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2014 NFL Combine News and Notes by Tony Pauline

This 2014 NFL Combine News and Notes page will be updated constantly. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

These 2014 NFL Combine Notes by Tony Pauline of

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2014 NFL Combine Rumors: Thursday, Feb. 27, 2:10 p.m.
By Tony Pauline,

Confirmation received on the extent of Jimmie Ward's foot issue, Garoppolo taking part in Northwestern's pro-day next week plus more news filtering out as the 2014 NFL Combine shuts its doors.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M:
At last count, at least 17 quarterback coaches polled at the combine rank Derek Carr over Johnny Manziel.

Cincinnati Bengals:
On Sunday, I reported sources told me the Cincinnati Bengals may have to consider cutting Carlos Dunlap in order to create room to sign other highly considered players, mainly Michael Johnson, whom the Bengals really want to bring back. I was then referred to as brain dead, inbred and other sorts of complimentary adjectives. Hence, I went back to my source for clarification and was told yes, the organization has in fact had conversations about potentially cutting Carlos Dunlap or at least attempting to restructure his contract. I'm told the way Dunlap's contract is structured, the team has until March 30 to make a decision.

Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois:
I can confirm Jimmie Ward/DB/Northern Illinois was not cleared to participate in Tuesday's combine workout after being diagnosed with a Jones fracture in his foot. It's considered a mid/small fracture; in a nutshell, I'm told it's a less severe version of what Julio Jones worked out with several years ago. The injury will be resolved with a simple procedure after the NIU pro-day. I'm told Ward, who felt ready to go earlier this week despite being pulled from the workout by combine officials, plans on fully participating in the NIU pro-day next week.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois:
Jimmy Garoppolo/QB/Eastern Illinois, who solidified himself as a second rounder last week and already has five pre-draft visits with NFL teams on his schedule, will participate in Northwestern's pro-day next week. I'm told Garoppolo's favorite receiver, Erik Lora will also workout that day. EIU does not have a pro-day on the schedule.

Christian Kirksey, LB, Iowa:
Iowa linebacker Christian Kirksey did not run at the combine due to hamstring issues but is expected to fully participate at the Hawkeyes pro-day later next month.

Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma:
Oklahoma fullback Trey Millard won't do any type of workout prior to the draft. There was a thought he could push something out the last week of April but the final choice was smartly made to hold him back.

Joel Bitonio, G/OT, Nevada:
If you followed my Combine Risers/Sliders articles on Philadelphia last week you'll notice I gave Joel Bitonio of Nevada high grades for his workout on Saturday. This should not come as a surprise as I spoke highly of Bitonio during Senior Bowl week on both the Eagles and Green Bay Packers official sites. I've learned two things about Bitonio since Saturday; 1) the feeling is he's cemented himself as a second-round pick and 2) he's going to be drafted at offensive guard and not a tackle. The latter surprised me a bit. Though I initially graded Bitonio as a guard I thought his performance at the Senior Bowl, primarily the fact he was the only one able to stop Dee Ford, would've given him more consideration at left tackle.

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2014 NFL Combine Rumors: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 12:30 a.m.
By Tony Pauline,

News and notes from the seventh day of the combine in Indianapolis.

Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida:
Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles is receiving high marks for his interviews at the combine. Several people I spoke with feel that's only going to get better during pro-day and individual workouts when teams have the opportunity to sit down and challenge him on the chalk board. Remember, Bortles shouldered much of the decision making in the UCF offense.

New York Giants:
I'm told Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans is a real possibility for the New York Giants with the draft's 12th selection if available. The team is expected to lose veteran wide out Hakeen Nicks to free agency and there's not much production on the depth chart after Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle. I'm also told if one of the top offensive tackles (Greg Robinson or Taylor Lewan) happen to slip to the 12th pick the Giants would look in that direction. Otherwise expect the team to initially look for guards in free agency.

Oakland Raiders:
Staying on the free agency theme, I was told this evening its unlikely the Oakland Raiders strike a deal with running back Darren McFadden before the deadline. That said, I was assured McFadden and the Raiders will continue to have a dialogue once free agency starts as the ball carrier speaks with different organizations.

