NFL Combine Rumor Mill by Tony Pauline. Check back for daily updates or follow Tony @TonyPauline.
Tony will be covering the Combine, so he'll have more rumor-mill updates and previews. You can see any updates posted on the NFL Draft Scouting Combine home page.
NFL Combine: Monday Notes. 6:35 p.m.
Clemson safety T.J. Green posted some impressive testing marks today, including 4.34 in the 40 and a broad jump of 10-9, but struggled during position drills. I've been told there are several teams now looking at Green as a press cornerback rather than safety considering his size, speed and the fact he'll need work on his technique from the ground up.
Teams were impressed with Kamalei Correa of Boise State during meetings, and I've been told he was "great" during interviews. Coupled with his field work at the Combine, scouts now believe he'll be selected between picks 25-to-40.
Darian Thompson of Boise State had a disappointing workout, but I'm told he was sick the entire weekend and lost seven pounds. Thompson weighed 215 pounds during the Senior Bowl,0 but checked in at 208 during the Combine.
NFL Combine: Monday Notes. 5:30 p.m.
There was a rather significant difference between the 40 times of the two groups of defensive backs today; the second group was much slower or ran slower than expected when compared to the first. Scouts tell me they feel the second group of defensive backs, who performed well in the vertical and broad jumps, which took place before their forty, may have just tightened up and spent to much time on the field. As someone with a track and field background (I competed in the decathlon for a decade), I believe this is justified reasoning as the light, speedy guys always had a thin margin of error between being properly loose and getting a little tight.
What scouts have found most amazing from the 40 results is the disparity when comparing times of the Southern Utah defensive players the past two days to their marks from junior timing day in 2015. James Cowser, Miles Killebrew and Leshaun Sims were all at least .2 slower at the Combine compared to junior timing day. Teams believe the SUU field may have been mismarked, a nice way of saying the players didn't actually run 40-yards in the spring, which resulted in such a large difference in the 40 times by the three players.
I'm told Kevin Dodd suffered a grade 1 hamstring strain yesterday and hopes to be ready for Clemson pro day March 10. Dodd is being further evaluated today.
While the questions on Robert Nkemdiche pile up, so do the visits. I've been told as of today, the number of official visits has moved from 15 to 19.
NFL Combine: Sunday Notes. 12:35 p.m.
Monday's defensive back workout will set the pecking order at safety with the prime suspects being Keanu Neal of Florida, Darian Thompson of Boise State and Vonn Bell of Ohio State. As previously mentioned, Neal has been outperforming Bell regularly in combine training.
The belief is at least one safety will go in the late part of the opening round, and there's a chance two end up in the first frame. I'm hearing if you want a chance of selecting one of the top safeties, you'll have to move in front of Tennessee at the top of Round 2. I'm told the Baltimore Ravens are a team that could trade back into the bottom part of Round 1 to grab one of the safeties.
I'm told the Oakland Raiders won't let Darian Thompson get past them in the second round.
As of right now, people feel Jack Conklin is the player most desired by the Green Bay Packers, but it's very unlikely the Michigan State tackle falls that far. The contingency plans for the Pack seems to be Jason Spriggs at this point.
Teams were impressed with Germain Ifedi's workout, and there's a feeling the Texas A&M offensive tackle could slide into the late part of Round 1. I'm told right now Seattle and Denver are the teams targeting Ifedi late in round one.
NFL Combine: Saturday Notes. 2:55 p.m.
There are a number of teams who believe Jack Conklin will move into the draft's initial 15 picks after his workout yesterday.
Teams were also impressed with the workout of Le'Raven Clark, and many feel he has moved into the second round.
People at the combine believe free agent offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz will eventually sign a contract that will average near or above $8 million annually.
I'm told the Colts are in no hurry to re-sign tight end Coby Fleener.
The belief at the combine is there will be a big market for Tashaun Gipson, and he's in line for a big pay day.
Keep an eye on Javon Hargrave of South Carolina State during tomorrow's defensive line workouts. I'm told he could move into the second day of the draft with a good combine performance.
Personally, I'm not a fan of Joel Stave's next level potential, but I'm told he will be drafted. Teams love his 6-foot-5 1/2, 235-pound frame and arm strength. While they admit he needs technical work, the feeling is Stave is worth a late-round pick and, at the very least, a spot on the practice squad.
Finally, those in attendance when Jaylon Smith weighed in yesterday tell me his injured leg looked terrible when he stepped on the scale. Smith struggled moving the leg as well as controlling the leg. I was told it was a glum mood and there was a lot of sadness for Smith from the scouts and coaches on hand. From one source I heard, "I felt like crying for the kid." There are a number of teams who think Smith could fall into the draft's last day.
NFL Combine: Friday Notes. 8:00 p.m.
Free agent talks are in full swing at the combine.
I'm told offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele, Jeff Allen and Brandon Brooks are in line for big paydays.
