2011 NFL Scouting Combine: Day 3 Mid-Day Update

Saturday has proved surprisingly quiet so far.

It seemed, immediately, there was a palpable sense of energy on the media floor upon arrival.  Can't quite put my finger on why -- maybe it was because workouts started today -- but the environment seemed different when I first set up around 9:00 a.m.  

Since then, though, prospects have been slow to trickle in and we've only seen a couple of general managers take the podium (coaches and GMs are mostly finished with the media.)  Former Cincinnati receiver Armon Binns was the first player to arrive and we thought it might be a busy day after that.  But since then, we've only seen a handful of players: Marcell Dareus (Alabama), Cam Jordan (California), Sam Acho (Texas), Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Marvin Austin (North Carolina) and Sione Fua (Stanford.)  There were probably a few more I can't think of off the top of my head, but those guys were the main features this morning and early afternoon.

We paid particular attention to Kerrigan and Austin.  I doubt Kerrigan is available when the Colts draft and he's a defensive end so I doubt the Colts are too enticed to look his way, but Matt and I both agree that he is as impressive a physical specimen as any prospect here.  I mean, whatever percentage of body fat that Dwight Freeney claims, I'm not sure Kerrigan doesn't claim less.  This is a guy who really has a chance to move up draft boards.

Austin, you might recall, dominated the Shrine Bowl after being suspended from the University of North Carolina for the 2010 football season.  To quickly recap the situation, Austin was given free airline tickets on four trips, two of which were trips to train with former Tar Heels Kentwan Balmer and Cam Thomas.  John Blake, former UNC head coach, was subsequently fired for a variety of transgressions...something Austin holds himself personally accountable for.  I'll say this: Austin is a kid who seems to have made a completely forgivable mistake and suffered the consequences for doing so, but I would hardly classify him as a prospect in need of red-flagging.  I don't see character concerns in regards to Austin.  I see a tremendously talented player at a position of need for the Colts, and I think Bill Polian would be incredibly stupid to cross Austin off his board.  Austin conducted himself very well in his press conference and handled hard questions with tact.  My favorite exchange in particular was Austin's response to a question (paraphrased) if he felt he would be included in the discussion with Dareus and Nick Fairley for top defensive lineman in the draft had he not been suspended.

The former Tar Hell just smirked, stared down the reporter and replied: "I feel if I was able to play, there wouldn't be a conversation."

Consider me a believer.

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