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Friday Scouting Combine notebook

Posted Feb 21, 2014

A visit with Bill Polian and highlights from Thursday at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.


INDIANAPOLIS – First round draft picks are the most widely discussed selections among fans, many writers and media members.

But for former Bills, Panthers and Colts top executive Bill Polian, now an analyst for ESPN and Sirius/XM Radio, success in deeper rounds can help sustain long-term success.

“I know they (Jaguars) are focused on a complete draft,” Polian said. “The fans get focused on the number one pick, but they (Jaguars) are focused on trying to get as many good players as they can and make this draft where you have a premium position in each round, which is important.”

Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell worked under Polian with the Panthers and the Colts.

“(They need) to get this in a situation where they come out of here with four or five players who are long-term contributors,” Polian said.

Polian sees Jaguars taking best available player at No. 3

Polian also said that he sees the Jaguars taking the best available player on the board with the No. 3 overall draft pick, but not necessarily a quarterback.

“I can tell you this, they’re going to take the best football player that’s on the board,” Polian said. “At what position, I’m not sure. They’ll take the guy that they have the highest rating on, and they won’t be wrong because there are a lot of needs that they have to fill.

“They’re just going to try to get a premier football player and they will.”

Top QB prospects with question marks

Polian added that some of the top quarterback prospects, including Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel, each have something that “isn’t quite 100 percent.”

“In the scouting community, they tell you that those are the top three (quarterbacks),” Polian said. “Teddy (Bridgewater) had an outstanding career at Louisville, and except for his weight he’s pretty much top shelf in every capacity.”

For Johnny Manziel, his playing style and height could cause hesitation for a team looking for a quarterback. 

“Johnny (Manziel) has a unique style. If he is six-feet he’s going to be below the norm. I don’t think there’s an arm-strength issue with him.”

With Blake Bortles, his lack of quarterbacking experience might give a team pause before making a selection.

“(Blake) Bortles is ideal in terms of the height and weight, and probably speed I would guess. Arm strength is good, accuracy is good. He developed a lot from the beginning of the year to the end. That said, he hadn’t played a lot of quarterback as (Central Florida head coach) George O’Leary said.

“They all have something that isn’t quite 100 percent, and whether that adds up to making that pick remains to be seen. You have to weigh it against who might be available there (at number three).”

Philbin vows improvement in Dolphins workplace

Not originally scheduled to speak with the media in Indianapolis, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin changed course the morning after the announcement of the firing of the Dolphins offensive line coach and athletic trainer.

Philbin was the first on the podium at 9:45 a.m., and claimed responsibility for the workplace environment of the Miami Dolphins in the wake of the Incognito/Martin scandal. 

“I want everybody to know – I’m the one that’s responsible for the workplace environment at the Miami Dolphins facility,” Philbin said. “When they leave the facility, we have a message board, a TV board, and it says on it: 24/7/365. It’s a reminder that we all represent one another.”

Philbin said that the findings in the report from NFL investigator Ted Wells were unacceptable and changes will be made.

“I think you can imagine, when I read the report, some of the facts, the behavior, the language that was outlined in the report is inappropriate and it’s unacceptable. We’re going to do things about it. We’re going to make it better. We’re going to uncover every stone and we’re going to have a better work place. I promise you that.”

Whisenhunt in “no rush to make a decision” on RB Chris Johnson

New Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt has been on the job since mid-January, and on Thursday answered questions about the future of Titans running back Chris Johnson.  

“It's a process you go through with everyone on your football team,” Whisenhunt said. “Putting together the team is not an exact science. So we're under no deadline to do it. We have a lot of things to evaluate going forward. Chemistry's a big part of it. There's no rush to make a decision."

Johnson rushed for 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2009, but was held to 1,077 yards in 2013, with an average of 3.9 yards per carry. He signed a four-year contract extension in 2011. 

Matthews says Manziel was “all over the place”

Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews is considered by most as a high draft pick in 2014, but answered a series of questions about a college teammate who could be drafted ahead of him.  

“Ever since Johnny (Manziel) took over (as Texas A&M quarterback), I’ve been answering this question a lot,” Matthews said. “You really never know what to expect; he’s all over the place (playing style). At the same time you have to take what comes with it because the guy makes plays. He’s proved it game after game. I’m just trying to go out there and give him time and let him do what he does.”

Matthews also said the idea of Manziel being a “me-first” player is inaccurate.

“I don’t consider him a ‘me-first’ guy at all. My whole experience with him as a quarterback was nothing but good things. When he was out on the field, he was just a tremendous competitor, great leader, someone I loved playing for.

“I was glad to have him as my quarterback.”

Matthews proud of Joeckel

Matthews added that his relationship with Jaguars left tackle Luke Joeckel has helped during the pre-draft process.

“We came in together at (Texas) A&M, and we always worked out together and competed against each other,” Matthews said.

Matthews, the son of Hall of Fame lineman Bruce Matthews, said that Joeckel has given him advice that his father could not.

“My dad was a little older, he didn’t go through this exact (pre-draft) process, but Luke has,” Matthews said. “I’ve talked to him (Joeckel) a little bit about it, what to expect, and he’s been telling me nothing but good things getting me ready. He’s been a great resource for me to have.”

“(I’m) just real excited to see where he’s come and real proud of him too. He’s a great player.”

Su’a-Filo modeling his game

UCLA offensive guard Xavier Su’a-Filo is rated the second-best offensive guard prospect in the 2014 draft class by CBSSports.com, but said that he watches a particular type of NFL guard to model his game – any nasty ones.

“I watch a lot of guys who I try to pattern my game after,” Su’a-Filo said. “I watch a lot of Logan Mankins of the New England Patriots. I think Logan, he was a high draft pick, he’s physical, he’s a bad-ass, he started from day one in New England.

“And I love how nasty he is.”

This article is presented by Turner Pest Control.

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