9:23 a.m. EST: Good morning and happy Saturday to you all. It seems as though a bit of a warm front has blown through the greater Indianapolis area, as frost bite didn’t kick in until just before we approached the stadium.
Anticipation is filling the air as the defensive linemen and linebackers will make their way to the Lucas Oil media room. Hopefully they will start filing in within the hour.
As we have the last couple of days, we will try to bring you the sites and sounds from the media room. But if you have any specific questions, please feel free to fire them and we will do our best to get them answered.
Also, the workouts will start revving up today. For the latest results and the NFL Network broadcast schedule, click on the links at the bottom of this blog.
9:56 a.m. EST: Well the first player of the day has taken the stage, but not from the position group we expected. Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton is kicking the day off.
10:49 a.m. EST: The first of the defensive players have entered the room. Cincinnati’s Connor Barwin and Penn State’s Maurice Evans have taken their respective podiums. Barwin started his collegiate career at tight end for the Bearcats and was moved to defense last season. That versatility should help him at the next level and it is possible that he may work out as a defensive end, outside linebacker and tight end before the draft. I guess the old adage, the more you can do, the better off you will be applies to Barwin.
11:22 a.m. EST: Georgia’s Corvey Irwin has taken his turn in the media room and mentioned that the Broncos are amongst the teams that he has talked this week. The former Bulldog said he measured in at 6’3″ 301 lbs. and will take part in all of the combine drills.
11:30 a.m. EST: NFL Network is now showing the offensive linemen running the 40. The pride of the University of Louisville, Eric Wood, just clocked a 5.17 … at 6’4″ 310 lbs. that is motoring.
12:03 p.m. EST: Those teams at the top of the draft who are in need of a wide receiver just got some bad news. NFL Network is reporting that Michael Crabtree, who many consider that top player at his position one on of the top players in the draft, has a slight stress fracture in his left foot that will require a surgery to insert a screw.
12:26 p.m. EST: Utah defensive end Paul Kruger has ended the defensive drought we experienced the last hour. He started his podium session by recounting the story of how he lost a kidney. When Kruger was 13-years old, he was in a jeep accident and suffered multiple injuries. He said that he wears a pad to protect his abdomen, but the injury has never hampered his playing. The biggest thing he was to watch is his hydration and diet.
12:40 p.m. EST: Mitch King from Iowa just told us that he has “violent hands.”
1:36 p.m. EST: Well it has been quiet player wise for about an hour. Hopefully the rush will start here soon as long as they don’t all come at once. For now we are all watching … and just as I say that, Brandon Williams from Texas Tech takes the podium.
2:03 p.m. EST: Now this is more like it. The pace has picked up and we have had two of the top linebacker/defensive ends make their way into the media room. Penn State’s Aaron Maybin and Brian Orakpo from Texas both had their time under the lights. Both said they are willing to play at linebacker in the 3-4 or defensive end in the 4-3. Orakpo seemed very comfortable with the cameras on him, joking with reporters and having fun with the event. Despite being in sweats, you can tell he is put together.
2:08 p.m. EST: Earlier this morning, I was forwarded a YouTube clip of someone jumping out of a pool. I didn’t believe it. Well, the man who did the stunt, San Jose State’s Jarron Gilbert, just took the podium and confirmed it to be true. Here it is below in case you haven’t seen it.
I also found this one, equally impressive.
2:35 p.m. EST: The word that has echoed through the media room today has been “versatility.” You have heard it from Orakpo, Maybin and others. But the guy who probably exemplifies the word more than anyone else is West Virginia quarterback Pat White. White set the NCAA record for rushing as a quarterback and projects to play several positions in the NFL and with the implementation of the “Wildcat” offense, his value could skyrocket.
Also in the media room is Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis. A huge media contention has gathered around him and he is handling it well. He said he feels comfortable in both the 4-3 and 3-4 and has no regrets about coming back for his senior season.
3:37 p.m. EST: Well it happened just like we feared. Podium 1 – LB Brian Cushing; Podium 2 – DL B.J. Raji and Podium 3 – LB Rey Maualuga … all at the same time. Now that was hectic.
Because they all were going at the same time, I didn’t spend a lot of time with either, so I will give you my thumbnail impression for what it is worth.
Cushing – Taller than I thought, said he measured almost 6’3″ and weighed just over 240 lbs. Although he played in Southern California, you could tell he still has that blue-collar New Jersey work ethic.
Raji – People always talk about his motor and how he never stops. Well just from his interview session, you could tell that was accurate. The guy moved the entire time and worked up quite a sweat (I’m sure the bight lights had something to do with that as well).
Maualuga – I’ll admit it, I am a fan. I have been a fan since I first saw him play. He measured in at just under 6’2″ and bit under 250 lbs. He was poised in his answers and you could tell that he was enjoying it. He came across as very friendly as well — saying hi to every media member that he walked by.
3:45 p.m. EST: Before the defensive star onslaught, I listened in on Cal’s Zack Follett answering a few questions. When most of the linebackers are asked what player the enjoy watching, you hear Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and others. But Follett’s answer was the most original and unusual. He looked up to Terry Tate … the office linebacker from the Reebok commercials. In case you forgot who Tate was, here is a clip -
4:15 p.m. EST: Wow … Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry just wrapped up an 18-minute session that was easily the best of the combine. I am pretty sure that every media member in this room could have talked to him for another 30-minutes. He was smart, engaging, witty, funny and any other positive adjective that you could come up with.
He talked at length about coming home following his sophomore year at Wake Forest to find out that he and is family were being evicted. It was then that he knew he needed to do something to pull his family out of the financial crisis and football was the answer.
After a strong junior campaign, he submitted his name to the NFL’s advisory council to determine when he would be drafted. The report he received was he had a third-round grade. The contract he would sign as a third-round pick could have easily helped his family. But his mom encouraged him to go back for his senior year. He did and now is projected to be a top-five pick.
Moral of that story; always listen to your mother.
Anyway, we are going to post his entire press conference on the main site later this afternoon. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
4:50 p.m. EST: Well I think we have had our last player of the day come through the media room. USC linebacker/defensive end Clay Matthews Jr. visited with us for a little while. One of the greatest expereinces I have had is working for the Tennessee Titans when Bruce Matthews was there. It was towards the end of his Hall-of-Fame career, but it was a highlight so I was anxious to see his nephew.
Talk about a guy with good blood lines. Matthews’ grandfather, Clay Sr., played four seasons for the 49ers in the early 1950s. His dad, also Clay, played 19 seasons at linebacker with the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons and then there is Bruce, who played every position on the offensive line for the Oilers/Titans for 19 years.
Well that will probably put the wraps on day three of the combine for us. We will be back bright and early tomorrow for the defensive backs.