The 2009 NFL Scouting Combine has been picking up steam today. The quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers are weighing in and speaking to the media. It also is the first day of physical drills, and the tight ends, offensive linemen, punters and kickers are going through measurable tests.
Those tests are held behind closed doors at Lucas Oil Stadium, separating the media from the players and pro personnel. Members of the media hate not having behind-the-scenes access, and this year they are even more upset because they get very little interaction with general managers, coaches and scouts.
For over a decade, the combine was held at the RCA Dome in Indy, but this year the event has moved to the Colt's new stadium. The media is camped out in the food court with writers like NFL.com's Pat Kirwan and Sports Illustrated's Peter King setting up shop. In the center of the room, there are three platforms where the players, GMs and coaches address the media.
There are several highly anticipated players talked today: Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Ohio State running back Chris Wells.
This morning, Stafford said he will not throw during drills on Saturday, which is the same approach Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan took last year at the combine. Stafford will wait for his pro day to test his arm for scouts. Stafford also told reporters that he had dinner with the Detroit Lions Thursday night and was the first player the Lions met with at the combine.
Crabtree, who has been training with Olympic track star Michael Johnson, said he does not plan to run the 40-yard dash because he is not 100 percent since hurting his ankle last season.
Most scouts have told me that not participating in those tests won't affect Stafford or Crabtree's draft stock. They are considered the top prospects in their respective positions.
People also are buzzing about Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy, brother of former Texans wideout LeRon McCoy. LeSean said he caught the flu this past week and lost weight. He was coughing during his stint at the podium and said he did not plan to participate in the bench-press test.
Finally, Sanchez told the media he will participate in all the combine drills. He had lunch with the Rams on Thursday and plans to meet with a slew of teams over the next few days. He compared the intense one-on-one interview sessions with teams to speed dating.