JACKSONVILLE – Late February is upon us, and in NFL circles that means it's combine time.
That means many things, because the NFL Scouting Combine – which begins Tuesday – is more than just scouts, general managers and coaches watching the nation's top college prospects sprint, jump and throw in really tight, bright outfits.
It's indeed one part NFL scouting nirvana, but it's also …
One part media free-for-all …
One part free-agency preview …
One part NFL convention …
Put those parts together, and what you'll have during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine Tuesday through Monday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., is the busiest, most-hectic gathering of the 2016 NFL offseason.
And jaguars.com will be there. Here's a look at what to expect this week:
Players arrive in Indianapolis and go through the combine in position groups. The days players speak to the media are different than the days they do on-field work, so the combine you watch on NFL Network often feels different than the one you read about online. Running backs, offensive linemen and specialists begin arriving Tuesday, with the schedule breaking down as follows:
*Wednesday: Media interviews for running backs, offensive linemen, specialists.
*Thursday: Media interviews for quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends.
*Friday: Media interviews for defensive linemen, linebackers; on-field workouts for running backs, offensive linemen, specialists.
*Saturday: Media interviews for defensive backs; on-field workouts for quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends.
*Sunday: On-field workouts for defensive linemen, linebackers.
*Monday: On-field workouts for defensive backs.
The combine is big for media for several reasons. One is a chance to interview college prospects in a group setting, but the other is a chance to hear from coaches and general managers around the NFL – often for one of the first times since the end of the previous season. Not all coaches and general managers speak publicly at the combine, but Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Gus Bradley do. Bradley is scheduled to speak Thursday at 10:30 a.m. with Caldwell scheduled to speak Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
Jaguars.com combine coverage will begin Tuesday and run through Saturday. Jaguars.com live with John Oehser and J.P. Shadrick is scheduled for Tuesday at noon, Wednesday at noon, Thursday at 3 p.m. and Friday at noon. Caldwell will join jaguars.com live Thursday and Bradley is scheduled to join the show Friday. Inside the Jaguars is scheduled Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with stories, interviews and analysis throughout the week.
The combine technically has nothing to do with free agency, but with the entire NFL world gathered in downtown Indianapolis, the upcoming free-agency period will be a major topic throughout the week. The free-agency period begins March 9, the start of the new league year. The franchise/transition tag window remains open through March 1, and teams can use the tag to limit one of their free agent's ability to negotiate with other teams until then.
Positions to watch this week
Defensive tackle is considered the strongest area in this year's draft, with wide receiver not considered as strong as it has been the last two years. The Jaguars enter the offseason with needs at edge rusher, defensive line, linebacker, secondary and offensive line. Here's a look at the top players in the 2016 NFL Draft at those positions:
NFL Media Draft Analyst Mike Mayock's Top 5: 1, Joey Bosa, Ohio State; 2, Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky; 3, Shaq Lawson, Clemson; 4, Leonard Floyd, Georgia; 5, Kevin Dodd, Clemson.
Comment: This is a position that makes sense for the Jaguars in the Top 5, and many mock drafts project them to take Bosa at No. 5 overall. Spence has major off-field issues but a strong Senior Bowl has some projecting him in the Top 10.
Mayock's Top 5: 1, Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame; 2, Myles Jack, UCLA; 3, Reggie Ragland, Alabama; 4, Darron Lee, Ohio State; 5, Deion Jones, LSU.
Comment: Smith sustained a serious knee injury late last season that could make it difficult for teams to take him in the Top 10. Jack has elite-level coverage ability and athleticism for the position and is projected by many in the Top 5.
Mayock's Top 5: 1, Karl Joseph, West Virginia; 2, Vonn Bell, Ohio State; 3, Darien Thompson, Boise State; 4, Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah; 5, Jeremy Cash, Duke.
Comment: This list is glaringly incomplete because Jalen Ramsey of Florida State isn't on it. He's on Mayock's list as a cornerback, but has elite free-safety skill and could play there in the NFL. That's a major position of need for the Jaguars, which makes him a popular choice among analysts to the Jaguars at No. 5.
Mayock's Top 5: 1, DeForest Buckner, Oregon; 2, Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss; 3, Sheldon Rankins, Louisville; 4, Jarran Reed, Alabama; 5, A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama.
Comment: If Bosa and Ramey are gone, Buckner could get serious consideration for the Jaguars at No. 5. The pre-combine buzz around him is strong in some circles and his versatility could make him intriguing.
Mayock's Top 5 (guard): 1, Cody Whitehair, Kansas State; 2, Vadal Alexander, LSU; 3, Joshua Garnett, Stanford; 4, Christian Westerman, Arizona State; 5, Graham Glasgow, Michigan.
Mayock's Top 5 (center): 1, Ryan Kelly, Alabama; 2, Nick Martin, Notre Dame; 3, Max Tuerk, USC; 4, Evan Boehm, Missouri; 5, Jack Allen, Michigan State.
Comment: This isn't an area the Jaguars are likely to address in the Top 5, but could they address interior offensive line later in the draft? Absolutely, particularly if it's not addressed in a big way in free agency.