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5 Things We Learned at the Combine (2/26)

Posted Feb 26, 2016

Giants.com's Dan Salomone highlights five takeaways from Friday at the Combine

After head coaches and general managers gave their state of the team addresses over the first two days in Indianapolis, it was time to get down to business on Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

That’s when the bulk of on-field workouts began and the top brass from all 32 clubs moved from the podiums to their seats in Lucas Oil Stadium. Running backs and offensive linemen kicked off the drills while defensive linemen and linebackers met with the media.

Here are five things we learned from Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine:

1. GEORGIA’S MARSHALL FLIRTED WITH 40-YARD DASH RECORD

Everyone knows the marquee event at the combine is the 40-yard dash, and former East Carolina running back Chris Johnson has held bragging rights since 2008 when he posted a time of 4.24 seconds. He’ll own it for at least one more day. While we wait for other speed positions like wide receivers and defensive backs to work out on Saturday and Monday, respectively, Georgia running back Keith Marshall flirted with the record by posting a 4.31 on his first attempt. San Jose State’s Tyler Ervin (4.41) finished second among running backs while Alabama’s Kenyan Drake (4.45) took home the bronze. Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, the No. 1 running back according to NFL Media’s Mike Mayock, ran a 4.47 while Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry of Alabama posted a 4.54.


2. BOSA BELIEVES HE’S THE BEST PLAYER IN THE DRAFT

Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa held court with the media today before his position group hits the field for workouts on Sunday. The No. 1 prospect on many draft experts’ big boards, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., spoke about everything from breeding football players to whether or not he will be known as “Joe” or “Joey” at the next level. In between, he was asked directly if he thinks he’s the best player in this year’s draft class as Tennessee holds the first overall pick.

“I do believe I’m the best player in the draft,” said Bosa, a two-time consensus All-American and former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. “There’s, of course, a lot of amazing players in the draft and it’s going to be up to Tennessee to make that decision. But I think as a player if you don’t believe that then there’s kind of something wrong.”


3. JACK EXPECTS TO BE CLEARED BEFORE UCLA PRO DAY

Beginning with his Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards in 2013, UCLA’s Myles Jack earned a reputation as one of the most dynamic players in college football throughout his career. However, a knee injury three games into last season cut his junior campaign short, and the Washington native declared early for the 2016 NFL Draft.

Jack, whom Kiper projected to go to the Giants at No. 10 in his first mock draft, took the podium on Friday after lengthy medical examinations with NFL teams.

“I feel like I’m 100 percent,” Jack said. “I’m actually just waiting on the doctor’s clearance. So I should be cleared on March 11, and then my Pro Day is on the 15th and I’ll be good to go.”

Meanwhile, the 6-foot-1, 245-pounder who was a part-time running back for the Bruins is being evaluated to play anywhere -- and everywhere -- on the field.

“I’ve heard safety, Mike, Sam, Will, inside backer -- some teams joked at running back,” Jack said. “I don’t think they were serious about that, though, but I’ve heard it all pretty much in the back seven.”

Added Jack: “I see myself as a football player. I kind of want teams to decide for themselves. I feel like I could play any position. Me personally, I like being off the ball as a Mike, Will, Sam, even I’ve heard some at strong safety -- I feel like I could do that role as a Kam Chancellor [of the Seattle Seahawks] type of role.”


4. NOTRE DAME’S SMITH STILL EXPECTS TO BE IN TOP 10


Like Jack, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith injured his knee in the final game of his college career. The All-American is nearly two months removed from tearing his ACL in the Fiesta Bowl and said Friday that his goal is to play this upcoming NFL season. He also vowed to be back to 100 percent and still expects to be a top-10 pick. Mayock agrees after saying Smith could have been the No. 1 overall pick if not for the injury.

“I've had this conversation with some general managers and coaches just this past week,” Mayock said. “First and foremost, I feel horribly for the kid, injuring the knee, especially when he injured it in the bowl game. Secondly, if he did not get hurt, he'd be in the conversation for the first pick in the draft. That's how good his junior season was.”


5. TOP PERFORMERS


While Marshall currently holds the fastest 40-yard dash time, Nebraska’s Andy Janovich and Northwestern’s Dan Vitale led all running backs/fullbacks in the bench press with 30 reps apiece. California’s Daniel Lasco led the group in vertical jump (41.5 inches) and broad jump (11 feet, 3 inches) while West Virginia Wendell Smallwood had the best three-cone drill time at 6.83 seconds.

Among the offensive linemen, Arizona State guard Christian Westerman is currently the strongest man at the combine with 34 reps in the bench press. Missouri guard Connor McGovern finished second (33) while Colorado’s Stephane Nembot (32) took the bronze.

Up next: Media interviews for defensive backs on Saturday with on-field workouts for quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends.