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Posted by nickwagoner on February 27, 2011 – 9:45 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- It’s been a long week here in Indianapolis and for the scouts and coaches here, there is still plenty of work to be done in the next couple of days.

- As for us, this will be the sign off post but don’t worry, there’s plenty of more stuff I haven’t gotten to write about or work on from here and I’ll be hitting on those topics in the coming days and weeks.

- In the meantime, thanks for reading and following our coverage all week here at Lucas Oil Stadium. Be sure to check in with Rams COO/Vice President of Football Operations Kevin Demoff for his chat on Tuesday. And we’ll have more good stuff to come along the way.


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LSU CB Patrick Peterson Speaks

Posted by nickwagoner on February 27, 2011 – 9:04 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- LSU CB Patrick Peterson might be the most dynamic player in the draft. He can cover, he can run, he can tackle and he can return.

- On Sunday, he talked to the assembled media about a variety of topics. Here’s his thoughts on a few issues.  

Goal to run

I definitely want to run a 4.2, if not in the low 4.3s.

Opinion that you might be best as safety down the line

I mean, just a lot of guys talking. I feel my best game is at cornerback. If an NFL team needs me to play the safety position, I’m definitely more than willing to transition my game to the safety position.

Teams talk about safety

No. They haven’t come to me about changing positions to safety, but if it so happen happens, then I’ll just have to live with it.

Why leave early

I believe I achieved all the goals I went to LSU for, which was to win the Jim Thorpe and the Bednarik. I wanted to give a push and run for the Heisman, but fortunately Cam Newton won it. I believe I left LSU in good hands with the great secondary guys they’ve got there. I just wanted to take my game to the next level and that’s pursue an NFL career.

What makes you the best corner in the draft

I’d probably say my ball skills, toughness, I can support the run. I’m an all-around cornerback and that’s what I wanted to do coming out of college. I definitely want to continue that trend going into the NFL.

Prince Akmukamara

Prince is a tremendous athlete, I was just hanging out with Prince. Me and Prince, we’re definitely tight. We met up in Orlando and exchanged numbers and we’ve been buddies ever since. He’s just excited and I’m excited as well to perform Tuesday and for April 28.

Weight

I feel pretty swift the way I am, I feel fast, I feel quick, I feel more fluid at the weight I am right now. I don’t want to go out there and try to kill myself trying to lose weight because I have very little body fat (he said later 7 percent). I believe I’m good at the weight I’m at right now.

Playing in SEC make you better

It could have been even better if I could play those guys each and every week. In the NFL it’s the Joneses and Greens each and every Sunday. It was a fun experience. I got a chance to go up against Julio Jones three years straight. I got a chance to go up against A.J. Green two years straight. Those guys definitely helped me elevate my game to the next level each and every time we played.

How many TDs give up last year

One. Julio Jones.

Who’s best you’ve faced, him or AJ Green

That’s kind of tough. Both of those guys are good. That’s a tough position to put me in. I don’t want those guys coming after me. Both of those guys are good caliber athletes. They’ve got different styles of play. It’s tough for me to pick one.

Elevate your game, what can you work on

I want to work on my zone coverage. We barely did that at LSU. A lot of people are saying I can’t backpedal and things like that, but I definitely can. I was just going through the style of play that coach Cooper and coach Saban taught me. I definitely want to show the media, all you guys, that I can backpedal and change direction as well.

 

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Some More Combine Numbers

Posted by nickwagoner on February 27, 2011 – 7:09 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- As the skill position players continue to go through the paces, Alabama WR Julio Jones is not the only one to impress. In fact, it appears that this class is loaded with really athletic players at the skill spots, particularly among the guys perceived to be first round talents.

- The running backs are getting ready to go but the receivers and quarterbacks have already wowed scouts.

- At quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton and Jake Locker, generally considered the top three signal callers in this draft, lived up to the hype in their drills.

