INDIANAPOLIS – Lions general manager Bob Quinn knows the importance of having veteran leadership upfront along the offensive line, especially with the two most senior members of his line – right tackle Riley Reiff and right guard Larry Warford – potentially headed to free agency.
"It's very important," Quinn told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. "You can't have all rookies and second-year players in your offensive line. I think that's something that's a philosophy of mine. You can't go too young.
"In terms of our two guys (Reiff and Warford), we've had discussions with both of them – don't have anything to announce today, but we're working towards that."
Left tackle Taylor Decker and guards Graham Glasgow and Joe Dahl are headed into their second seasons, guard Laken Tomlinson and tackle Corey Robinson are entering year three, and center Travis Swanson will play his fourth season in 2017. As a collective group, Detroit had one of the youngest offensive lines in the NFL in 2016.
Whether that veteran presence in 2017 will come from Reiff (entering year six), Warford (entering year five) or a veteran free agent is unclear, but Quinn will no-doubt have a plan in place.
"I'm excited to kind of see what the offensive line looks like next year because inevitably the team's going to be different," Quinn said. "That's the thing in the National Football League nowadays, 30 to 35 percent of your team is going to be different from year to year, so I can't tell you right now who is going to be on our team. But I know we're going to do a great job of improving the team and getting better than last year."
-* Tim Twentyman*
LOADED RB CLASS
Vikings GM Rick Spielman sees an unusually deep pool of running backs available in this year's draft, which might play into the team's ultimate decision on what to do with veteran running back Adrian Peterson.
View photos from Lions GM Bob Quinn's NFL Combine press conference in Indianapolis.
Spielman said Wednesday that he has spoken to Peterson about the team's decision not to pick up the option on his contract for 2017. That means Peterson will become a free agent on March 9, unless a new deal is worked out before that to keep him in Minnesota for his 11th season.
This is a good draft year for teams that need running backs. Leonard Fournette of LSU and Dalvin Cook of Florida State are considered the top two players at the position, but they aren't the only backs who are highly valued by Spielman.
"To be honest, I don't remember this amount of running backs coming out," Spielman said. "I don't remember a year when the draft class at this position has been so deep."
Christian McCaffrey of Stanford also has been mentioned as a potential first-round pick, with Alvin Kamara of Tennessee a long shot to crack the first round.
Deeper in the draft, a player like Kareem Hunt of Toledo could be a solid mid-round pick.
–* Mike O'Hara*
HARBAUGH ON HARBAUGH
Jim Harbaugh has been criticized for some of his tactics on the recruiting trail at Michigan, but brother John, head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, says Jim climbing trees, playing football shirtless or having a sleepover is just who he is.
"I can tell you this about Jim Harbaugh, my brother," John said. "That is who he is. He's not trying, that's not a tactic. He's not trying to be something he's not. He's not trying to prove anything. He's just being himself. He's going to have fun.
"He's going to enjoy himself. If a football gets stuck up in a tree, he'll be the first guy climbing up there to get it – whatever happened. If it's shirt and skins and he's on the skins team, the shirt is coming off, you know. Whatever. That's just is who he is."
John said his brother's personality should resonate with recruits, and they should want to play for a coach that brings that much energy to the table.
"I think he's really fun to play for," John said. "If I was a big-time recruit, I'd play for Jim Harbaugh. I know I'm going to have fun and he's going to get the best out of me. He's going to prepare me to get to this level.
"He's going to make sure I get my degree. We're going to do things the right way. But if you don't love football, if you don't want to go to practice and you don't want to go to football meetings, then you need to go play somewhere else. Because that's what he's all about."
Michigan has 14 players at this week's Combine, more than any other school.
"I think it says a lot about the program," John said. "It says a lot about Jim. I think he did a great job, and his staff, developing those players.
"I also think Brady Hoke deserves a lot of credit, and Jim would be the first to say that too. Those guys were recruited by Brady and his staff, and that's a heck of a class they put together there, a couple of classes with the seniors and the juniors there.
"Do I talk to Jim about those guys? Yeah. I have a pretty good handle on all of those guys based on what Jim thinks of those guys."
-* Tim Twentyman*
Packers GM Ted Thompson admits that he doesn't have all the answers in the league's continuing effort to deal with the issue of concussions, but he sees progress being made.
"There's a lot we just don't know," Thompson said. "I think in some respects we're catching up. We don't want to be making decisions in the dark."
-* Mike O'Hara*
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Vikings GM Rick Spielman, when the first question during his podium session Wednesday was on quarterback Sam Bradford:
"Wow, I bet a dollar there'd be an Adrian Peterson question coming right out of the gate. I did not get that. I lost."
-* Tim Twentyman*