Kansas City Chiefs:
I'm told Branden Albert may not be the only veteran offensive lineman out the door in Kansas City. The way it looks now back-up Geoff Schwartz, who received heavy interest at the combine, will likely sign elsewhere.

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2014 NFL Combine Rumors: Monday, Feb. 24, 10:45 p.m.
By Tony Pauline,

Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois:
Jimmie Ward will not be taking part in Tuesday's defensive backs workout. Routine Combine medical evaluations revealed a foot issue. Ward is still awaiting more to the exact nature of the injury, and initial reports are the injury is considered relatively minor.

Combine medical procedures dictate that Ward not be allowed to participate even if he wanted to (similar to Austin Sefarian-Jenkins). Like Sefarian-Jenkins, the situation is surprising in that the player had been running and training without any discomfort, or indication of an injury. Ward came to Indianapolis planning to fully take part in Tuesday's showcase. Ward had been working out at the same facility as Jadeveon Clowney and Jerick McKinnon, two players who've exceeded expectations the past two days in combine workouts.

As first reported Thursday, Ward was expected to perform extremely well in all areas of Tuesday's on field workout. In fact, Ward has been consistently running 40 times in the 4.4s. Multiple teams have Ward behind only Calvin Pryor and HaHa Clinton-Dix among the safety population.

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2014 NFL Combine Rumors: Monday, Feb. 24, 12:50 p.m.
By Tony Pauline,

News and notes from the sixth day of the combine in Indianapolis.

Seattle Seahawks:
If the Seattle Seahawks had their choice of player with the last pick of round one it would likely be Odell Beckham Jr. Chances are Beckham won't be available to the Seahawks at the end of the first frame. I'm told look for the Seahawks to go offensive line heavy in the draft.

Arizona Cardinals:
I'm told the Arizona Cardinals will make a big run at Branden Albert if he hits free agency, as expected. If they don't come away with Albert, sources say the Cardinals will look offensive tackle in round one.

Dallas Cowboys:
Word at the combine has the Dallas Cowboys going defensive front seven early and often in the draft. Word is Aaron Donald is a possibility for the team in round one.

San Diego Chargers:
I'm told another team that looking for defensive line help during the early part of the draft are the San Diego Chargers. The only exception will be if a top rated secondary prospect is available to them.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern:
How impressive was Jerick McKinnon's workout yesterday? Its likely to improve his draft stock anywhere from two-to-three rounds. This morning sources told me they feel McKinnon has cemented himself as a fourth-round pick and could break into the third frame. A few teams now rate McKinnon as the fifth running back on their boards.

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2014 NFL Combine Rumors: Sunday, Feb. 23, 5:05 p.m.
By Tony Pauline,

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington:
In the last hour, I've learned much more on the injury which kept Austin Seferian-Jenkins from working out yesterday. It was an injury medical examiners at the Combine accidentally found. Doctors X-rayed Seferian-Jenkins left foot with the sole intention of examining the ankle, which he sprained a year ago and kept him on the sidelines during a small portion of the 2012 season.

In reviewing the X-rays, doctors noticed what seemed to be a potential small fracture in the foot and ordered more tests. I'm told Seferian-Jenkins was getting ready to take the field for his workout when he was pulled from the line and told additional tests were needed. The big tight end was as surprised as anyone as he'd never experienced pain in his left foot to that point. Seferian-Jenkins' Combine weight of 262 pounds is a number significantly lower than his playing weight of 2013. I'm told Seferian-Jenkins had been timing in the 4.6s during recent training.

2014 NFL Combine Rumors: Sunday, Feb. 23, 10:30 a.m.
By Tony Pauline,

News and notes from the fifth day of the combine in Indianapolis.

Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida:
In conversations here in Indy it's apparent the quarterbacks stack up 1) Blake Bortles, 2) Teddy Bridgewater, 3) Derek Carr, 4) Johnny Manziel on a number of team boards.

Bortles officially announced Monday he would throw at the combine, but I was told the strong-arm quarterback decided long ago he would participate in the entire combine workout. Throwing at the combine was never a question in Bortles' mind.

