Switching it up today, post-combine. Handing off five of the Scouting Combine thoughts to Mike Mayock, who spoke with me off the NFL Network set Sunday afternoon:
1. "I think Andrew Luck is more athletic than people will ever give him credit for. When you compare his numbers this year to Cam Newton's numbers last year, they're almost identical. We all gushed about the athlete Cam was, but we don't with Luck, whose athleticism is underrated. Whereas Robert Griffin's pocket awareness is underrated also. It's an interesting juxtaposition between those two guys. We kind of want to push them into categories we're comfortable with, but they're both better than we think across the board.''
2. "I think I understand why the highly rated quarterbacks don't want to throw here. They want to throw to their own receivers, who run the precise routes, and they don't want to look bad throwing to guys they haven't thrown to before. But last year Cam Newton threw, and he didn't throw very well, but he wasn't afraid to come out and rip it.
"Why don't you come out here, in front of 32 teams, in front of all the decision-makers, in an apples-to-apples comparison, when you're going to blow people away anyway. Why wouldn't you do that? At the end of the day, you ought to tell your agent, 'No, I'm going to compete,' and go out there and throw the ball. Like Calvin Johnson said a few years ago when he threw on sneakers here and went out and competed.''
3. "I think the trend of the big-bodied receivers we're seeing in the league has to do with the ability of teams to throw the back-shoulder fade. And more and more, we like the big-bodied wide receivers so they can shield the ball from the cornerbacks. Here, Michael Floyd of Notre Dame just really dotted the 'I' with his performance. He had a great day. And the kid out of Georgia Tech, Stephen Hill, there was a quiet buzz about him coming in here. I heard, 'Watch out for this kid.' He had only 28 receptions in an option offense at Georgia Tech, but averaged almost 30 yards a reception. Unofficially, we had him at 4.3 flat, and I think teams are going to leave here saying, 'We have got to figure this kid out.' How high can you go get this guy? He's thrown his hat in the ring.''
4. "I think you have to be careful about some of these weights. Alshon Jeffery, the South Carolina wide receiver, is supposed to be 6-4, 230, and he's 219, and guys like him are trying to cut their weight to run faster. What's their playing weight going to be when you draft 'em? If you're going to play at 230, I want you 230 here so I can get a true speed of what you'll be when you play.''
5. "I think the tight-end class is a bad class. And that's not good, given that everyone is looking for the next Gronkowski and Hernandez. I don't have a tight end with a first-round grade.''
1. I think I have never heard -- not once -- on draft day any team executive or coach say they didn't pick a player because he didn't work out at the combine. So while I respect Mike Mayock very much and understand the frustration of football people that every player on hand won't do every drill and football thing he's asked to do, I can't get remotely fired up about it.
2. I think, also, I have no problem with the league trying to make combine drills like the 40-yard dash more interesting by having two players stand next to each other and race instead of having each player run alone. Who cares? Now that the league is going to try to make combine drills more palatable for the TV audience, the only way I'd fret about it is if the choreography affected the on-field performance markedly. I don't see how showing players competing will do that.
3. I think when I went to Indy and looked forward to seeing Justin Blackmon, I thought I was going to see someone bigger than he is. I thought I'd see a slightly smaller Calvin Johnson, from having watched enough highlights of Blackmon. But what I saw is more Brandon Lloyd than Calvin Johnson. Seems like a very good kid, and a good player certainly. And as a couple of NFL people told me over the weekend, he plays big. Understood. If I were about to make him the fourth or fifth pick in the draft, I'd like a guy more imposing than an eighth of an inch shorter than 6-1 and who weighs 207 pounds.
4. I think whoever takes Janoris Jenkins, the former Florida cornerback who finished his career at North Alabama, is going to have some sleepless nights. He's 23. He's a top talent, and likely will go in the first round. He's also been arrested three times, once for a bar fight and twice for marijuana possession. He has four children three or younger (Janoris Jr., Legend, Janorian and Paris) by three different mothers. "I've made a few mistakes and I've learned from them,'' he said at the combine. Question is, who will take a shot on a very good talent at a vital position, who is such a risk?
5. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. If you haven't read this yet, you simply must. It's the SI story, masterfully done by Thomas Lake, on the high school football and basketball player from Michigan, Wes Leonard, who died on the court last year after an inspirational victory. One of the best things I've read in a while.
b. Good SI.com story and explanation on the Braun case by David Epstein and Joe Lemire.
c. I pity Justin Morneau, still feeling the effects of post-concussion syndrome.
d. Wondering what it must have been like for longtime Giants VP and scout Chris Mara to sit at the Oscars last night and listen to Colin Firth say of his daughter Rooney that her role in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was "dazzling perfection?''
e. Congrats to the Vancouver Canucks. In the span of 24 hours, they went to Detroit and broke the Wings' 23-game home winning streak and then won in New Jersey against one of the hottest teams in the league.
f. Finally saw Ides of March. Disturbing, if you know the outcome, but well done and politically smart.
g. Lord, who is doing the Red Sox PR? More shooting the messenger after an offseason of ignoring the drinking-in-the-clubhouse-during-games stories from last season. The team never addressed it, except to say it wants it buried and wants everyone to look ahead, not behind. "It's a new chapter, beginning today," Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino said at spring training the other day. "Our idea is, let's write this new chapter. Enough has been said about the last chapter.''
But not by you. Not saying, "It'll never happen again, and it's a disgrace it ever happened in the first place.'' Whoever in the organization had the grand plan of eliminating the issue by ignoring it and sneering at the media when it was brought up has no idea that such an irresponsible issue doesn't go away in the eyes of many followers -- like me -- if you bash people over the head for bringing it up.
h. Coffeenerdness: Ordered my latte at the JW Marriott Starbucks in Indianapolis Sunday morning. Turned around to see 49ers quarterback coach Geep Chryst. "Ordering behind you at Starbucks,'' Chryst said, "is like going after Michael Jordan in a dunk contest.'' Why, thank you.
i. Beernerdness: Thanks to the folks at Sun King Brewery in downtown Indianapolis for the tour and the hospitality at Friday night's Tweetup. Not to mention the Sunlight Cream Ale and pizza one of the owners, Steve Koers, provided a few of us writers as we talked football with the locals. Good time was had by all.
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