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NFL Scouting Combine Day One: Potential Colts QBsby Chris Blystone on February 26, 2020 at 2:00 pm
The Colts have a huge offseason ahead of them, and this week marks another step in the decision-making process. While the combine is by no means an end-all be-all in the process of whittling down prospects ahead of the draft, it is certainly an important part of the path to draft day. With uncertainty at the quarterback position, that is naturally the focus for many Colts fans. Fortunately for them, with tight ends, quarterbacks, and wide receivers available to the media Tuesday, it was certainly the focus as the combine got underway. I heard from Jacob Eason, Justin Herbert, and Jordan Love Tuesday, as each attempted to manage a barrage of questions from the scrums that formed around them, and comport themselves with dignity and poise throughout a process that could see each of them potentially joining rosters in the first round of the draft. Here are my takeaways from each of them. Jacob Eason Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images If they were giving out an award for the player most prepared to bore reporters in a press conference, Jacob Eason takes the win easily among these three. That isn’t a knock on him necessarily. Players are taught coachspeak early, and most of what is said on a week-in, week-out basis in player interviews is fluff that is designed to sound like it isn’t. Jacob Eason talked for 15 minutes this morning, but didn’t say much. He was asked all the typical questions you get at an event like this, and his answers were pretty plain. He talked about loving this process and being excited for Thursday’s workouts. When asked what he needed to improve on, he said that he is always looking to improve and then listed every trait attributable to a quarterback as an area he hopes to improve. If you were looking to be wowed by Eason in this setting, you were disappointed. He and Peyton Manning could potentially have a competition for who could better utilize generic terminology to say nothing for longer. It might be the sole football activity in which he could best Manning, but probably not. He did however, say that Peyton Manning looked like his dad, which was his reason for following the legendary Colts QB as a kid. So there’s that. The point is, if you were sold on Eason because of his work on the field, this press conference didn’t really do anything to damage that assessment. If you were looking for more, it probably didn’t provide that either. Justin Herbert I’ll admit, I’m not a huge Herbert guy. I didn’t love what I saw on tape from him, but I’m willing to admit that I am not perfect in my assessment of players, so I’m not about to shut the door on a guy who has obvious potential. When Herbert stepped to the podium, therefore, I was there to hear him solely to report that information for the benefit of Colts fans. He followed Eason at the podium, and if the room was drifting after a monotonous interview, Herbert grabbed ahold of it and commanded the full attention of everyone there. From the jump, he was engaging, passionate, and focused. Naturally, there was a lot of the same kind of verbiage. Players in this setting aren’t programmed to give up a lot of information. Herbert tiptoed around questions about teams he had met with, and gave the normal obligatory, “I’d be thrilled to play anywhere that wants me,” line as well. He tackled some of his challenges this offseason head on, discussing how he’s had to work on getting time under center after operating primarily out of the shotgun, and how he has to convince teams that he can do that effectively. When asked about how he changed over his time in school, he cited his demeanor as the biggest area, specifically in terms of how outspoken and vocal his leadership style has become from where it once was. The most telling quote from Herbert, and when he really shone was this one: This answer from Herbert is the kind of team-focused attitude that will likely resonate with the #Colts pic.twitter.com/AB1FuqIcj2— Chris Blystone (@chrisblystone) February 26, 2020 The Colts have talked time and again about how important having guys who play for one another is to the organization. Here Herbert details exactly that. Putting the team first to help achieve their mutual goals. Hard not to like that from a young prospect. Jordan Love Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images I’ve liked what I saw on film from Jordan Love for awhile. Sure, there are questions, and he is likely to be a player who is a big boom or bust prospect. However, the potential for greatness is there, and the question the Colts will have to ask before pulling the trigger is if Love has the drive to reach that potential. He had a strong showing at the podium today, coming out of the gate hot by addressing his down year and the interceptions immediately before they were even brought up. When asked what he thought was the cause, Love pulled no punches. He said that much of the time he had forced plays and rather than take a checkdown, he had tried to go for the kill shot. One of the questions he was asked provided him a chance to cast some blame on his supporting cast, noting that they had a great deal of turnover in terms of offensive line, receivers, and even a new coach. Love didn’t take the bait however, still choosing to take on that blame himself. In terms of his preparedness in the offseason, he said he had stayed busy: “Since this season ended I’ve been training hard, every day with my quarterback coach out there. Just trying to become a better quarterback, you know whatever it is. Footwork, fundamentals. Being able to break down defenses on the board and stuff like that, so I’ve been doing everything I can do.” While many will question just how good Love can be, he embraces his comparisons to guys like Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, pointing to his ability to excel at off-platform throws and in situations where plays break down. He brought up time and time again how much room there is for his improvement and cited his growth under the Lions’ staff during the Senior Bowl as a major learning experience already. In total, I found Love to be engaging and appreciated his easy demeanor. His sense of humor made what could be a long morning of interviews a lot lighter, but he struck a very good blend of humility and self-awareness with confidence. There aren’t many guys who can tell you they compare to Patrick Mahomes, and also say honestly and vulnerably that they need to grow and stop making stupid mistakes that cost their team. That’s exactly what Love did today, and the Colts will almost certainly have to take a very long look at him. Coincidentally, Love did say he had met with the Colts already. Stay tuned throughout the week as we continue to get you updates from the combine!
