Since our noon update, we were granted access to some players. We already published our take on Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod's press conference (or podium gathering in this case.) Sherrod was not the only player of interest to Colts fans today, though. We also listened in on chats with Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, Alabama offensive tackle James Carpenter, Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, Utah guard Caleb Schlauderaff and Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder.
In regards to the offensive tackle crop, Carimi was the buzz word today. The media floor was enamored with the kid's confidence, which could never be mistaken for lacking. As Carimi himself said: "I'm the best tackle out there, so I'm gonna play like it and act like it...I know I can play right away...I'm a draft-ready tackle."
Carimi certainly looks the part. It's easy to understand why so many were impressed with him, and apparently that number is going to continue to rise as a growing number of former dissenters are now projecting him as left tackle-capable as opposed to some original estimations that he could only hold down the fort on the right side. Critics are starting to concede his athleticism, previously questioned.
If you want a polar opposite of Carimi in terms of self-presentation, Solder is your guy. Whereas Carimi believes he is the undisputed champ, Solder was much more diplomatic in his approach, proclaiming that "this group of offensive tackles will sort itself out in time" in terms of talent. Solder also conceded that the worry with excessively-tall tackles is often that they cannot run or bend well enough to play the position, so he has been working on those areas of his game to ensure that critics will not be able to knock him for either. Another reason Solder stands out is his build: 6-9, 319 pounds with an 81-inch wingspan. No, that is not a typo.
More on other players after the jump.
Carpenter, formerly of Alabama, was hard to glean much from. He seemed extremely reserved, and about all I got out of him was that he measured at 6-4 1/2" and 321 pounds and fancies himself a guard at the next level. On the other end of the expression spectrum, Anthony Castonzo came off as very cerebral and eager to engage reporters. Castonzo actually began his career at prep school before enrolling at Boston College because he was not initially recruited out of high school (too tall and skinny for colleges to take him seriously, he said.) He immediately put on weight and worked his way to BC, where he identified his biggest selling point as playing, and playing well, against players who are currently starting in the NFL. Castonzo's biggest goal for the Combine is to show well in speed drills; he wants to be the fastest offensive lineman of this group.
I also had the chance to speak with Schlauderaff, who you may remember as an Indy target of interest from the East-West Shrine Game. I asked Schlauderaff the question that was probably on everyone's mind: in a Combine class full of linemen who prepared themselves for a professional career by playing against SEC, Big 12 or Big 10 competition, how much did he feel playing in the Mountain West Conference prepared him to perform well at the Combine and situate himself to have a good NFL career? Schlauderaff advised that during his time at Utah, the Utes had some challenging out-of-conference opponents and quickly clarified that the MWC was an extremely-underrated conference. He felt the competition was adequate to prepare him to play against the best. I also asked him if the Colts had shown interest in him and he confirmed that they had spoken with him.
That pretty much summarizes our first day at the Combine. Never did catch Indiana offensive tackle James Brewer or USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith, two guys on my target list. I did catch Georgia offensive lineman Clint Boling briefly, but haven't quite sorted out the audio on that one yet. My guess is that we'll have some updates tomorrow, or if we don't, then some guys just didn't show for various reasons (time, medical red flags, etc.) and we'll move on to skill position players tomorrow without much pause.
To give you an idea of what's ahead, if you haven't been following, tomorrow we have quarterbacks, runningbacks and wide receivers up. Saturday features defensive linemen and linebackers, and Sunday is solely reserved for defensive backs. As Matt already said, that means we should have relevant Indy targets to discuss each day.