It’s been a long week of interviews here at the combine, and we finish them out today. Defensive backs will meet the media, along with notable holdovers like defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
We’ll keep you up-to-date as the players roll into the media room. As I type this, wide receivers are running the 40-yard dash.
9:43 a.m. EST: Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich just mentioned going against Eddie Royal in college as one of the reasons he knows he’s ready to make the jump to the pros.
The cancer survivor declared himself 100 percent and said battling through the disease has helped him stay positive and motivated when games come down to the wire.
“It’s not a conscious motivation,” he said. “I don’t sit there in the fourth quarter and think, ‘Well, I beat cancer, I can do this.’ It’s just you get trained throughout your life, whether you go through something like this or something else, you train yourself to push through tough times. Throughout the year that I went through chemotherapy and radition, those were tough times — as tough as it’s going to get. So in the fourth quarter, it’s tough, but at the end of the day you’re playing football. I’m doing something I love. So take every minute, and don’t waste it.”
10:14 a.m. EST: Denver native Pierre Allen, who played defensive end at Nebraska, just spoke about the importance of the CU-Nebraska rivalry games.
“They meant a lot,” he smiled. “Sometimes I got to go back home and play in front of all my friends and family, and of course, beat Colorado, one of our biggest rivals.”
He said the combine thus far has been a bit stressful, but an enjoyable time as well.
“It’s definitely a nerve-wracking process, but it’s fun at the same time,” he said. “You get to meet a lot of coaches, a lot of great players all over the country. Just hopefully I test out well. They like what I put on film the last four years in college, and hopefully it works out for me.”
Allen said he has heard he could get drafted anywhere from the third to fifth round.
11:52a.m. EST: The defensive backs are now starting to make their way through the media room. Two from the state of Florida started things off, Miami’s Brandon Harris (left) and University of Florida’s Will Hill (right).
To say that Harris is proud of his affiliation with the Hurricanes, would be a gross understatement. The vast majority of the questions and his answers dealt with his time at the U.
“We understand that once you are at Miami, you represent the U,” Harris said. “Once you depart and head to the NFL, we hold our self to a higher standard because we understand the importance of University of Miami football players in the NFL. People don’t look at us as another guy coming out of college. You represent the U and what the U brings to the NFL is a lot. And we take it personal, we embrace that kind of vision people have for us. We respect it and we can’t wait to get to the next level to show everyone that we are successful, we make a lot of plays.”
Also in case you were interested, NFL Network is showing the workouts for quarterbacks and wide receivers. Even if you are not near your TV, you can check it out online. So far, the buzz of the workouts has surrounded Cam Newton and Jake Locker. Newton in the standing broad jump, measuring 10’6′ and Locker unofficially ran a 4.52 in the 40.
1:08 p.m. EST: Nick Fairley just stepped off the podium. He said he’s prepared to be one of the top picks in the draft and take on all the responsibilities that come with it.
“Any team that picks me, I’ll be happy with it,” Fairley said. “I can’t wait to get there and just hopefully bring success to the team right away and joy to the community.”
He was asked to compare himself to some of the other top linemen in this year’s draft class, Alabama’s Marcell Dareus and Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers.
“Those are great guys,” he said. “Really what’s going to separate us is probably what we do here at the combine. Hopefully things go good for me and I put up great numbers. I wish those guys the best.”
The lineman said he weighed in at 291 pounds, and he hopes to maintain a playing weight between 295 and 300 pounds at the next level. In the meantime, he smiled and said he’ll run faster due to the pounds he shed working out.
As for people who say he sometimes plays the game dirty, he had this response:
“Everybody is entitled to their opinion,” he said. “A lot of folks out there say I play the game the way it should be played. All I do is hit a light switch when I hit the field, and don’t turn it off until I leave.”
We’ll have more from Fairley in this evening’s notebook top story, and Broncos TV will post his full interview shortly.
3:55 p.m. EST: Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea earned a big group of reporters around his podium, as he had set a new combine record with 49 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press a few minutes earlier.
“Last year I did 44 reps in the spring last year,” he said. “Coming into the combine, I didn’t even know the record until they made a big deal out of it that it’s 45. I felt like if I did 44 after a workout, I felt like I could add five more reps. I’m blessed today.”
Paea, whose family originally lived in Tonga, said playing rugby helped him transition to football when his family moved to the U.S. Specifically, it taught him about leverage and keeping up with his conditioning.
4:17 p.m. EST: As we rolled into the afternoon hours on Sunday the media center was pretty quiet. But in the matter of 30 minutes, three of the top corners took time in the media room.
First up was LSU’s Patrick Peterson. Widely considered the top defensive back in the draft, Peterson was polished and confident. He said he hoped to run the 40 in the 4.2s or low 4.3s.
Some analysts have said that Peterson may end up playing safety. While Peterson is open to the change, he feels he is best suited at cornerback.
“I feel my best game is at cornerback,” Peterson said. “If an NFL team needs me to play the safety position, I’m definitely more than willing to transition my game to the safety position.”
Right after Peterson walked out the door, Nebraska corner Prince Amukamara (left) walked to the podium.
Amukamara played running back in high school and hoped to do the same for the Cornhuskers. But coach Bo Pelini told him that corner was the position he was best suited for.
“It definitely wasn’t my decision,” Amukamara said. “I went to Nebraska and was told I was going to play running back. I ended up playing DB and I wanted to switch back to running back, but I trusted Coach Pelini and he said DB would be the best fit for me and I just trusted him.”
And that trust has paid off for him as he is predicted to go in the top half of round one.
Colorado’s Jimmy Smith concluded the run. At 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds, Smith is one of the largest corners in the draft and also one of the most confident.
“I am a big, athletic physical corner,” Smith said with a smile on his face. “I love to press. I have great speed, size and ball skills. I am a shutdown corner.”
5:15 p.m. EST: NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock just wrapped up the media portion of the combine. He had some very interesting things to say about several of the top prospects. Chris Hall is working on the video and he will have it up on DenverBroncos.com shortly.
That will do it for us from the combine, but our draft coverage is just starting. Each week leading up to the draft we will preview a position group. First up on the docket, quarterbacks. Thanks for your questions and for taking time out of your day to follow along with us.
– Gray Caldwell & Kyle Sonneman
Tags: NFL Scouting Combine