Colts News: Chris Ballard believes Colts are ready for big name free agentby Brett Mock on February 26, 2020 at 1:04 pm
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Chris Ballard: Colts Ready For Big Name Free Agent | WFNI ESPN 107.5 / 1070 The FanChris Ballard: Colts Ready For Big Name Free Agent Is Colts GM Chris Ballard softening his stance on big-ticket free agents? – The AthleticBallard offered a widow into his assessment of his team and, just maybe, shined a light on his intentions for the coming weeks. What QB-needy teams picking in front of Colts are saying about the draftPicking at No. 13, the Colts might need some help to have a chance at drafting one of the top-tier quarterbacks in April, if they want one. Chris Ballard Combine Notebook | WFNI ESPN 107.5 / 1070 The FanChris Ballard Combine Notebook Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard talks draft prospects, the quarterback position, free agency and more at the 2020 NFL Scouting CombineIndianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard on Tuesday spoke to reporters at the the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. What were the main takeaways on the Combine and draft, free agency, the quarterback position and much more? Colts GM Chris Ballard preparing for two futures: One with Brissett, one withoutColts GM Chris Ballard has no intention of letting word slip on what his plans are for the quarterback position. Colts draft: Colts will consider all options at quarterback, what's that mean for the draft?The Colts have a long list of wants at the quarterback position, but Reich believes there are two reasons for busts: intangibles and processing. Anthony Castonzo Returning To Colts In 2020 | WFNI ESPN 107.5 / 1070 The FanAnthony Castonzo Returning To Colts In 2020 Colts say LT Anthony Castonzo will return, leaving offensive line intactColts GM Chris Ballard said left tackle Anthony Castonzo is not retiring, meaning the team's starting offensive line should return intact. Indianapolis Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo intends on returning for a 10th season with the team in 2020, general manager Chris Ballard said todayIndianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard today told reporters that veteran left tackle Anthony Castonzo, who was considering the possibility of retirement, has told him he wants to return to the Colts for a 10th season in 2020. Anthony Castonzo’s return brought ‘big ol’ smile’ to Chris Ballard’s face | Fox 59INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Sooner or later, Chris Ballard realizes he must consider life without Anthony Castonzo. It will be later. One of the most pressing potential concerns for Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts was eased within the past two weeks when Castonzo, their blue-collar left tackle the past nine seasons, informed them he would return Chris Ballard: Anthony Castonzo will play in 2020, Colts working on new contractOn Tuesday, Colts general manager Chris Ballard said left tackle Anthony Castonzo told him he intends on playing next season. Anthony Castonzo's return means Colts can win the 2020 NFL offseason.With Anthony Castonzo returning in 2020, Colts GM Chris Ballard can focus his premium assets - draft picks, cap space - elsewhere as Colts rebuild. Getting LT Anthony Castonzo back is a game-changer for Colts and Frank Reich – The AthleticCastonzo recently informed the team that he will play next season after initially considering retirement. Is Utah State QB Jordan Love too talented for the Colts to pass up? – The AthleticLove is the big-armed, big-risk quarterback from Utah State, among the most intriguing prospects in the NFL Draft. 