- Newton clocked an impressive 4.59 in the 40-yard dash and also knocked out an even more impressive broad jump of 10 feet, 6 inches. It’s hard to argue with Newton’s combination of size, skill and athleticism. Don’t be shocked if he ends up going to the Panthers with the top pick when it’s all said and done.

- Gabbert didn’t throw but he did do the workout and ran a solid 4.62 in the 40, which isn’t to shabby for a guy with his size.

- Locker burned it up with a 4.59, which was the best among quarterbacks save for speedy Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor. Taylor posted a 4.51.

- Among the other receivers to run, Georgia’s A.J. Green clocked a 4.49 and 4.51 in the unofficial times. Not quite at Jones’ level but still pretty impressive for a player his size.

- Maryland WR Torrey Smith ran a 4.43 as expected. But it was Abilene Christian’s Edmond Gates and Fort Valley State’s Ricardo Lockette coming in with 4.37s to lead the group at receiver.

- Miami’s Leonard Hankerson, who some believe is a riser on draft boards also ran a 4.43.

- More on the running backs, who are running 40s right now as it becomes available.


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Jones Impressive in Workouts

Posted by nickwagoner on February 27, 2011 – 6:03 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- There are plenty of people in the mock draft community that have pegged Alabama WR Julio Jones for the Rams with the 14th pick in this year’s NFL Draft. But after his performance in front of the NFL world on Sunday morning, don’t be surprised if he doesn’t even make it into the double digits of the draft.

- Already an impressive physical specimen who measured in at a shade under 6’3, 220 pounds, some questioned just how athletic Jones is. But those questions have been put to rest. Emphatically.

- In unofficial times from the NFL Network, Jones ran times of 4.39 and 4.43 in the 40-yard dash. But word from inside is that Jones actually clocked in the mid 4.3s on the attempt reported to be at 4.39.

- As if that wasn’t enough, Jones proved even more of an athletic freak when he jumped 42 inches in the vertical and then a ridiculous 11 feet, 3 inches in the broad jump.

- I’ve maintained for a while that I thought Jones would go in the top 10. Now I have no doubt.


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Secondary First Priority on Combine Day 4

Posted by nickwagoner on February 27, 2011 – 5:53 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- Greetings again from Lucas Oil Stadium for the fourth and final day of this combine from a media perspective. Today is a busy day as the defensive backs will be coming through the media room and the offensive skill position players are working out for the scouts. We’ll keep you updated on the happenings from the media room and out on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.

- Keep an eye on the 40 times of the running backs and wide receivers. Scouts don’t based their opinions on these workouts and 40 times but they do gain information and they can be influential in deciding between a couple of players.

- As for the defensive backs, the Rams could use help in the secondary so we’ll keep an eye on safeties and corners as well as try to catch up with a few linebackers and defensive tackles that didn’t make it to the media room yesterday. UCLA’s Akeem Ayers, Auburn’s Nick Fairley and Illinois’ Corey Liuget among those.

- Stay tuned for more.


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Wrapping Up Day 3

Posted by nickwagoner on February 27, 2011 – 12:53 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- That will do it for the third day of the combine as the defensive player started making their way through. I’ll be hitting the chat in just a little bit if you want to get in some more questions. But first a few thoughts on a wild day in Indy.

- Auburn QB Cam Newton made his long anticipated appearance in the media room today. I’m not sure he did much to throw water on the comments he made about being an entertainer or icon by referring to himself in the third person but he did seem humble and engaging. And here’s the bottom line on Newton: at the end of the day, he might be borderline cocky but he’s one of the most talented players in the draft and he has backed up every word he’s said. He should be a top five pick, in my opinion. No question.

- Alabama WR Julio Jones also finally made his way into the media room. Impressive kid. He might be soft spoken but you can just tell that he loves football and he wants to be great at it. The possibility of him as a Ram is extremely exciting though I’m still not sure he’ll be on the board when the Rams make their pick.

- Cal DE Cameron Jordan was also an impressive kid. Might be best suited as a three technique in a 4-3 or a five technique in a 3-4.

