Today could be summed up in two words: Cam Newton.
It really was the Cam Show today. Despite the fact the day was reserved for defensive linemen and linebackers, Newton managed to steal the show, prompting the vast majority of the media floor to fill the seats and surrounding space around Podium C in the minutes leading up to the former Auburn quarterback's arrival. How much do we care, as Colts fans? Probably very little. I was one of a dozen writers who remained seated, tweeting away as the crowd craned their necks and swelled in anticipation of Newton's emergence at the Baker & Daniels club lobby entrance.
Newton gave the exact speech you would expect him to give, even dropping a few third-person references here and there (I call this "Booby Miles Syndrome.") He read from a script, attempted to charm the crowd and made it a point to reinforce his desire to work hard to justify a high draft choice. So the story wasn't so much Newton's canned speech as it was the media's anticipation of that speech and the suffocating mass that choked Podium C.
Here's a video Matt shot of the whole ordeal:
Wrap-up continues after the jump.
It might have been the Cam Show, but Ryan Mallett did his best to claim some spotlight too...and not the good kind. Mallett spent the better part of his press conference dodging questions about his alleged drug use and character concerns. He was cocky when responding to questions regarding his accuracy ("7,000 plus yards and 60 touchdowns in two seasons, that's how I respond to [questions of accuracy]") and generally performed poorly in the eyes of the press. Consensus on the media floor is that Mallett came off as "Ryan Leaf-y." That won't do much to help his draft stock.
Beyond those two quarterbacks, yes, the day was intended to feature defensive linemen and linebackers. Matt and I had the opportunity to sit in on a few press conferences, some of which were already featured in the mid-day update. Since that time, I had the chance to sit down with former Clemson defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins who dominated the Senior Bowl and prompted me to proclaim him, at the time, a "perfect Colts 3-tech." Jenkins again impressed me in his interview today. He measured in at 6-4, 310 pounds and declared himself as a proven run-stopped seeking to improve his pass-rush skills. Jenkins is modeling his game after Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris and wants to learn to better sack quarterbacks because, as he told me, "sacks get you paid." He was also quick to praise former Auburn guard Lee Ziemba when I asked him to identify the best offensive lineman he had faced in his collegiate career, which is interesting because unbeknownst to Jenkins, Ziemba identified Jenkins as the best defensive lineman he had faced.
Or maybe I just find that interesting. Either way, Jenkins interviewed incredibly well and seems like an eager, bright, talented young player. Not saying he's All-Pro off the bat or anything, but I could definitely see him in the Colts' rotation. He's currently projecting as a second-round pick, so I'm not sure if that's a direction they're seeking to go or not.
I also was able to sit down with former Indiana receiver Tandon Doss, who also interviewed well. As an IU alum (May 2010), of course I'm biased, but Doss is a multi-talented prospect who can, by his own admission: catch the ball, take a handoff, return kicks, chase down punts and play special teams. He did all of those things remarkably well in Bloomington. Doss is currently recovering from a groin tear and will not be running any drills at this year's Combine. Similarly, he will not be able to run at Indiana's Pro Day on Mar. 10 but will have his own Pro Day to showcase his skills on Apr. 6. Doss says he models his game after Reggie Wayne and yearns to run routes with the same precision as the Colts' star receiver, and definitely comes across as a hometown boy (he's a Ben Davis graduate) who would like to be catching passes from Peyton Manning someday soon. Not saying that happens, in fact I doubt it does given the fact Doss is trending toward a first-round pick, but it's worth noting that he was particularly ecstatic when talking about Indianapolis.
There were a few disappointments today. We didn't get to see Stephen Paea (Oregon State), who along with Nick Fairley (Auburn) never showed up today. Also, both Boise State wide receivers I had been waiting to interview, Titus Young and Austin Pettis, were quite literally snuck in and out of the room, with few writers given any chance to speak with them. I'm especially disappointed about the latter. It's possible my side of the room just had bad luck with timing, but consensus over here was that nobody was ever aware Pettis had entered the room (it appeared on the transcript that he was interviewed by one, maybe two reporters) and Young was rushed in during a busy time and spent only a handful of minutes at the podium deflecting questions about his suspension before being rushed back out. I found it odd that both Boise State wide receivers were so stealthily inserted and yanked into the media room setting and can't help but wonder whether it was just an odd coincidence or if there is more to that story.
That wraps up Saturday. Tomorrow is our final day here at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine and will feature defensive backs only, along with whatever spillover press conferences remain (like Fairley or Paea.) Tomorrow's drills will feature skill position players (quarterbacks, runningbacks, wide receivers) and usually proves to be one of the more interesting drill days of the Combine.
We'll have another open thread tomorrow, so feel free to join us there.