Greetings from Lucas Oil Stadium, where the weeklong madness known as the annual NFL Combine has begun. I’ll have plenty of dispatches from the proceedings today, so be sure to check this space regularly for updates.
4:21 p.m. — Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams told me he has an interview set up with the Chiefs during the Combine. Williams is the eighth member of my All-Juice team, and a player whose skill set I can appreciate. I had the Chiefs selecting him 18th overall in my second mock draft. Others have him going in the second round and some have him going in the first but I’m bullish on his potential, and I came away impressed with him in my interview with him today. You can tell he’s passionate about football.
3:45 p.m. — Florida State right tackle Bobby Hart told me in passing that he interviewed with the Chiefs. I haven’t done much film work on him but he was a member of one of the best offensive lines in America. I also remember him struggling against Dee Ford in the Rose Bowl last season.
3:44 p.m. — Florida left tackle D.J. Humphries is a personable young man who came off well in his interview. He told me he has interviewed the Chiefs. He’s an interesting prospect; I need to do more film work on him but he has some athletic ability. The question about him will be his weight. He said he played last year at under 300 pounds, which won’t cut it in the NFL.
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3:16 p.m. — Offensive lineman Ali Marpet of Hobart said he has a formal interview set up with the Chiefs. Marpet is a strong interview; he has a definite presence. He went to a small college, but he preformed well at the Senior Bowl and more than held his own. He’s not terribly big, at 6-4, 307, so he projects as a center or guard, where his intelligence will help him. He’s an interesting mid-round prospect, in my opinion.
2:28 p.m. — South Carolina guard A.J. Cann, one of my favorite players at his position in the draft, said he has interviewed with the Chiefs. Cann is squatty, at 6 feet 2 and 313 pounds, but he possesses good power at the point of attack and is very aware in pass pro, which the Chiefs could use. I don’t think he’s great in space — he seems like a better for for a gap/man blocking scheme — but the Chiefs could incorporate more of those concepts, especially since they have another power guard in last year’s starter on the right side, Zach Fulton.
1:59 p.m. — LSU offensive lineman La’El Collins told me he has interviewed with the Chiefs during the predraft process. Collins, who is listed at 6 feet 5 and 308 pounds, is projected to be a first-round pick due to his size and reputation as a run blocker. He played tackle and guard at LSU, two positions the Chiefs could use more depth at.
12:41 p.m. — New Denver coach Gary Kubiak said star quarterback Peyton Manning has not told him whether or not he’ll be playing in 2015.
“It’s been about a process that he and John (Elway) have been working through the course of the last month,” Kubiak said. “When I came in — think it will be a month tomorrow that I’ve been in town — I knew all along they were going to take some time, that Peyton was going to take some time away. ... I’ve had the chance to visit with (Peyton) quite often here in the last couple of weeks and it’s been very good, no football. We visited about a lot of things but no football. He’s very positive in his talking to me; he was very positive with John when he came to town last week. So we continue to move forward and I’ll let he and John work that out.”
Kubiak was then asked if he believes Manning, who battled a lower body injury the second half of last season, will be his quarterback in 2015.
“No doubt I want him to be,” Kubiak said. “I think all indications are that (through) everything that he said and through his conversations with John he feels good. He’s had his self-assessment or however you want to label that, and he feels good about moving forward. So, we’ll just continue with the process.”
12:01 p.m. — Arizona State offensive lineman Jamil Douglas said he interviewed with the Chiefs on Tuesday night. Douglas played guard and tackle in college but probably projects best as a guard due to his size (6-4, 300). He was named one of college football’s freakiest athletes before last season.
11:04 a.m. — New Bears coach John Fox offered a fairly tepid response to a question about whether quarterback Jay Cutler will be the guy going forward. “I don’t think there’s any question there’s ability and talent there,” Fox said. “But there’s a lot more than goes into it and we’re in the process of doing that.”
10:46 a.m. — San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke was asked about former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh’s recent comments about his departure from the team. Harbaugh said it wasn’t his choice. “I have no response to that,” Baalke said. “Jim’s moved on, we’ve moved on ... Jim did a heck of a job, he’s a heck of a coach. He’s gone his direction, we’ve gone ours. We feel good about the direction we’re headed in and I’m sure he does as well … the important thing for us is just to move forward.”
10:40 a.m. — Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub, who was believed to be one of several candidates for the Bears’ head coaching job this offseason, still has a big fan in Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith, who was his boss for several years in Chicago. “I’m pulling for him because I think he deserves it,” Smith said. “Dave’s a good football coach. How do you move up? You do a great job at what you’re in charge of, and Dave has done that throughout his career. I know him personally, I know exactly what he brings to the table. In time, he’ll get that opportunity.”
▪ 10:20 a.m. — Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith just praised former Chiefs and Jayhawks safety Bradley McDougald, saying he made some good strides this year. McDougald signed with the Bucs in December 2013 after being waived by the Chiefs.
▪ 10:10 a.m. — Seventy-four underclassmen entered this year’s NFL draft, a drop of 24 percent from the year before. That’s the first time that number has dropped in five years, and Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert has a theory about what prompted this.
“I hope it’s the education of what happened in last year’s draft,” Colbert said. “Only 61 percent of those kids were drafted. I think a lot of kids that weren’t drafted regretted it because they ended up as free agents. They gave up a year of college.”
Colbert also said that changes to the league’s player advisory committee could also be having an effect.
“Now we only tell a player if he’s (projected to be) a first or second rounder,” Colbert said.
Prior to this year, the committee also told players if they were projected to go in the third round or fourth-through-sixth rounds.
▪ 9:48 a.m. — Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert will speak to the media at 9 a.m. central. He will be the first of several personnel men and coaches to take questions in the media workroom. There’s a good chance he will be asked about receiver Randall Cobb, a pending free agent who would be a nice fit with the Chiefs, provided he hits the market.
By the way, Chiefs coach Andy Reid will speak to the media at 2:15 p.m.