INDIANAPOLIS – Breathe deep, draftniks:
We're just a day away.
The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, the NFL's six-day, all-draft, all-the-time scouting extravaganza, is scheduled to begin Wednesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Beginning Wednesday, 32 NFL teams will conduct private interviews, on-field workouts, medical examinations and psychological testing on more than 335 draft-eligible players – all with the idea of continuing to sort out information in preparation for the May 8-10 2014 NFL Draft.
Actually, to say the combine begins Wednesday is only half-accurate. Yes, the entire NFL is in town, and so are a bunch of players, but the on-field stuff, the stuff you'll see on NFL Network? That doesn't begin until Saturday.
But the combine indeed officially begins Wednesday. That's when kickers, offensive linemen and tight ends arrive and begin orientation and interviews. That group undergoes medical examinations and interviews, as well as meetings with the media, on Thursday before undergoing psychological testing and more interviews Friday.
That group will actually get on the field for workouts on Saturday, the first day of televised workouts on the NFL Network.
The process continues throughout the week with the schedule generally as follows:
*Special teams, offensive line, tight end: Orientation (Wednesday), Media access (Thursday), psychological testing (Friday), on-field workouts (Friday/Saturday).
*Quarterback, wide receivers, running backs: Orientation (Thursday), Media access (Friday), psychological testing (Saturday), on-field workouts (Sunday).
*Defensive line, linebackers: Orientation (Friday), Media access (Saturday), psychological testing (Sunday), on-field workouts (Monday).
*Defensive backs: Orientation (Saturday), Media access (Sunday), psychological testing (Monday), on-field workouts (Tuesday).
Confused? Think of how the prospect feels, and indeed most prospects and players who have been through the process describe a time of high-stress and pressure – which is, of course, just what many coaches and general managers like about the event.
It's a chance to see players compete, and how players handle stressful situations.
It's all part of the pre-draft process, and for special teams guys, offensive lineman and tight ends, the very beginning of the fun starts Wednesday.
Here's part two of the jaguars.com 2014 NFL Scouting Combine primer:
ENOUGH TEASING … WHO ARE THE JAGUARS TAKING?
Well, that we won't know until May 8, of course – and while General Manager David Caldwell may well offer hints at some point between now and then he hasn't done so yet.
Caldwell did say recently he had a pretty good idea who he had targeted as the Top 5 players, but he declined to offer insight about the identity of the five.
What we do know is pretty much every draftnik is projecting the Jaguars to take either pass rusher or quarterback at No. 3 overall. Then again, this time last year a lot of those same draftniks were projecting the Jaguars to take Barkevious Mingo or Geno Smith.
The draftniks seem to be favoring Johnny Manziel to the Jaguars lately, with Josh Norris of Rotoworld, Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com and Daniel Jeremiah all mocking Manziel to the Jaguars at No. 3 in their latest mock. Rob Rang of CBSSports.com and NFLDraftScout.com and Charles Davis of NFL Media mocked Manziel there.
Here's the thing about mocks, though. They don't mean all that much in April or May, and mean a whole lot less before the combine.
WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE DRAFT CLASS?
We covered defensive end, linebacker, quarterback and wide receiver Tuesday, so with no more delay, here's a look at how Rob Rang of CBSSports.com and NFL DraftScout.com, Charles Davis and Mike Mayock of NFL Media and Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting see the other positions in the 2014 draft class:
1) Running back
*Rob Rang, CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com – Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona; Tre Mason, Auburn; Carlos Hyde, Ohio State; Bishop Sankey, Washington; Jeremy Hill, Louisiana State.
*Bucky Brooks, NFL Media – Carey; Hill; Hyde; Mason; Charles Sims, West Virginia.
*Eric Galko, Optimum Scouting – Sims; Mason; Hyde; Carey; Sankey.
*Mike Mayock, NFL Media – Hyde; Hill; Sankey; Andre Williams, Boston College; Mason.
Analysis: Fewer running backs have been taken in the first round in recent years, and that trend appears likely to continue this season with none of the above-mentioned players generally projected as Top 30 selections. If the Jaguars go this route in the draft – and they likely will – it could be in Round 3 or later.
2) Tight end
*Rang, CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com – Eric Ebron, North Carolina; Jace Amaro, Texas Tech; Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington; Troy Niklas, Notre Dame; C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa.
*Brooks, NFL Media – Ebron; Seferian-Jenkins; Amaro; Fiedorowicz; Niklas.
*Galko, Optimum Scouting – Ebron; Amaro; Niklas; Seferian-Jenkins; Fiedorowicz.
*Mayock, NFL Media – Ebron; Seferian-Jenkins; Amaro; Niklas; Fiedorowicz.
Analysis: Ebron is generally projected as a first-rounder, and many project Amaro to be a late first-round selection. That would mean two tight ends in the first round, which is about the norm. The Jaguars believe veteran Marcedes Lewis can be a major factor in the offense next season, and they like the athleticism of Clay Harbor, but with 10 selections tight end could be addressed later on Day 3.
3) Offensive tackle
*Rang, CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com – Jake Matthews, Texas A&M; Greg Robinson, Auburn; Taylor Lewan, Michigan; Zack Martin, Notre Dame; Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama.
*Brooks, NFL Media – Robinson; Matthews; Lewan; Martin; Kouandjio.
*Galko, Optimum Scouting – Robinson; Matthews; Lewan; Martin; Cameron Fleming, Stanford.
*Mayock, NFL Media – Matthews; Robinson; Lewan; Martin; Kouandjio.
