Apology Day: Top prospects explain character issues

INDIANAPOLIS -- Call it "Apology Day" at the NFL Scouting Combine.

On Friday, a cast of prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft tried to explain away a wide array of character concerns that NFL clubs must reconcile in determining their draft grades. Some did it more successfully that others, and some had more explaining to do than others.

They all put their best foot forward, but one of them, Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche, stepped into something of a mess.

Then there was Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence, who was peppered with questions about the two failed drug tests that got him ousted from Ohio State, and the constant sring of drug tests he's since passed that gives NFL clubs some assurances about his behavior while at EKU. Baylor DE Shawn Oakman addressed his dismissal from Penn State, and Ohio State DL Adolphus Washington apologized for his arrest for soliciting prostitution and his subsequent suspension from the Fiesta Bowl. OSU DE Joey Bosa declined to discuss his suspension for the Buckeyes' 2015 season-opener in any significant detail, saying he would address it with NFL clubs "one on one."

Here are six other things we learned on Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine:

  1. In another injury update from a top-flight defender, UCLA's Myles Jack said the torn lateral meniscus he suffered last September is healing nicely and expects to be cleared to fully participate at his pro day on March 12. He went through a rigorous medical evaluation by NFL team doctors on Friday and will hang around until Saturday to take part in formal interviws.

Jack said teams have been talking to him about playing every linebacker position, as well as safety. He said he'd like to have a "Kam Chancellor-type role" in the NFL. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah has Jack ranked as the third best player in the draft, behind only OT Laremy Tunsil and DB Jalen Ramsey.

  1. The fastest running back at the combine wasn't Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry, or any other household name at the position. It was Georgia's Keith Marshall, who played a backup role at UGA, first behind Todd Gurley, then behind Nick Chubb. Marshall ran a 4.31 40-yard dash to match with his position-best 25 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. Some backup.
  1. Combine medical exams aren't exactly rubber-stamped with quick stethoscope check. They're as intensive as any, and they can turn up almost anything -- even injuries that already have healed. Memphis QB Paxton Lynch was among the prospects to get stuck at the hospital Friday.
  1. Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil, the potential No. 1 overall pick, skipped most of the drill work at the combine, ensuring lots of eyes on his pro day. He did go through position drills, however, and showed exactly why he's regarded as highly as he is.
  1. Baylor DL Andrew Billings, a weightlifting champion in high school and one of the strongest players at the combine, believes the bench-press record of 49 reps (225 pounds) is within his reach. He's pressed 230 pounds 34 times in training, but said he's been more heavily focused in training on the 40-yard dash.
  1. Alabama DL A'Shawn Robinson is an imposing-looking figure at 307 pounds. He often wears a scowl, keeps his head shaved, and with a full beard, it's hard to imagine he's only 20 years old.

"It wasn't really an intimidation thing," Robinson said. "I got into college and I was going bald. So I was like, it's time to shave it. Growing my beard ... I don't know. I don't really smile too often."

Soon enough, however, the first-round hopeful will be making an NFL club smile plenty.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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