Miami Dolphins:
Word around Indy is Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin will eventually be traded but its a question of when. Someone close to the situation told me yesterday, "there are a lot of moving parts." I get the idea everyone wants to make sure they are covering their you know what.

Cincinnati Bengals:
I'm told the Cincinnati Bengals may have to cut Carlos Dunlap in order to create the salary cap room necessary to sign a number of other highly considered players on their roster about to hit free agency.

Atlanta Falcons:
The feeling from the combine says the Atlanta Falcons have a 50/50 chance of re-signing starting center Joe Hawley.

Pittsburgh Steelers:
LaMarr Woodley's contract is likely to make re-signing Jason Worilds very difficult if not impossible. I'm told at least at least a dozen teams here at the combine have expressed great interest in Worilds if he hits free agency.

New England Patriots:
Last night at dinner with a few scouts I learned that an FBI profiler was brought in to review the interview tapes of Aaron Hernandez from the 2010 combine. The profiler pointed out a number of signs during the interview which would've raised red flags had he seen it in 2010; body language, the way Hernandez answered questions, his body language answering questions. Bottom line is more teams will bring in profilers to review these interview tapes.

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2014 NFL Combine Rumors: Saturday, Feb. 22, 10:55 a.m.
By Tony Pauline,

News and notes from the fourth day of the combine in Indianapolis.

Denver Broncos:
I'm told Denver Broncos guard Zane Beadles would be content testing the free agency waters if he doesn't get a deal done with the team. I'm also told the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins head the list of suitors if Beadles hits the free agent market.

Jason Verrett, CB, TCU:
If Jason Verrett looked a little off his game late last season you'll have to excuse him. Verrett played through most of the 2013 campaign with a torn labrum in his shoulder, an injury he'll have surgery to repair sometime during the week of March 17th. I was told the game plan is for Verrett to complete his combine workout then take part in pro-day on March 6th. The next week Verrett is expected to schedule individual workouts for almost a dozen teams before undergoing the procedure to fix his shoulder.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson:
Speaking of running on Sunday, I received a lot of grief after posting earlier this week Martavis Bryant of Clemson will scorch the track, timing in the low 4.3's during the forty. Earlier today separate sources, unaffiliated with Bryant, confirmed the wide out is a low 4.3s/high 4.2s forty man.

Chris Boyd, WR, Vanderbilt:
I spoke with former Vanderbilt receiver Chris Boyd and was pleasantly surprised by his demeanor and respectful attitude. Boyd told me he measured in at 6-feet, 4-inches, 206-pounds and hopes to run in the low 4.5's on Sunday.

John Brown, WR, Pittsburg State:
Fast times are also expected from another receiver, John Brown of Pittsburg State. Earlier today someone predicted Brown would be the fastest man on the field Sunday.

Jerick Mckinnon, QB, Georgia Southern:
I'm told Georgia Southern quarterback Jerick Mckinnon, who projects to running back in the NFL, is expected to turn in a terrific workout. His marks will include bench press result in excess of 30 reps, a vertical jump over 37-inches and a low 4.4's in the forty.

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2014 NFL Combine Rumors: Friday, Feb. 21, 4:45 p.m.
By Tony Pauline,

News and notes from the third day of the combine in Indianapolis.

Houston Texans:
There's a feeling here amongst people at the combine Jadeveon Clowney is most definitely in the running to be the draft's first pick. People I spoke with mention Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will run a more traditional two-gap, 3-4 alignment, which makes Clowney a great fit This compared to more of the one-gap principals formerly employed by Wade Phillips.

Seattle Seahawks:
It seems Aaron Donald has carried the momentum of his Senior Bowl performance to the Combine, though he's yet to work out. I'm told the Seattle Seahawks brass love Donald. In fact, a source mentioned the Seahawks made Donald a lot of money based on the way they played their defensive tackles in 2013. Yesterday, I mentioned Donald is expected to run in the low 4.7s during his workout on Monday. Today I was told he's been running in the high 4.5s/low 4.6s in training recently.

Carolina Panthers:
I'm told the Carolina Panthers are very interested in Clemson tackle Brandon Thomas especially since the belief is Jordan Gross may retire. Even if Gross plays another year, Thomas is still an option in day two.

