It’s day three here at Lucas Oil Stadium, and it’s set up to be the biggest so far.
The defensive linemen and linebackers are set to step up to the podiums this morning and afternoon, along with some big-name holdovers who didn’t talk yesterday — namely Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.
Kyle Sonneman will be handling the majority of the blogging duties today, as I’ll be soaking in the sights and sounds in the rest of the venue. Offensive linemen are running the 40-yard dash as I type this, and more players will hit the bench press this morning.
The first player of the day is already talking at a table — Cincinnati wide receiver Armon Binns.
10:08 a.m. EST: Speaking of Binns, the former Bearcat has one of those stories that makes him a natural favorite. Coming out of a non-football-power high school in Southern California, Binns wasn’t recruited by many schools despite success on the field and in the classroom. So he and his dad took the recruiting in house, creating a highlight package and sending it out to 30 schools.
“I had one offer coming out of high school,” said Binns. “My school was really small and not a football school and I had to wait until after my senior year to make tapes and send it all out myself. By the time I sent it out, all the coaches pretty much had their recruits.”
But Cincinnati – who had just hired current Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly – took a chance on Binns and were rewarded. Now with the NFL right around the corner, Binns can hardly believe he is here.
“It is very surprising,” he said with a smile. “I remember sitting in my room not knowing if I was going to play college ball or if I was going to have a scholarship and now I am here. It is a real blessing.”
12:00 p.m. EST: Texas defensive end Sam Acho is currently speaking at the podium in front of our work station.
Like a lot of college defensive ends, Acho is an undersized player (6-foot-2, 262 pounds) who projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
“I think a lot of teams are looking at me as a 3-4 linebacker but I know some teams like me as a 4-3 defensive end,” Acho said. “I am ready to play where ever the team who drafts me wants me to play.”
Acho said that despite playing his entire college career with his hand on the ground, he is comfortable with the duties of a linebacker – including pass coverage.
“I don’t look at it as a challenge, I look at it as an opportunity,” Acho concluded.
12:14 p.m. EST: Several of the top defensive lineman have come through the press room in the last few minutes including; Ohio State’s Cam Heyward, Cal’s Cameron Jordan, Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan and Alabama’s Marcell Dareus.
Dareus was asked specifically if he was aware of the Broncos need on defense. The 6-foot-3, 319 pound defensive lineman said that he hadn’t been paying to attention to any specific team – he was focused on working hard to make sure he was ready for this process.
He said that he grew up watching Warren Sapp and likes to model his play style after the former All-Pro.
We will have more on him and the other defensive lineman during the day.
12:38 p.m. EST: Kerrigan (pictured above) said he has been approached by teams that play a 4-3 and a 3-4, and he’ll happily play in whichever scheme the team that draft’s him plays. He considers one of his strengths the ability to not only make the sack or tackle, but force the fumble as well.
He did admit he feels he needs to “get better at everything,” but he hopes his play in college speaks for itself.
“I’ve been able to put together some solid seasons back-to-back, and I think my production overall — like you said, I was a captain — I think that will speak volumes for some of the scouts here,” he said.
1:30 p.m. EST: A lot of big names have come and gone through the media room, including North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who missed his senior season due to NCAA sanctions.
“It’s still extremely hard to watch some of the stuff talking about character issues,” Austin said. “I’ve never taken a drink in my life, I’ve never smoked in my life. I’ve done everything to get to this point. One mistake — taking a couple trips, one of them was to train and get better as an athlete — cost me my whole senior season and cost me my image.”
He said in the end he doesn’t regret going back to UNC for his senior season, even though he didn’t get to play. It helped him grow as a person and not take any opportunity for granted. We’ll have more on the plights of he and fellow Tar Heel Robert Quinn in this evening’s notebook top story.
In the meantime, you can watch Dareus’ full interview on DenverBroncos.com now.
1:50 p.m. EST: The man who ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. has the Broncos taking with the No. 2 overall pick, Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers, just stepped off the podium. Kiper called Bowers the “most pure pass-rusher in the draft,” and the defensive end said he compares his game’s to Julius Peppers’. Bowers said he hasn’t had any one-on-one meetings with teams — the begin tonight — but he said that if Denver drafted him to play alongside Elvis Dumervil, it would be “a great opportunity, and I’d be ready to work for them.”
We’ll have a lot more on Bowers and fellow top prospect Nick Fairley in tonight’s notebook recap, as well. Broncos TV will post Bowers’ interview in full shortly.
As Bowers was talking, Missouri’s Aldon Smith stepped to a separate podium. Like Texas’ Acho, he is projected to be most successful at the next level as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
3:12 p.m. EST: At last year’s combine, Tim Tebow was questioned over and over again about his throwing motion and if he was worried that the skills needed to run the offense in college could translate to the NFL.
This year, Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick is getting the same questions.
On the perception that he would rather run than pass in college:
“I don’t think I will run as much in the NFL as I did in college. Obviously there are great athletes in the NFL that all run 4.4 and 4.5 so you aren’t going to have the freedom to run. But at the same time, my mobility will have the ability to extend plays, connvert third downs and make plays for a team.”
“I don’t think I fight the instinct to run, I think because I have that ability I feel comfortable doing that some times. If I get through one, two, three in my progression a lot of quarterbacks will throw the ball away or check it down to something that might not be as good. For me, because I have that mobility, I will try and make something bigger happen than throw the ball away.”
On his throwing motion:
“I am trying to quicken it up a little bit, but at the same time a lot of that has to do with my wingspan. I have very long arms and there is only a certain extent that you can compact that.”
Kepernick said that his wingspan measured 79 1/2 inches and he didn’t view himself as a project, but a guy who is ready to play right away as demonstrated by his performance in the Senior Bowl practices and game.
3:20 p.m. EST: Ryan Mallett just cut off his own interview session because he got tired of people asking him about rumors surrounding his alleged drug use.
“I’m not going to talk about that right now,” he said. “I’ve got interviews with the teams, and the teams need to know what they need to know, and I’m going to leave it at that.”
Before the contentious ending, he said he tries to pattern parts of his game off the skills of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
“They like to control the game at the line of scrimmage, and that’s what I like to do,” he said. “The way they play the game with the defense — they go on a lot of dummy cadences and things like that and try to get the defense to show their hand, and I’ve tried to do that also.”
As for some criticism of his accuracy and skills translating to the next level, he said his play answers those questions.
“Seven-thousand-plus yards and 60 touchdowns in two seasons, that’s how I respond to that,” he said, adding that he can throw a football about 80 yards down the field.
4:53 p.m. EST: It’s been a wild day here at Lucas Oil Stadium, featuring plenty of star power. We’ll have more on some of the day’s top stars in this evening’s notebook, to be posted shortly. Broncos TV has now posted Da’Quan Bowers’ interview in full, and videos of Cam Newton and Von Miller’s sessions will also be posted tonight.
That’ll do it for the blog today, since we have plenty to write about in the notebook. We’ll have more on many of each position’s top players as we begin to preview the 2011 NFL Draft, starting Tuesday with a look at the quarterbacks. Below are a few pictures from some recent podium sessions, including — in order — Casey Matthews, Von Miller, Julio Jones, Cam Newton (twice), J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn.
Look for more coverage coming shortly on DenverBroncos.com.
-Gray Caldwell and Kyle Sonneman
Tags: NFL Scouting Combine