What kind of day was it for us on Thursday, well, me in particular? I spent about 100 minutes watching punters and kickers do their thing on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf.
And, that was exciting!
If you know how little I really care about kickers and punters, you know that’s saying something, but the Groundhog Day feel of the NFL scouting combine hit me about lunchtime.
The real fun starts tomorrow, though, when the offensive lineman and running backs workout on Friday morning. That’s the true start to the combine. Here are a few observations from the day to get you through day two.
1. Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith had their days at the podium in Indianapolis, which had the Houston media in attendance buzzing for sure.
2. Ironically, at the exact same time, on the other end of the room, quarterbacks Christian Hackenberg and Connor Cook were meeting with the media. I ran back and forth like I was doing the 20-yard shuttle in the media room. I think I ran over Mary Kay Cabot from Cleveland in the process. Sorry, MK.
3. Either way, the media questioned O'Brien and Smith nine different times about the connection of O’Brien and Hackenberg. Hackenberg was asked a few times about O’Brien as well. Seems the media wanted to know a bit more about those two.
4. After Hackenberg’s media session, Marc Vandermeer ran down Hackenberg to get a mini 1-on-1 with him. Marc chased Hack down like Hack stole Marc’s dessert. That, along with getting knocked off the air during a game, is the one thing you just don’t do to Marc Vandermeer. You just don’t take his dessert.
5. Cook’s media session was about as I expected. He’s won some awfully big games at Michigan State in his career, so I knew he’d step up to the plate. And, he did extremely well. The one thing I’ll say about Cook, as I would about Carson Wentz and Hackenberg, the lights won’t ever be too bright. They may fail eventually but it won’t be because they panicked under pressure.
6. Wentz blew away the assembled media with his poise and cool, but we already knew he was going to do that. We met with him at the Senior Bowl. He’ll be WAY gone by the time pick No. 22 comes around, but doesn’t mean you can’t go get him if you like him. That dude gets it.
7. Ole Miss wideout Laquon Treadwell may have had the quote of the day when he was asked who was the toughest guy to face. He said “I mean, it’s college. I wouldn’t consider anyone tough in college.”
8. He did eventually answer the question and pointed out Cyrus Jones at Alabama and “that guy from Florida. Not Hargreaves. The young guy” He clarified later saying that he was matched up with Florida sophomore star corner Jalen Tabor, and not top ten projected pick Vernon Hargreaves, for much of the matchup in October. But, it raised a few eyebrows in the room for sure. It also helped me because it confirmed how I felt about Tabor heading into the 2016 season for the Gators. Thanks Laquon.
9. Ezekiel Elliott was obviously asked about his remarks after the loss to Michigan State and he didn’t really back down from his comments. He noted that he learned a lot about that moment and knew he should’ve handled it better. But, he added that he thought teams might like to see how emotional he is about the game and that he wants the ball in crunch time. Interesting to see how teams respond to his answer to that situation after they interview him this week.
10. Inside the bowl, FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo was impressive as all get out. He hit every kickoff 8 yards deep in the end zone. Every time. I just can’t help but think what a touchback on every kickoff would mean for this Texans defense in 2016 and beyond.
11. One drill the Combine instructors had the kickers do was something I’d never seen before. They asked the holder to squat five yards from the goal post, take the snap and place the ball. The kickers then had to get the ball up in the air and above the cross-bar. The purpose was to simulate getting the ball up in the air as a kicker would need to over a kick rush.
12. TAMU punter Drew Kaser hit a few bombs during punting sessions which was cool to see, you know Aggies and all.
There will be much more to tomorrow as there’s actual football going on. Well, sort of, but it's better than a bunch of media sessions, no?