Analysis: Offensive tackle is a premium position that usually produces a slew of first-rounders and this year is no different. Matthews and Robinson have been projected as potentially being selected No. 2 overall, with Lewan being generally slotted in the top half of the first round. If the draft breaks right, six or seven players at this spot could go in the first round. With the Jaguars having selected Luke Joeckel No. 2 overall last April, the Jaguars won't likely lean this way.
4) Offensive guard
*Rang, CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com – David Yankey, Stanford; Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA; Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State; Cyril Richardson, Baylor; Dakota Dozier, Furman.
*Brooks, NFL Media (three) – Su'a-Filo; Yankey; Richardson.
*Galko, Optimum Scouting – Su'a-Filo; Yankey; Jackson; Jon Halapio, Florida; Richardson.
*Mayock, NFL Media – Yankey; Su'a-Filo; Jackson; Chris Watt, Notre Dame; Richardson.
Analysis: This is a back-to-normal year for offensive guard; after two players at the position – Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack – went in the Top 10 last year, no guard is projected nearly that early this season. Yankey is projected by some as a late first-rounder, and the same is true of Su-a-Filo. The Jaguars could address this position; how early remains to be seen and could depend on free agency.
*Rang, CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com – Travis Swanson, Arkansas; Weston Richburg, Colorado State; Marcus Martin, Southern California; Bryan Stork, Florida State; Tyler Larsen, Utah State.
*Brooks, NFL Media (two) – Swanson; Richburg.
*Galko, Optimum Scouting – Swanson; Richburg; Larsen; Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma; Stork.
*Mayock, NFL Media – Martin; Richburg; Swanson; Stork; Ikard.
Analysis: This is a fairly normal year for centers, with no player standing out as a first-round selection and a lot of players projected in Rounds 3-5. As is the case with offensive guard, the Jaguars could address center in the draft but they likely will focus on the area in free agency first.
6) Defensive tackle
*Rang, CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com – Louis Nix III, Notre Dame; Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh; Timmy Jernigan, Florida State; RaShede Hageman, Minnesota; Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame.
*Brooks, NFL Media – Nix; Jernigan; Hageman; Donald; Will Sutton, Arizona State.
*Galko, Optimum Scouting – Donald; Nix; Hageman; Sutton; Dominique Easley, Florida.
*Mayock, NFL Media – Nix; Jernigan; Donald; Hageman; Easley.
Analysis: This is another high-profile position league-wide, but while the Jaguars could address the position in the draft it appears unlikely they would use the No. 3 overall selection here. Nix, who played locally at Raines High School in Jacksonville, is widely considered the top tackle available, but there's a lot of value in the first round at the position. If the Jaguars are active here, it may not be until Day 3.
7) Inside Linebacker
*Rang, CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com – C.J. Mosley, Alabama; Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut; Chris Borland, Wisconsin; Shayne Scov, Stanford; Christian Jones, Florida State.
*Brooks, NFL Media – Mosley; Borland; Smallwood; Jones; Scov.
*Galko, Optimum Scouting – Mosley; Scov; Smallwood; Borland; Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA.
*Mayock, NFL Media (two) – Mosley; Borland.
Analysis: The first round is typically light on inside backers, and this year is no different, though Mosley is generally considered likely to go in the top half of the first round. With middle linebacker Paul Poslusnzy returning, the Jaguars aren't facing a major need here, though it wouldn't be a shock to see an inside linebacker somewhere on Day 3.
*Rang, CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com – Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State; Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State; Jason Verrett, Texas Christian; Marcus Roberson, Florida State; Bradley Roby, Ohio State.
*Brooks, NFL Media – Gilbert; Dennard; Verrett; Roby; Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State.
*Galko, Optimum Scouting – Dennard; Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech; Gilbert; Pierre Desir, Lindenwood; Roby.
*Mayock, NFL Media – Dennard; Gilbert; Fuller; Verrett; Roby.
Analysis: This area is perhaps not quite as strong at the top as in recent years, with no corner generally expected to be selected in the Top 10. Dennard and Gilbert are generally regarded as the best two available this season, with each projected in the Top 20. Don't look for the Jaguars to address this area early; they like Dwayne Gratz and Alan Ball, and feel very good about the potential development of Demetrius McCray.
*Rang, CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama; Calvin Pryor, Louisville; Ed Reynolds, Stanford; Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois; Deone Bucannon, Washington State.
*Brooks, NFL Media – Clinton-Dix; Pryor; Dion Bailey, Southern California; Bucannon; Ward.
*Galko, Optimum Scouting – Clinton-Dix; Ward; Pryor; Bailey Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State.
*Mayock, NFL Media – Pryor; Clinton-Dix; Joyner; Ward; Bucannon.
Analysis: This is considered a solid safety class, though not extraordinary in terms of numbers of players expected to be taken in the first round. Clinton-Dix long has been considered the top available player in the class, though Pryor's profile has risen in recent weeks. Each player is expected to be selected somewhere in the Top 20. The Jaguars likely will address the defensive backfield in most drafts – the position is a premium under Gus Bradley and also is a fertile area for special teams – but it likely won't be in the first three rounds.
The NFL Scouting Combine runs through Tuesday, but that's not the end of the pre-draft process. Far from it. When the combine ends, the Pro Day season begins, with on-campus workouts for just about all draftable prospects.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is expected to have his own Pro Day – on March 27 – but for now, he's the only prospect to reschedule a Pro Day separate from the Pro Day for the other top prospects at his school. Other high-profile Pro Days include South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (April 2), Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (March 17), UCF quarterback Blake Bortles (March 19) and Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins (March 6).
Dreamt about the combine since I was a kid! Fired up to compete in all aspects of it, especially throwing! — Blake Bortles (@BBortles5) February 18, 2014
Here's a look at the jaguars.com 2014 mock draft/pro day tracker.
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