- Texas A&M LB Von Miller is an extremely talented and polite kid. Hearing that he can play in a 4-3 with no problems. Only issue is he probably comes off the board in the top five. He has generated that much buzz here.

- Expect Mizzou DE Aldon Smith to blow away a lot of the competition at his position on Monday. He’ll rise quickly up boards if that happens.

- Also enjoyed speaking with Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn. You see him on television and think he’s a bit pudgy but he’s a pretty rock solid 281 pounds. Kid has major potential and versatility.

- Great to see Pat Shurmur who seems extremely happy and content in his new job as Browns head coach. Wish him the absolute best in his new gig and with the support he has around him, I have little doubt he’ll do well in Cleveland. That’s a city that needs some hope from its sports team and here’s hoping Shurmur provides it (save for one TBD date next season when the Rams come to town).

- That’s all for tonight. I’ll be in the chat in a little bit to knock out some questions. Back tomorrow to discuss some more linebackers and a few defensive backs. Until then, good night all.


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Mizzou DE Aldon Smith Speaks

Posted by nickwagoner on February 27, 2011 – 12:39 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- At 6’4, 264 pounds with the type of athleticism that would make some NBA small forwards blush, Mizzou DE Aldon Smith is one of the most popular and intriguing players at this year’s combine.

- Smith met with the media Saturday afternoon and though he’s a man of few words, he made his point clear: He believes were it not for a leg injury suffered last season, he would be deemed one of the best prospects in the draft regardless of position. And now he’s come here to put on the kind of workout that will boost his stock potentially into the top 10 of April’s Draft.

- Smith said he has been scheduled for 28 interviews in the formal sessions. Teams get just 60 of those formal interviews so only four don’t want to speak with Smith. Again, he’s a popular man.

- Here’s what he had to say…

(on entering the draft early)

I got the grade back from the NFL. It was a second round grade and I thought the situation I was in I was hurt and I was an underclassman and I thought that was pretty good. I thought I had a chance to move myself up a little bit.

(On weight)

I weighed 264. I’ve had both. I’ve had a lot of 3-4 and a lot of 4-3. I think wherever I can help a team. I have gained a lot of weight since the offseason. I have gained about 10 pounds and I feel great.

(On pass rushing ability)

For some people it’s natural and for some it takes learning.

(On versatility)

I would say it (does help). Definitely when you work inside it helps you out because you get more pass rush and you get more chance to get to the quarterback.

(On dropping in coverage)

I would like it. I love playing on two feet. The little bit I did at Missouri, I liked it.

(on wishing he could have come out last year)

It would have been nice if I could.

(On his leg)

The leg is fine. I got some x rays today actually and it’s the best I have seen my leg since I was back in school. It looks real good to me.

(on questions about his leg)

They all thought it was an ankle because I guess they thought it was lower but other than that it wasn’t a big deal.

(On when he first realized he had pass rush burst)

I think my first sack. My coach pulled me aside before my first game and let me know I had a special ability and I kind of thought about it and I took it. That was in high school at Raytown High School in Kansas City.

(On how his time at Mizzou helped him)

It helped me mature a lot off the field and on the field and definitely just learning the game a lot more and get more experience.

(On getting to this point in the process)

It’s amazing. The dream is getting closer and closer.

(On working out)

I think I can (put on a show). What I have been told is if I just be myself, I’ll get a chance to really do well.

(On a realistic 40 time)

I think somewhere between the 4.6s and 4.7s.

(On how he can stand out above the rest of a talented DE class)

I think be myself, just show off my abilities. Everybody talks about me in different ways, and I think what separates me apart is just me being athletic.

(On where he ranks himself among the DE’s)

I would say I am up there with them. I have seen how they’ve done, I’ve watched a lot of them and I just try to learn how they do things and how they get sacks. I guess I’ve bit off a little bit of their game to try to add it to mine.

(On his wingspan)

I don’t remember what it was. I was wondering the same thing.

I think my versatility, being able to drop, being athletic. I think it’s something that a lot of people don’t know is stopping the run and helping out in that area, too.

(on playing 3 technique some at NFL level)

If they put me in that position I think I’ll be able to do it.