2020 NFL Draft: Hard Work Turned CeeDee Lamb Into An Elite Receiver ProspectCeeDee Lamb is one of the top prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft this April, but there was plenty of hard work and determination pushing that talent to the next level. NFLPA reps vote to send proposed CBA to full membership for approvalRepresentatives from the NFL Players Association voted early Wednesday to send a new collective bargaining agreement already approved by the league's owners to the full union membership for a vote. COLTS MEDIA Can the #Colts locker room handle a 'big name' free agent? GM Chris Ballard thinks so. Plenty of #NFLCombine coverage coming to IndyStar. @IndyStarSports pic.twitter.com/R8RiFxGzIm— Clark Wade (@ClarkWade34) February 25, 2020 Chris Ballard with the latest on Anthony Castonzo: pic.twitter.com/mJum3GrXgG— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) February 25, 2020 One QB option for the #Colts---> Jordan Love. Here's what Jordan thinks about the team. Plenty of #NFLCombine coverage at https://t.co/33Ugb8JEvw. @IndyStarSports pic.twitter.com/Am0uh4p1on— Clark Wade (@ClarkWade34) February 25, 2020 Love talked about working with the Lions’ staff at the Senior Bowl and how that helped him get better. pic.twitter.com/vJz4e4D9fo— Chris Blystone (@chrisblystone) February 26, 2020 Jordan Love struck me today as having exactly the right blend of confidence and self awareness. Here he talks about his ability to make something happen when plays break down. #Colts pic.twitter.com/jdlcagJ5yU— Chris Blystone (@chrisblystone) February 26, 2020 I liked Love’s response to this question. He clearly wasn’t about to throw his team under the bus or place blame on a lower overall level of talent for his down 2019 season. Owned his part in it while still being honest. pic.twitter.com/YzOAVsrT6T— Chris Blystone (@chrisblystone) February 25, 2020 On his comparison to Patrick Mahomes: pic.twitter.com/SpLbsbtMde— Chris Blystone (@chrisblystone) February 25, 2020 .@ColinCowherd is all-in on Jordan Love. Believes he's a franchise-changer and predicts he will do so with the #Colts. pic.twitter.com/qjxJpd1L9W— Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) February 26, 2020 This answer from Herbert is the kind of team-focused attitude that will likely resonate with the #Colts pic.twitter.com/AB1FuqIcj2— Chris Blystone (@chrisblystone) February 26, 2020
Afternoon Pancakes Episode 34by Jared Malott on February 25, 2020 at 10:49 pm
Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images Anthony Castonzo is back! Press Conferences, Combine & Draft Chatter too! This week, Stephen @nicereedsteve and Jared @likelyalien chat about how awesome it is to know that Anthony Castonzo is back, albeit on a year-to-year basis. We also talk about Jim Irsay and Chris Ballard’s press conferences. We then talk at length about the combine and even the draft! Make sure you follow the podcast @podpancake! Go Colts!
Anthony Castonzo returning to the Colts in 2020by Greg Rader on February 25, 2020 at 5:48 pm
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images Offensive Tackle will return for at least another year Colts GM Chris Ballard announced today that Left Tackle Anthony Castonzo will be returning to the team for the 2020-2021 season. Castonzo had made news shortly after the Colts season ended by declaring that he was contemplating retirement. This news is big for the Colts, as it will keep one of the best offensive lines in the NFL intact for at least another year. Ballard explained that the team is working on a new deal for Castonzo, but he also indicated that this will be a “year-to-year thing”, so the team will likely still need to draft an eventual replacement for the long-time starter.
