It was another rich and full day at the 2011 NFL Combine. Staring at me from beside my laptop, where a frosty beer should be, is a tape recorder packed with prospect interview and a data phone crammed to the gills with data. Let me hit a few highlights on the day, before the NFL media staff tosses us out of Lucas Oil Stadium.
First and foremost, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Cam Newton press conference. It was every bit the spectacle you saw on TV and read about on the internet. Whether or not his ability translates to the field remains to be seen, but there is no denying his star power. I can only compare it to when I worked in Aspen, CO and Jack Nicholson would make an appearance. Same thing, except I suspect Newton outdraws the Oscar winner at this point.
One of the most interesting players I talked to today was Central Michigan LB Nick Bellore, someone the Rams talked to at the East-West Shrine Game last month. Humble with a thick Wisconsin brogue, his tales from the football exuded the kind of toughness you expect from a former hockey player. The season before last, against rival Western Michigan, a nasty hit tore Bellore's jaw molar to molar. He refused to leave the game, soaked in blood. "I made it look a little glorious," the linebacker admitted.
And what exactly does Bellore bring besides a Curt Schilling's knack for marketing. "You'll always see me around the ball," said the three-year captain. He's mostly talked with teams about playing on the inside, but he has played on the weakside.
DeMarco Murray knows full well the long history of Oklahoma running backs in the NFL. He keeps in touch with Adrian Peterson...and Sam Bradford. Asked about potentially sharing the load in the NFL, he noted that sharing carries was something he did at OU. As for his greatest strength, the 6' 213 lbs runner said without hesitation it was his elusiveness. On the flip side, he echoed scouting reports concerning his need to raise his knees while running. Murray is also an eager kick returner, something he loves to do and something the Rams could really use.
I talked about Julio Jones' defensive player mentality in an earlier post, that was by far the most notable thing about his session. His humility also stood out. Jones refused to say whether or not he was better than A.J. Green. His cocky-free confidence made me wonder whether or not this guy was actually a receiver (does he not have an end zone celebration planned yet?) but a safety that somehow stumbled into another role. The Rams need to draft this kid.
Lots more coming.