It’s Combine week in the NFL, beginning Thursday in Indianapolis. What should fans look for?
Mike: In a word, everything. For an event that doesn’t mean anything in terms of a final outcome – there are no scores, winners, losers, great plays, misplays, controversies or penalty flags – all of it grabs your attention because it leads up to the draft at the end of April.
Players get to display their personalities, the way Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins did last year in their interviews with the media. And they also get so show off their skills – and Luck and Griffin did that last year with eye-popping workouts.
For Lions fans in particular, having the fifth pick overall adds to the excitement and intrigue of trying to line up the top prospects and discuss who best fits their needs.
Is there anything you’re particularly interested in seeing?
Tim: The great thing about the combine this year, if you’re a Lions fan, is that nearly everyone is in play. It's not like last year when you could count out a whole group of players with the No. 23 pick.
When you’re drafting in the top 5, there’s a lot you have to keep an eye out for those four days that I like to call "controlled chaos."
But, particularly, I want to see which of the pass rushers separates himself from the bunch. There are a lot of real athletic pass rushers this year that will probably fit into the “workout warrior” class. Who stands out?
I also want to see how the cornerbacks and safeties run. Lions are looking to upgrade the secondary and there are a lot of question marks as it relates to some of these players’ top-end speed.
What about you?
Mike: I’ll go back to “everything.” I want to see it all.
But if I were to focus on one guy, it would be Barrett Jones, the center from Alabama. He’s smart, and he had experience playing tackle, guard and center on three different national championship teams. I don’t know if that means he’s so good he can play all three spots, or if he got moved out of tackle and guard by better players and landed at center.
For whatever reason, at some level a center fits what the Lions are looking for in the future. Jones has a good story to tell, and he might be the one who fits what the Lions need. Anyway, I've got dibs on Barrett Jones. If you go near him I'll sabotage your hard drive.
And then there’s Manti Te’o. His media session will seem like a State of the Union speech.
Will you get caught up in that?
Tim: That sounds like a good notebook lede to me. Not much more than that.
If the Lions needed a middle linebacker, I might be more interested. The fact that
Other than that, I don’t want any part of that circus. I’ll be a spectator on that one.
Anyone else with a little controversy surrounding them that you’ll want to tune into to? Maybe someone who fits the Lions’ needs a little more.
Mike: I can see you’re not caught up in the Manti Te’o “You and the Restless” daytime drama, and neither am I. I’m sure he’ll be at one of the big podiums, and the only question I’d like to ask is, “Who’s the girl with you? Oh, you mean there isn’t one?”
But I digress.
It doesn’t really qualify as controversy, but I want to see how Ziggy Ansah handles being the hottest new thing.
Does Dee Milliner of Alabama think he’s an elite cornerback when most experts rate him below that level?
I want to hear Rams head coach Jeff Fisher explain why he cut Titus Young only 10 days after claiming him off waivers from the Lions – and also why he hired Tim Walton as defensive coordinator. Walton had coached the Lions’ secondary for four years.
There’s other business, too. Somebody from the Competition Committee might explain if the NFL is going to change the rule about throwing the challenge flag that cost the Lions a crucial TD in an even more crucial loss to the Texans on Thanksgiving Day.
Oh, and did I mention Manti Te’o?
Tim: Te'o will be the most interesting combine media session since Janoris Jenkins held court last year and was asked if he could name all of his kids on the spot.
F.Y.I, Jenkins nailed it.
“Janoris Jenkins Jr., Legend, Janorion and Paris," he said with no hesitation.
Jenkins’ session was very honest and open and he made a lot of people in the media feel better about him. The teams still had plenty of questions, which is why he wasn't drafted until Day 2, but Te’o will be best served if he takes a lesson from Jenkins' combine presser.
Now I digress.
I have to admit I’ll be interested in what Jim Harbaugh has to say. Jimbo lost the Super Bowl and wasn’t too happy about it. Has he moved on yet?
Last one, name one local prospect you’ll want to talk to. Is there a Wayne State kid at the combine, Mike?
Mike: What do you mean, is there a Wayne State kid at the Combine? Who do you think you’re asking about Wayne State kids? George Burns? Methuselah?
When you get an education in the real world, you’re forever young – and restless.
Tim: That seemed to touch a nerve with Mike and his beloved alma mater.
The restless part, I agree with. The forever young aspect, come on Mike, who you kidding.
There are no Western Michigan University kids at the combine (my alma mater) either, so we’re both out of luck, I guess.
Eric Fisher, Denard Robinson and the rest will have to do.