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Sources Tell Us: What we heard on Day 1 of scouting combine

  • By Andy Fenelon
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INDIANAPOLIS -- We listened in on what every NFL coach and general manager had to say Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, and when they weren't addressing their current team's roster, they were discussing the draft and its players. Here's some of the more interesting things we heard on Day 1, and an attempt to make sense of it all:

The scoop: "We feel like we definitely have to improve (on the offensive line). Does that make it a high priority? I don't know. We're going prepare for this draft at every position just like we do each and every year. Obviously it's a position that we feel like we need to improve upon offensively." -- Broncos coach Gary Kubiak

NFL Scouting Combine

Dates: Feb. 23-29
TV: NFL Network and NFL Combine Live

Combine coverage:


The skinny: Injuries and free agency defections could force the Broncos to go with three new offensive line starters next season and some of that help will surely come from the draft. Broncos general manager John Elway has never taken an offensive player in the first round, but that could change this year. The bigs like Laremy Tunsil and Ronnie Stanley will be long gone by the time the Broncos make their first pick (No. 31), but OL has depth this year. Denver will be spending a lot of time this week looking at linemen; it worked for them last year when they used the combine to get to know OG Max Garcia.

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The scoop: "Team speed. Explosion. I think those characteristics help. So I think it's just still getting the right kind of guys there and the right kind of guys to represent our city and our organization. But with a highlight on some athleticism and explosion, which I think will help to make plays." -- Bears coach John Fox

The skinny: The Bears improved on defense in 2015 under first-year coordinator Vic Fangio, but they lack playmakers. Considering the defenses Fox had at his two previous stops -- Carolina and Denver -- defense will be a priority this offseason in Chicago, starting in free agency, then the draft. Last year, the Bears used the No. 7 overall pick on WR Kevin White. With the 11th pick this year, you can bet it will be spent on the other side of the ball. There's more depth at defensive tackle than any other position in this draft, and it's not even close. The Bears have a need there.

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The scoop: "There is no secret, we're always trying to look for the next guy. To be in a situation like Green Bay years ago when they took Aaron (Rodgers) when Brett Favre was their starter, that's obviously the ideal situation, but how many times are you sitting in the 20s where you can take a guy that you see as the future." -- Cardinals GM Steve Keim

The skinny: Keim and coach Bruce Arians talked at length on Wednesday about finding an eventual replacement for Carson Palmer. "We've talked about it a bunch," Arians said. "Whether or not we act on it, we'll see." Arians doesn't sound ready to draft Palmer's replacement just yet. "The only way to learn is to play," he said. "I say that, we might draft one, and he's going to hold a clipboard for a year. But I don't believe in holding clipboards." And the Cardinals aren't in re-building mode yet. They feel they have at least a two-year window with their 36-year-old QB, and remain confident he will bounce back from a disastrous postseason.

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The scoop: "They've put out a lot of good football players for a small, lower-level play; that conference has. Certainly there's a learning curve they all go through, but I don't think it's as drastic as some may (think). They play at a high level. They won five national championships in a row, and Carson was a part of four of those. He's a good football player. He's got the stature you're looking for. He's got the intelligence you're looking for. There are so many positives to draw from. Now, how ready is he going to be when he gets to the league? I think there will be a learning curve, but there is for everybody at that position." -- 49ers GM Trent Baalke on North Dakota State's Carson Wentz going from the FBS to the NFL.

The skinny: The 49ers have the No. 7 pick in the draft but appear committed to bringing back Colin Kaepernick for at least another year and seeing if Chip Kelly can resurrect the QB's career. Interestingly, Baalke was a graduate assistant and defensive line coach at NDSU in 1989. If Wentz were to somehow fall to the 49ers, it would be an interesting call for Baalke, whose team has needs everywhere.

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The scoop: "I've watched a lot of college tape leading up to this and boy, three teams that jumped out were Ohio State, Clemson and Alabama. Huge, huge, talent on those football teams. I mean really, really, impressive. There are a lot of guys on that Ohio State team that are definitely going to have long careers in the NFL." -- Bucs coach Dirk Koetter

The skinny: Ohio State has a record 14 players at the combine, and as many as six or seven have a chance to be first-round picks. What's amazing is the Buckeyes didn't even get into the championship game last season. The three schools mentioned by Koetter have a combined 31 participants this week in Indy, or approximately 10 percent of the entire combine field.

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The scoop: "We're here and sometimes a lot gets put into height, weight, speed, 40, and a lot of times it's hard to measure what's behind that left nipple and between your ears." -- John Fox

The skinny: Fox was talking about the heart and brains. We think.



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