Miami Dolphins. Notes From the Combine in Indianapolis
Although they are not in the market for a quarterback, the Miami Dolphins, like the other 31 NFL teams, watched in awe of the ability of Jameis Winston, who may have secured his name as the top pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Despite a 4.99 40-yard dash, there were few things the FSU standout and former Heisman Trophy winner did wrong on Saturday in front of team scouts and general managers, not to mention the media, who were waiting to see if the gap between he and Marcus Mariota would close a bit.
Let’s just say both were impressive with Winston getting the edge, despite a poor sprint time.
Miamdolphins.com’s Alain Poupart was there to see the quarterbacks and wide receivers go through drills and smile for the cameras as they met with the media. Here are his notes on the Combine from Saturday.
THE WINSTON EXPERIENCE
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston emphasized a few points when he addressed the media at the scouting combine, including his desire to be the face of a franchise and denying there was any problem with his right shoulder.
As much as anything, though, Winston emphasized that this will be his first offseason without baseball and devoted solely to football.
His enthusiasm about that prospect was palpable.
“Right now I’m just focusing on football; I’m a quarterback,” Winston said before a large media assembly. “And this is actually the first time I’ve ever had an offseason to just work on being a quarterback. I’ve been playing baseball. I was a pitcher. That may be why the shoulder thing (came up). But, I mean, this is the first time I’ve had an offseason and I love it.”
Winston, who declared for the draft as a redshirt sophomore, was an outfielder and pitcher at Florida State in 2013 before being used almost exclusively as a closer last spring.
The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner is doing all he can to get ready for the NFL, and that includes working with quarterback coach George Whitfield and spending a few days before the combine with former NFL quarterback and current University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
“As a quarterback, you’ve got to get better and better every single day,” Winston said. “So my main goal next year will be the turnover ratio so next year I won’t turn the ball over as much. I’m going to have a tremendous offseason. This is my first year being a quarterback year-round and I look forward to that challenge and I look forward to being better.”
While Winston had his share of off-the-field issues at Florida State, there is no denying his ability. And who knows how much better he can become now that he’s devoting himself solely to football.
“The thing is, I don’t really know how good I am yet because this is the first offseason that I’ve had since I was 4 years old,” Winston said. “I’ve never ever been into February, talking to media especially, and playing quarterback. This is the first time I’ve ever played quarterback year-round and I’m happy to just be a quarterback right now.”
Two years after his sibling was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles, UCLA inside linebacker Eric Kendricks isn’t shy about saying he would love to join him in the City of Brotherly Love.
Mychal Kendricks was a second-round pick of the Eagles in 2012 and has started 40 games in his three seasons in Philadelphia.
“Man, that’d be crazy,” Eric Kendricks said. “I played with him in high school and I think I took it for granted at the time, as far as how cool it was. But that would be unreal, to say the least.”
Eric is considered one of the top inside linebackers in the 2015 draft, along with Denzel Perryman from the University of Miami.
Eric got some help from Mychal in preparing for the combine and said there’s always been an intense sibling rivalry. That doesn’t necessarily extend, however, to the football field.
“We were 17 months apart, so we fought all the time,” said Eric, who has a scar on his left cheek, which he indicated was the result of something Mychal once threw at him. “We competed in everything, including getting to the remote for the television. I was born in that environment and I still to this day crave it. I crave competition and I find it in every aspect of life. Competition is in my blood.
“I want to see my brother be as successful as possible. I have my own goals and aspirations. What I want to achieve is maybe different from what he wants to achieve. I have my own goals that I covet and I won’t stop until I achieve them.
“I’ve already created my own legacy. I’m Eric Kendricks. But at the end of the day, I’ll always be my brother’s little brother. I’m going to keep getting questions (about Mychal) and I don’t mind them at all. I think he’s a great football player. I love to talk about him.”
Michigan prospect Devin Funchess on whether he considers himself a tight end or a wide receiver: “I consider myself a ballplayer.”
Preparing for the draft can be a stressful time for NFL prospects, but for Harvard defensive end Zach Hodges it actually might be simple compared to the academic rigors of the last four years.
“Right now, it’s pretty simple, pretty easy,” Hodges said. “Honestly, this is kind of the least stressful my life has been the past four years. I’ve decided to take this semester off from school, so I’m not writing papers until 3 in the morning. I finished training, working out, and I’m kind of just relaxing.”
Hodges is close to obtaining his degree in government and philosophy, but he says that’s going to have to wait for a little while.
“I’ll come back in the offseason, next spring,” said Hodges, who is projected as a mid-round pick. “I saw a friend, (Ravens fullback) Kyle Juszczyk, do it. I had a class with him last year, my junior year, in the spring. I saw him do it. It kind of gave me the confidence that I could do it. Actually, after the combine, I’ll be moving back to Boston so that I can be close to my thesis advisor and work on my thesis a bit in my free time.”
THE CLAY WAY
One of the small-school prospects who opened eyes at the combine was Southern Illinois tight end MyCole Pruitt.
Pruitt had easily the fastest 40-yard dash time among tight end prospects with a 4.58.
He came to the combine after being named the best tight end in Missouri Valley Conference history as part of the league’s 30-year anniversary celebration.
When he asked what NFL player he models himself after or admires, Pruitt came with a Dolphins name.
“Probably a guy like Charles Clay,” Pruitt said. “He's one of the guys that moves around a lot and can do it all it seems like.”
Pruitt was measured at the combine at 6-2, 251 pounds; Clay is listed on the Dolphins roster at 6-3, 255.
South Alabama QB Brandon Bridge on how he got his nickname “Air Canada”: “The way I got that nickname is that the fans at Alcorn State compared me to Steve ‘Air’ McNair, and because I was from Canada. When people didn’t know my name they just called me ‘Canada,’ and so people just made it ‘Air Canada.’ So I kind of just stuck with it. Little did they know that (that’s the name of) a Canadian airline.”