BRB From The NFL Combine: Day 1

Unfortunately, I think this qualifies as somewhat of a disappointment.

We have the media credentials, but from what I can gather, we're not allowed to watch the workouts.  All the speakers gather at podiums and answer whoever shouts loudest, and after that you might be able to grab them as they're going off stage for a few minutes.  There are practically no scouts or anything of that nature in the crowd, it's all media guys.  Food is not free.  Indianapolis is in the midst of a chilly wind that burned my hands walking the one block back to my hotel.  My dog got ran over.  Etc, etc.

As someone who came in today with rather different expectations of things (big lists of questions for a few prospects, Texans scouts, GM types, etc.), I think I'll be doing a lot of re-inventing overnight here.  But fear not, BRB, we will make the most of it.

Today the interviewed prospects included tight ends, offensive linemen, kickers, and punters.  Early in the morning we were able to have a few separate GMs, coaches, and personnel men.  The most interesting tidbits out of these were from Steelers director of player personnel Kevin Colbert.  Colbert said that he thought the overwhelming size of offensive linemen was a factor in smaller pass rushers becoming more en vogue, since they can win the leverage battle.  He also deftly dodged a Brandon Graham-LaMarr Woodley comparison.  However, he did say that he thought that this was the deepest class of defensive linemen he had remembered seeing in his 26 years in the business.

The most charismatic coach was Jim Schwarz of the Lions, who when asked about where his team needed to improve, replied, "We have a lot of needs.  Our #1 need is talent.  Once we get that, I can reduce my Lipitor."  

I spent most of the time shadowing offensive linemen, with my pet question being how familiar they were with a zone blocking scheme and whether their college used it a lot.  Some guys, such as Utah's Zane Beadles, were convincing enough to make me think they understood the system.  Others, like Idaho guard Mike Iupati, were much more carefully scripted and said they liked moving up to the next level instead of answering the question.  

Zoltan Mesko, the Michigan punter, was my favorite interviewee of the day.  Someone asked him what the hardest question a team had asked him was, and he said that both the Falcons and Steelers Special Team coaches asked him to tell a joke.  He went off on some variation of "Two guys in a bar..." and then intimated that he had to profusely apologize to them because they weren't pleased with the answer.  He also told the story of how he came into kicking:  He was playing soccer as a kid (more popular in Romania) when he broke a gym light.  The coach told him to either pay for it, or play for the football team.  

One thing that I think this interview format is good for is you can pretty quickly tell who is outgoing naturally and who has had it coached into them to some extent.  Anthony Davis and Iupati both seemed to be of the quiet giant variety, expounding on a question only when it hit something they remembered to talk about.  Iupati in particular came off as really coached when he mentioned how he was trying too hard at the Senior Bowl, which led to all the holding he did.  He was playing out of his normal position, that didn't really need to be tacked on.  They both had funny moments but they came sheepishly and were of a "what do you want me to say?" variety.  

Basically, this event was formatted with 3 different podiums, and they would announce who was available at what podium and the reporters asked for around 15 minutes.  Then we'd all scamper off.  That was the entirety of the event.

I have to go get some food to eat, as I avoided Aramark food and prices at Lucas Oil, so I'm going to leave this in the hands of the you fine folk and I'll check back in sometime tomorrow morning to follow up on comments.

In the mean time:  Tomorrow we have quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers.  I figure I might get in about two questions a player, so if you've got any, fire away.  I'll use the best you can give me.  If you want to know impressions on some other people (player or otherwise) I may or may not have talked to today, I'll also answer those.  Tomorrow I'll bring the whole laptop and try and fire off a few updates (or have a continually updated post) while I'm there.  Today was much more of a test run to see just what exactly I should be expecting. 

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