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Pi Network

Lou: is providing Draft King with a series of articles direct from Indianapolis, the site of the 2008 NFL Combine. Enjoy!

February 22, 2008

NFL Scouting Combine: Day 2
By: Cory J. Bonini,

Wow! What a change one day makes. Yesterday, being Day 1 of the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine, was just a tad more relaxed than Day 2. Day 2 consisted of quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. The second day is the gem of the week, since most people focus so heavily on the skill positions. Some of yesterday's biggest names only pale in comparison to the future NFL stars taking the podium today.

The day began with Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson addressing issues facing his franchise, and the last team official to take the stage was the executive vice president of football operations for the St. Louis Rams, Bill Devaney.

Some coaches are candid, while others are not so forthright. Some coaches were open to answer some questions but reluctant to address others. A great example of the open-air variety is Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. While willing to answer anything asked of him, the leader of the 13-3 Pack didn't have a tremendous amount to say when asked about defensive tackle Justin Harrell or tailback Brandon Jackson.

On Harrell: "Individual improvement. Justin missed a lot of time after the draft. He wasn't able really to go through the OTAs, and we protected him there in training camp a little bit. He needs a full offseason, starting No. 1 in the weight room on March 17, and the individual time he'll have with his coaches. We look for him to contribute."

McCarthy said an awful lot of words without really saying anything too informative. The first three sentences boil down to him stating the obvious, while the final sentence simply doesn't say anything. Obviously a player is expected to contribute; otherwise, he wouldn't be on the team's roster! You have to love coach speak.

In reference to Jackson, the coach basically destroyed the second-year back's dreams of ever regaining a starting job with the Packers in the backfield and resigning him to a career of special teams duty with 10 words.

"He looks to have a very promising special teams career."

Recently hired Washington Redskins head coach Jim Zorn offered up some tremendous insight as to how he plans to utilize his prized tailback, Clinton Portis, and the versatile Ladell Betts in the same backfield.

Here are a few excerpts of what he had to say:

Me: How do you envision using Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts?

Zorn: "In the passing game, or the running game?"

Me: Both, and specifically the combo approach.

Zorn: "The things I've seen from Clinton Portis is that he's not only a great one-back runner, I think he can run behind our fullback. I also think he's a heckuva pass blocker. To be able to leave Clinton in there in a critical passing down, to threat with the run or draw or screen, and then be able to have him pass protect in a blitz situation, yeah, I think that kind a wholeness of offense. That's what I'm hoping for with him."

Me: Can you see using Betts and Portis together?

Zorn: "Absolutely. Ladell is going to be a complement to Clinton. Ladell can come in - we had almost the exact parallel situation in Seattle with (Maurice) Morris and Shaun Alexander. We wouldn't be them in the same backfield as well, because Clinton right now is proving he's a really strong pass protector. Shaun was proving he was a strong runner, but a limited pass protection I would say in my mind. But I think that's luxury we're going to have is to put them in the backfield at the same time. It would be all the time. Those are change-ups. Those are add-ons, attachments."

Of the skill position players, I was able to get a few questions answered by University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, who fielded a slew of questions about his past legal troubles from others in attendance. I targeted my questions toward his time working with the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff during the Senior Bowl week and, specifically, his footwork.

Brennan said he injured his hip during the week and wasn't quite right. He was able to push through the pain, eventually being named the starting quarterback of the South team for the week. He credited 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz for helping him with his footwork and allowing him to use his legs more in his throwing motion.

Several players stood out to me as refreshing interviews. After talking to enough players you get a great feel of who is simply going through the motions and which players are in this with all of their heart. I won't name any names, but a few players were in the former category. Of those in the latter, I was pleased to listen to University of Arkansas running back Felix Jones. He was very soft-spoken and laid-back - Jones had a very happy-go-lucky nature about himself. He probably was all smiles due to fielding so many questions about fellow Razorback ball carrier Darren McFadden. I mean, really, what else can one do but laugh when one out of every three questions is about your teammate?

Georgia Tech running back Tashard Choice was very impressive to me during the week of the Senior Bowl, but his interview spoke just as sterling of him as his play on the field did. When asked about how fast he would run, Choice said that it would be paramount to post numbers in the mid-to-upper 4.40s, especially since many forecast him to run in the 4.5-4.6 range. He stated that he ran a 4.48 recently, for what it's worth.

Of other notables, I was impressed with the candor of the aforementioned Brennan, who wasn't afraid to answer anything about his past troubles.

The same can be said of McFadden, to a degree, but I felt he should have opened up a little more. He is supposed to be the outgoing one of the Arkansas backfield, according to Jones, noted during one of the seemingly 10,000 questions about McFadden that he answered.

One player seems a little confused about the talent of his peers, because University of Texas running back Jamaal Charles was quoted as saying that he felt it was a good year to come out as a junior due to the "weak running back class." If this is a weak year at the position, then I must not have any clue as to what a talented lineup of running backs looks like, because this is one of the best classes in recent memory.

Time for a few quick-hit items of note:

* Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan seemed almost timid during his time with the media. He didn't seem to have that aura of confidence about him that most quarterbacks need - the level of confidence that borders on flat-out arrogance (see Colt Brennan).

* University of California-Berkeley wide receiver DeSean Jackson isn't quite as tall as Cal wants you to believe. Listed at 6-foot through the school's official Web site, Jackson measured just 5-foot-9. Is World Wrestling Entertainment in charge of keeping tabs at Cal?

* Brennan put on 22 pounds since the Senior Bowl, now weighing a still slight 207 pounds. He credited it to being on a diet, taking supplements and enjoying trips to the fast food chain "In-N-Out Burger." Way to win them over, Colt!

KFFL will be back from Day 3 of the Scouting Combine tomorrow with more juicy tidbits and notes. While they may not be as juicy as a double-double with animal fries, we're certain your draft hunger will be fulfilled.

In the words of Texas' Charles, "Rain, snow, Jamaal gonna go," and so will KFFL (no, literally, it's raining and snowing here)!


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