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Texas A&M LB Von Miller Speaks

Posted by nickwagoner on February 27, 2011 – 12:37 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- Widely regarded as the top linebacker in this year’s draft class, Texas A&M’s Von Miller took the stage Saturday afternoon and discussed his standing in this year’s NFL Draft. 

What have you done to help you excel at the combine?

“I’ve just been taking it day by day, trying to maximize my days, and working real hard with all those guys out in Orange County: Jake Locker, Ryan Kerrigan, he pushes us all. I’m out there with a great group of guys.”

 Height, weight?

 6-2 1/2, 246.

 About your stock rising because of Senior Bowl performance?

 “Honestly, I haven’t even noticed it. I’ve just been taking it day by day, one day at a time. That’s for all the fans and stuff, that’s for my mom and ‘nem. I just take it day by day and trying to maximize my days and come April, see where I end up.”

  Working out?

 I’ve been working out real hard. I’ve been working out with Ryan Kerrigan, so that had to come from somewhere.”

 Why did your sacks drop so much from your junior to senior year?

 “Probably because wins went up. We had a better defense this year. I had more responsibilities this year, more responsibilities in coverage. We were winning games, so the sacks really didn’t matter to me. As long as we were winning games, I was good.”

 How much did the ankle injury affect you early?

 “In football, you are going to get hurt, you’re going to have injuries. So honestly, it really didn’t affect me none. I really couldn’t go full speed or anything like that but we were still winning games. We were still playing good football, good defense. Everything was all good with me.”

 How were you able to put on some weight?

“I been eating like crazy. It’s all been good weight, though.”

 What did you play at this year?

“I started the season at about 243 and ended about 237.”

What are you going to bring to the table for the team that picks you?

“First and foremost, I’m going to be a great teammate. I’m a team guy. That’s how I play football. That’s how we were able to win the games that we won at Texas A&M. We didn’t have all the talent in the world, but we had a great team. We had great chemistry in the locker room. I’ll be a rookie, whatever those guys want me to do, I’ll be happy to do it. Just find me way, find my role. Whatever it takes to get on the field, that’s what I’ll do.”

What players do you admire?

“I like the way Clay Matthews plays. I like all those guys, DeMarcus Ware. I just try to be the best player I can be. I really can’t be any of those great players but Clay Matthews, his fanatical effort to the ball and all of that stuff, I try to accumulate that into my game. I can never ever play like Clay Matthews but the way he attacks the ball, his relentless effort to the football, I can do that, though.”

Mike Sherman has said you matured over the last year. Do you think that’s true, since you decided to stay in Aggieland for your Sr year.

“A little bit. I’m still the same guy I was last year. But when you got young guys looking at you, you got to grow up real fast. I wanted to set a good example for all my teammates and all my brothers back at Texas A&M. You are going to mess up some days but I just tried to stack days and be the best leader I could be.”

So many teams running a 3-4 now, is this a perfect time to be coming out of a college as an outside linebacker with pass rush skills?

“It’s a great time to be a linebacker. It’s a great time to be a linebacker every year. I don’t just label myself as an outside 3-4 linebacker. I want to be the best defensive player in this year’s draft. That may be in a 3-4, a 4-3, a 5-2, I just want to play football and get on the field.”

Why did you feel like you needed to gain weight?

“Honestly, I didn’t even know I put on that weight. I was just working hard just trying to maximize days, finish all my reps and eating all my food. I was just trying to work out at the best of my ability. I hadn’t weighed myself for about a week and half. I stepped on the scale and it said, ‘246’, I was like, ‘whoa.’ I just want to be the best football player I can be. I just want to get bigger, stronger, faster. And I guess I’m really bigger.”

Playing for Mike Sherman?

“It’s great. Coach Sherman is like a father to me. He’s never, ever lied to me. He’s always gave me great advice and directed me in the right way. He’s been part of every major decision I’ve had, all the way up from my freshman year. I just love coach Sherman. Most people think he’s really a tough guy like that, but he has a dry sense of humor. I love everything about that program. I love Texas A&M, love Coach Sherman and what we got done this year.” 