Oakland Raiders:
Expectations are the Oakland Raiders will tag defensive tackle Lamarr Houston. Whether its a franchise or transition tag is not clear. Considering the teams salary cap situation, which is a good one, the transition tag may make more sense.

New York Jets:
As posted on twitter earlier the New York Jets met with agents for Calvin Pace yesterday. We initially posted the Jets interest in bringing Pace back for another season when both parties were seen together at the Senior Bowl.

St. Louis Rams:
To build upon our notes from yesterday, I'm told a significant number of teams have expressed interest in Rodger Saffold and will pounce at the opportunity to sign the offensive tackle if he does not renew with the St Louis Rams.

Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford:
As posted on Twitter earlier, scouts have mentioned Stanford tackle Cameron Fleming as the offensive lineman people are sleeping on. He's been mentioned as a potential top 45 choice the past few days. Most scouts have Fleming staying put at the right tackle spot he lined up at with the Cardinal.

AC Leonard, TE, Tennessee State:
I'm told Tennessee State tight end AC Leonard weighed 252-pounds and measured just 7% body fat. Expectations are he will run in the 4.5s tomorrow.

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2014 NFL Combine Rumors: Thursday, Feb. 20, 3:05 p.m.
By Tony Pauline,

The 2014 NFL Combine kicks-off with the first workouts starting this Saturday. Its also the unofficial start of free agency. Who's expected to surprise scouts this weekend? And where may some of the top free agent tackles land? Here's the Thursday edition of Combine News & Notes.

Chicago Bears:
I gushed over Aaron Donald's performance at the Senior Bowl and have been told to expect much of the same during his combine workout on Monday. Donald, a 500+ pound bench presser, is expected to total in the mid 30's on the bench then run his forty somewhere in the 4.7's after tipping the scales in the low 290-pound area. I'm told Donald will also put up some pretty spectacular times in the agility drills. Where could Donald end up in May? After the combine we said teams late in the first round would have to start giving the Pittsburgh lineman consideration but recent rumblings have the Chicago Bears very interested in his services with the 14th pick of round one.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Most mock drafts have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting a tackle with the 7th pick of the draft. But free agency may negate that opinion. I'm told you can expect the Buccaneers to be big players in the Branden Albert sweepstakes if the Kansas City Chiefs don't resign sign him as expected. It should come as no surprise but the Miami Dolphins are also expected to be suitors for Albert if he hits the free agent market.

New York Jets:
As I posted on Twitter yesterday, the New York Jets will meet with representatives of Austin Howard at the combine in the coming days with the hopes of locking up their starting right tackle. I'm told the Jets are making Howard a priority, and as first reported in New York papers a week ago, the team has already sent off an initial offer. How much will Howard receive? Yesterday a league insider told me it could be similar to the deal Phil Loadholt signed with the Minnesota Vikings almost a year ago.

St. Louis Rams:
It's a similar situation with Rodger Saffold and the St Louis Rams, so I'm told. The team met with Saffold's agents last month and are expected to sit down with them again in Indianapolis.

Tennessee Titans:
The top cornerback in free agency is expected to be Alterraun Verner. Recent reports state the Tennessee Titans won't place a franchise tag on their coveted defensive back. Insiders tell me Verner is expected to sign a free agent contract that will start at $9 million annually.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson:
Forty times of the receivers are always something to watch and I'm told the wide out who could surprise everyone is Martavis Bryant of Clemson. Bryant, who goes an unofficial 6-feet, 5-inches, is expected to run in the low 4.3's and could even breach the high 4.2's.

Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado:
I'm told Paul Richardson of Colorado is expected to run faster than expected and could break into the 4.3's. Scouts I've spoken with compare Richardson's style to Philadelphia Eagles wide out DeSean Jackson, though not quite as fast.

Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois:
Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois is one of our favorite defensive backs but his size and athleticism are questioned. I'm told Ward, who lined up at both cornerback and safety at NIU, will pleasantly surprise NFL decision makers on Tuesday.

Richard Rodgers, TE, California:
I'm told Cal tight end Richard Rodgers will tip the scales around 265-pounds and is expected to run in the 4.7-area. Low 4.7's could seal him as a 4th rounder.

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