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2017 Combine: Mentoring the rookies


INDIANAPOLIS – Mark Brunell can't control how the message is received.

But the former Jaguars quarterback can control the message, and he's enjoying delivering it to young quarterbacks this week at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.

Brunell, a member of the Pride of the Jaguars and the Jaguars' quarterback from 1995-2002, is attending the combine as one of 13 "NFL Legends" serving as mentors to college players entering the NFL.

"I like it," Brunell said. "It's fun. I tell these guys, 'If you want my number, I'll give you my number. If you want to continue this relationship, you're free to call anytime.'

"It's very rewarding to get to know these guys. One of these guys can be the next Tom Brady. It happens. So, it's cool to be at this part of their journey, the beginning. They all have a story and it will be interesting to follow them to see how it unfolds."

Brunell is working with quarterbacks while former Jaguars safety Donovin Darius is working in a similar capacity with defensive backs. Brunell is working with the quarterbacks along with former New York Jets and Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington.

"I'm here more to answer questions," Brunell said. "I'm not here to coach them. I told them on the first night a couple of nights ago: 'I'm here for anyone. If you want to get together … if you have any questions about the interview process, what to expect … I'm here.'

"Each kid is different. Some kids are engaging and ask a lot of questions. Some kids think they have all the answers or it's so big and they're so overwhelmed that they don't know what to ask."

Brunell is in his second season mentoring incoming rookies. He said one quarterback stood out at last year's combine in terms of approach, focus, questions, attention to detail, etc.

"This kid was very engaging, very polite, asked a bunch of questions … yes sir, no sir," Brunell said. "I was impressed, out of all the guys."

That quarterback was Dak Prescott, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by Dallas before quarterbacking the Cowboys to the NFC's best record as a rookie.

"He stood out, and when he went and had the year he had, it didn't surprise me at all," Brunell said. "He came to the combine with a purpose. He was going to gather as much information in a four-day period as he possibly could. He took advantage of it."

Brunell was asked if this sort of program would have benefitted him when he was a rookie in 1993.

"No doubt about it," Brunell said. "I would have loved to have had a Chad Pennington. I remember I was nervous. I was overwhelmed. I didn't know what was going on."

Brunell, who said he is anxious for the quarterback's on-field drills Saturday – "tomorrow's the big day," he said Friday – said a couple of quarterbacks stand out in this year's class. He likes Josh Dobbs of Tennessee and DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame, and said Kizer in particular stood out.

"He's positive," Brunell said. "He's an encouraging guy. He's enthusiastic. The Dobbs kid, I'm impressed. They just seem to be good kids."

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