Zach Hicks Pre-Combine Top 100 Big Boardby Zach Hicks on February 25, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images The NFL Scouting Combine is upon us as teams and draft evaluators get another piece to their scouting puzzle. While we will know more about these prospects after the combine, I wanted to give you all a quick look where I am in regards to my overall grades this draft season. These grades are far from final as interviews, the combine, and final film grades will give a better picture of my final thoughts on these players. As of right now, here is how I would rank this 2020 NFL Draft class. One thing to note is that this big board does not include positional value. This is simply where I rank players with how confident I am in their ability to reach their potential. With that said, here is my Pre-Combine Top 100 Big Board: 1.) Chase Young, Defensive End, Ohio State 2.) Jeffrey Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State 3.) Joe Burrow, Quarterback, LSU 4.) Henry Ruggs III, Wide Receiver, Alabama Henry Ruggs only has 98 career catches.24 of those have resulted in TDs.pic.twitter.com/LDwrTS0VB5— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 22, 2020 5.) Tristan Wirfs, Offensive Tackle, Iowa 6.) Derrick Brown, Defensive Tackle, Auburn 7.) Isaiah Simmons, Linebacker, Clemson 8.) Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback, Alabama 9.) Jedrick Wills, Offensive Tackle, Alabama 10.) Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina 11.) Kristian Fulton, Cornerback, LSU 12.) CeeDee Lamb, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma 13.) K’Lavon Chaisson, Defensive End, LSU 14.) Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver, Alabama 15.) Andrew Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Georgia 16.) AJ Epenesa, Defensive End, Iowa 17.) Justin Jefferson, Wide Receiver, LSU LSU WR Justin Jefferson declared for the NFL Draft this week. His overall game is great but I especially love when he has one v one in the slot. He wins in a variety of ways from hard cuts to hesitations to dead leg/euro-step moves. More in my film review tomorrow with @Cover_1_ pic.twitter.com/zWn16GxcZl— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) January 18, 2020 18.) Mekhi Becton, Offensive Tackle, Louisville 19.) Laviska Shenault Jr, Wide Receiver, Colorado 20.) Jordan Love, Quarterback, Utah State 21.) Damon Arnette, Cornerback, Ohio State Damon Arnette is one of my favorite players in this class. A great press corner with top notch closing speed, I was impressed by his ability to make plays on the ball despite typically being in press man. There is so much to like about this corner. More tomorrow over @Cover_1_ pic.twitter.com/XiQV2ngcvX— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) February 8, 2020 22.) Jalen Reagor, Wide Receiver, TCU 23.) Patrick Queen, Linebacker, LSU 24.) Yetur Gross-Matos, Defensive End, Penn State 25.) Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon 26.) Josh Jones, Offensive Tackle, Houston 27.) Ashtyn Davis, Safety, California 28.) Cameron Dantzler, Cornerback, Mississippi State 29.) Jeff Gladney, Cornerback, TCU 30.) Lloyd Cushenberry III, Interior Offensive Lineman, LSU 31.) Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU 32.) Jonathan Taylor, Running Back, Wisconsin 33.) Cesar Ruiz, Interior Offensive Lineman, Michigan Cesar Ruiz, IOL, #Michigan: • Sandbox Bully (+)• Vice grip hands• Center/Guard versatility (++)• Excellent short pull blocker• Constantly scans for work (++)• High level anchor strength• Constant communicator upfront pic.twitter.com/6RQPb3smH7— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) February 22, 2020 34.) Lucas Niang, Offensive Tackle, TCU 35.) Neville Gallimore, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma 36.) Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Running Back, LSU 37.) Justin Madubuike, Defensive Tackle, Texas A&M 38.) Julian Okwara, Defensive End, Notre Dame 39.) Denzel Mims, Wide Receiver, Baylor 40.) Ross Blacklock, Defensive Tackle, TCU 41.) Noah Igbinoghene, Cornerback, Auburn 42.) D’Andre Swift, Running Back, Georgia 43.) Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama 44.) Kenneth Murray, Linebacker, Oklahoma 45.) K.J Hamler, Wide Receiver, Penn State 46.) Cam Akers, Running Back, Florida State 47.) Jonah Jackson, Interior Offensive Lineman, Ohio State Ohio State Guard Jonah Jackson really impressed me Senior Bowl week. I looked at his film and was even more impressed. I saw a player who is agile and strong who plays with a mean streak and finishes plays. Should be a top 50 pick come April. Article coming for @Cover_1_ tomorrow pic.twitter.com/U3tEHseHCx— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) January 28, 2020 48.) A.J Terrell, Cornerback, Clemson 49.) J.K Dobbins, Running Back, Ohio State 50.) Zack Baun, Defensive End, Wisconsin 51.) Trevon Diggs, Cornerback, Alabama 52.) Joshua Uche, Defensive End, Michigan 53.) Austin Jackson, Offensive Tackle, USC 54.) Bradlee Anae, Defensive End, Utah Senior Bowl pass rusher Bradlee Anae may be one of the most polished pass rushers in this class. His go-to move? The club on the outside. He is prolific with this move as is able to swat tackles' arms and create separation. Full article drops tomorrow @Cover_1_ pic.twitter.com/2RA1FlAzlf— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) January 1, 2020 55.) Kyle Dugger, Safety, Lenoir-Rhyne 56.) Damien Lewis, Interior Offensive Lineman, LSU 57.) Ben Bartch, Offensive Tackle, Saint Johns 58.) Netane Muti, Interior Offensive Lineman, Fresno State The recovery here by LG Netane Muti is insane. His lack of length does lead him to being tossed a bit in games but maaaan he’s so athletic, strong, and knows so many little nuances to counter that deficiency pic.twitter.com/CL80y1hGJN— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) February 21, 2020 59.) Zack Moss, Running Back, Utah 60.) Jonathan Greenard, Defensive End, Florida 61.) Akeem Davis-Gaither, Linebacker, Appalachian State 62.) Adam Trautman, Tight End, Dayton 63.) Bryce Hall, Cornerback, Virginia 64.) Jaylon Johnson, Cornerback, Utah 65.) Brandon Aiyuk, Wide Receiver, Arizona State 66.) Isaiah Wilson, Offensive Tackle, Georgia 67.) Shane Lemieux, Interior Offensive Lineman, Oregon First play watching Shane Lemieux... I dig it pic.twitter.com/ZJmbpjRxJd— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) February 1, 2020 68.) Khalid Kareem, Defensive End, Notre Dame 69.) Troy Pride Jr, Cornerback, Notre Dame 70.) C.J Henderson, Cornerback, Florida 71.) Tee Higgins, Wide Receiver, Clemson 72.) Brycen Hopkins, Tight End, Purdue 73.) Davon Hamilton, Defensive Tackle, Ohio State Ohio State DT Davon Hamilton has impressed down here in Mobile. I looked at his tape and saw similar dominance in flashes. Explosive DT with good hands and strength. Could he be another Chris Ballard Ohio State draft pick? pic.twitter.com/STHHZqSEnO— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) January 24, 2020 74.) Robert Hunt, Interior Offensive Lineman, Louisiana 75.) James Morgan, Quarterback, Florida International 76.) Marlon Davidson, Defensive Tackle, Auburn 77.) Darrell Taylor, Defensive End, Tennessee 78.) Malik Harrison, Linebacker, Ohio State 79.) Michael Ojemudia, Cornerback, Iowa 80.) Antoine Winfield Jr, Safety, Minnesota 81.) Alohi Gilman, Safety, Notre Dame 82.) Donovan Peoples-Jones, Wide Receiver, Michigan 83.) Devin Duvernay, Wide Receiver, Texas Devin Duvernay from Texas winning vertically for #myBrand pic.twitter.com/i6fo3gNZlo— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) January 22, 2020 84.) Anthony McFarland, Running Back, Maryland 85.) Curtis Weaver, Defensive End, Boise State 86.) Hunter Bryant, Tight End, Washington 87.) Tyler Biadasz, Interior Offensive Lineman, Wisconsin 88.) Prince Tega-Wanogho, Offensive Tackle, Auburn 89.) Ezra Cleveland, Offensive Tackle, Boise State 90.) Troy Dye, Linebacker, Oregon 91.) Matthew Peart, Offensive Tackle, UCONN 92.) Saahdiq Charles, Offensive Tackle, LSU 93.) Jacob Eason, Quarterback, Washington 94.) Markus Bailey, Linebacker, Purdue 95.) Kenny Willekes, Defensive End, Michigan State 96.) Alex Highsmith, Defensive End, Charlotte 97.) Raekwon Davis, Defensive Tackle, Alabama 98.) Matt Hennessy, Interior Offensive Lineman, Temple 99.) Trey Adams, Offensive Tackle, Washington OT Trey Adams was once a highly regarded NFL prospect. Now after two major injuries, he still has what it takes to be an NFL starter. His proficiency in jump sets intrigues me the most. Teams like the Titans, Colts, Raiders, and Seahawks should have interest come draft time: pic.twitter.com/4MeIxzzlnd— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) January 9, 2020 100.) Darrynton Evans, Running Back, Appalachian State