every sports talk radio the next morning – it would be a be a dream come true.”
But there’s more to Lockette’s game.
“Definitely route running and ball catching ability. I think I have both and I look forward to showing that as well. More importantly than the 40, they all know I can run.”
1:00 PM Update
Some of the bigger names have made the rounds in recent moments including TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green. Dalton was asked about his 1,300 career college attempts and how that bodes well for him entering the pro ranks. “It’s experience,” Dalton said. “I got to play in a lot of ball games and I feel like with my time, I was put in every situation. Hopefully teams will see that I played in a lot of games and I won a lot of them.”
Green said he doesn’t want to be an average receiver, his goals are to become one of the game’s greatest pass catchers. Helping his cause is the conference where he played. Green said the Southeastern Conference prepared him best for the NFL. “Week in and week out it’s a grind,” he said. “There’s no easy game in the SEC. I feel like that’s going to prepare me for the next level, just to compete every week.”
2:00 PM Update
Poor Kyle Rudolph. Well, he’s not someone to pity, but his podium session took awhile to get going. That’s because most reporters had flocked over to Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert (who many say is the top quarterback prospect). Rudolph eventually was hit up with questions, but initially it was bad timing for the Notre Dame tight end.
Gabbert fielded many questions about his role in the Missouri’s spread offense. Gabbert cited numerous quarterbacks in the NFL (like Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy) who came from spread offenses. Gabbert, a junior, said he’s close to finishing his degree in finance, but the opportunity to come out was “too good to pass up.” He admitted that he assessed the needs of the teams drafting at the top half of the draft and estimated that 10 of 15 teams could potentially be in need of quarterback help. Gabbert is selling himself to teams as a hard worker. “There’s no question, as soon as I’m drafted I’m going to be working to be a starting quarterback.” Gabbert said he was raised to be a hard worker and it won’t change once he reaches the NFL.
3:00 PM Update
It’s the fast and the furious, minus Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. Players are coming in and out of the room, left and right. We caught up with a number of prospects, Hawaii wide receiver Greg Salas and Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor to name a few. Taylor had plenty of good things to say about Coach Jim Harbaugh after competing against him in the Orange Bowl. Taylor said Harbaugh’s Stanford team ran plays in the second half they didn’t show on film all season. Taylor would like to play for Harbaugh some day or any NFL coach for that matter.
4:00 PM Update
In hair news, Stanford fullback Owen Marecic shaved off his signature ‘do. “I feel three years younger,” he joked. The Stanford product looks a little different, but it still quite recognizable. He donated the locks to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients. Speaking of recognizable, Florida lineman Mike Pouncey said he was constantly asked by Steelers fans to play for his injured twin brother Maurkice at Super Bowl 45. “I didn’t want to mess up,” joked Pouncey, who said he blocks better in open spaces than his Pro Bowl brother.
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