Where do you fit in a 4-3?

 “My God-given ability is speed off the edge, just rushing. I can drop back into coverage and do all that other stuff, too, but what God has blessed me with is pass rushing off the edge.”


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Alabama WR Julio Jones Speaks

Posted by nickwagoner on February 26, 2011 – 9:18 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- After waiting more than a day to get him, Alabama WR Julio Jones finally made his combine appearance in front of the media.

- The soft spoken receiver checked in just under 6’3 and 220 pounds. And though that’s about an inch shorter than his listed height, he certainly looks the part.

- A couple of thoughts before I post some excerpts: Jones says he looked up to Baltimore LB Ray Lewis and Pittsburgh WR Hines Ward. Safe to say you can’t question his toughness or mentality.

- Also, Jones shared that he knows Rams QB Sam Bradford from his visit to Oklahoma when he was going through the recruiting process. He’s a fan of Bradford’s as you’ll see shortly.

- Here’s some quick hits from Jones’ meeting with the media:

(On how he stacks up to other wideouts in draft)

There’s some great receivers out there. I hope they pick me but if not and they pick someone else, that’s fine because all those guys out there are great.

(On how he improved his hands)

My hands were never an issue. It was just that I always tried to catch too fast. So I told myself to play fast but not hurry.

(On possibly working with Sam Bradford)

He’s a great quarterback. But I’d love to catch a pass from any player in the NFL right now.

(On his recruiting trip to OU)

It was great. Sam is a great guy. He’s very humble. Overall he’s a great guy. He really wasn’t trying to put too much pressure on me. He was just trying to show me what Oklahoma has to offer and stuff like that. That’s about it.

(Was there ever really any doubt you’d go to Alabama?)

No. I thought about it but at the end of the day I am from Alabama, why not play at the University of Alabama?

(On how he compares himself to AJ Green)

We are both big, playmakers. We get open as well. AJ is a great guy, he’s been working with me in Phoenix as well. We are just two different guys.

(On guys he likes to model himself after)

I like to play with passion. Ray Lewis, I love how he plays. Hines Ward, I love the way he blocks and he’s committed on every play.

(On saying the player he looks up to most is a defensive player like Ray Lewis)

I have a defensive mentality. I am not scared to hit. I’m a physical guy. I look for that. I like to hit defensive players because they are not used to getting hit. They are used to hitting offensive players and getting them out of their comfort zone so when I hit them I try to get them out of their comfort zone.

(On if he has a preference of type of offense to play in)

It really doesn’t matter. I played in a pro set at Alabama. They taught me a lot; the way to block and everything else. I can play West Coast, I did in high school. I can play pretty much anything.

(On what he needs to improve)

Everything is very precise at that level. I have to work on route running, catching the ball, getting in and out of breaks and reading defenses as well.


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Meeting of the Minds in Indy

Posted by nickwagoner on February 26, 2011 – 9:03 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -

- Former Rams offensive coordinator turned Browns head coach Pat Shurmur just came through the media room and shared his thoughts on his new position as well as some leftover Rams thoughts.

- Shurmur seems very happy in his new job but had a lot of really nice things to say about Steve Spagnuolo, Sam Bradford and his time in St. Louis.

- He also shared that he went to a pretty special dinner on Friday night.

- As President of the Browns, Mike Holmgren is the man who hired Shurmur but long before that he actually gave Andy Reid a chance which turned into Reid becoming the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Since then, Reid has spawned off one of the most impressive coaching trees imaginable and by far the most impressive in the league.

- All of those branches reunited for dinner Friday night as Reid hosted the other guys holding head coaching jobs at a local Indianapolis restaraunt. That list includes Shurmur, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier, Carolina coach Ron Rivera and Baltimore coach John Harbaugh. At some point, each served an apprenticeship under Reid.

- Shurmur provided no further details but it’s safe to assume there was a lot of great stories and football knowledge shared at that table.


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