Most of the talk at the combine centers around Osemele. ESPN has reported the Baltimore Ravens are making an aggressive push to re-sign their second-round pick from the 2012 NFL draft but I'm told the New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers are potential suitors if Osemele hits the open market.
Osemele could help the Jets in a number of ways, including filling a hole at offensive guard or lining him up at right tackle, then kicking Breno Giacomini into guard.
Would the Jets pay the big money commanded by Osemele? If last year was an indicator, the team was in contention to sign Mike Iupati, but balked once the price tag approached $8 million annually and finally settled on James Carpenter, something I wrote about during the 2015 combine.
Conversely, I've been told safety Eric Weddle will not receive the big-money contract many predict.
Getting back to the New York Jets, the team needs linebackers, yet have no intention of re-signing Demario Davis, so what will they do?
Keep an eye on Shea McClellin, the 2012 first round pick of the Chicago Bears.
The Bears hope to re-sign McClellin, but if he hits the free agent market, the Jets would be a good fit. McClellin fits the team need for a coverage linebacker with pass-rush ability, something Davis was very deficient in.
In other news, I'm told Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee could run 40 times in the 4.4s tomorrow.
NFL Combine: Thursday Notes. 7:20 p.m.
Sometimes the most miserable of circumstances offer strange opportunities. Such was my experience the past 24 hours. Severe storms on the East Coast caused cancellations of four different flights as I attempted to get from New York to Indianapolis on Wednesday. I was ultimately booked on a flight this (Thursday) morning out of LaGuardia Airport (miserable place) and that flight was an hour late departing.
As I was sitting in the boarding area, a gentleman I recognized walked toward me; longtime NFL executive Carl Peterson, the former general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. Seemed Carl was also on my flight to Indianapolis.
I took the opportunity to speak with Carl, and he gave me some golden nuggets of combine history.
I asked Carl what he thought of the changing nature of the combine and how it's turning more and more into a media event. I reminded him that I was sitting just behind him and newly hired coach Dick Vermeil to watch Drew Brees throw in the old RCA Dome during the 2001 combine.
He just laughed.
"The first combine we had was at old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia back in 1978. The idea was for a few teams to get together and complete medical exams and physicals on some of the players. It was easier than having players travel from city to city and undergo exams at the team's facilities. Some of these guys were glowing in the dark by their seventh or eight physical after undergoing so many X-rays!"
"The initial group was those of us who made up BLESTO and a few other teams. During that first year Don Shula said, "Carl, any chance we can take these guys outside and have them run?" Peterson responded, "I don't know if that's been approved by the league or the competition committee, Don."
Shula, then a member of the competition committee, told Peterson, "I'll take care of it."
"Good-weather days were tough to come by during those first combines," Peterson said of holding the event in Philadelphia during the month of February, "so we did a lot of things in the hallways including shuttle runs and vertical jumps."
They moved the combine to Arizona's warm-weather climate for a year and even tried the Silverdome before settling on Indianapolis.
Eventually, BLESTO and National scouting services decided to work one single combine together for more efficiency. "There were always teams who didn't want to be a part of the group, the Dallas Cowboys and always the Oakland Raiders," Peterson said. "We finally said to them, "Hey, if you want to be a part of this you have to pay your fair share!"
Peterson reiterated something I've said numerous times, "For me the greatest value of the combine was the medicals and interviews. I felt like I got to personally know potential draft picks."
Peterson presently lives in New York city and is the face of USA Football, the premier organization of youth football in America. Said Peterson, "I used to be in charge of 65 very large men but now I'm in charge of 6,000 kids!"
USA Football is the reason for Peterson's trip to Indianapolis as the organization hold a convention every year at the combine, flying in more than 600 youth football coaches from around the nation.
I will have a lot more on Saturday but the first-round buzz surrounding Florida safety Keanu Neal keeps getting louder.
After weighing in near 235 pounds today, teams are already rearranging their draft boards and moving Stanford's Devon Cajuste from receiver to tight end/H-back.
Chris Brown of Notre Dame may only run in the 4.5s on Saturday, but he has a good excuse. Brown has been shuttling back-and-forth between combine training in Chicago and the classroom in South Bend. As he's preparing for his combine workout, Brown has remained in school to get his degree.
Tulsa receiver Keyarris Garrett, who measured in at 6-3, 3/8, 220 pounds today, is expecting to run his forty in the 4.4s from what I was told.
NFL Teams Favoring Underclassmen in Interviews
Not a whole lot of news as players are still arriving, but the sense I'm getting is
teams here in Indianapolis will spend the lion's share of their official interviews on
juniors and players who did not participate in post-season bowl games.
Junior receiver Corey Coleman is interviewing with 18 teams, defensive
end/linebacker Kamalei Correa has 25, Austin Hooper 20 and LaQuon Treadwell is
the leader in the clubhouse thus far with 28.
Meanwhile players such as outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell, receiver Sterling
Shepard (both Senior Bowl recipients) and offensive lineman Alex Lews (Shrine
Game) all have about a half dozen interviews each.