INDIANAPOLIS - The first day of the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone. The day featured press conferences from general managers and head coaches as well as offensive linemen, tight ends and specialists. Here were some of the highlights:
Wells Report backlash
The Michael Sam story may turn out to be the overwhelming story of the combine this year, but almost every head coach and general manager who spoke was asked about the situation with the Miami Dolphins. The Wells Report, released last week, detailed what exactly happened with Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin and the rest of Dolphins offensive line.
Although Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said that he was responsible for what happens with his team, he didn't take much responsibility for what transpired.
"I didn't necessarily name (Incognito) a leader. There's a leadership council we have in place," Philbin said.
Philbin, who said no decision has been made about the future of players in the Wells Report, even said some of the things that took place between his players he wasn't even aware about.
Other coaches were made plenty aware of what happened in Miami, and were asked what happens on their team so that type of incident doesn't happen again.
"I’ve been in constant communication with our team on a daily basis, our captains and so forth we address any things that come up," New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said about the Dolphins situation. "Obviously this isn’t a new story. This has been out there for quite some time along with a lot of other ones. What we feel is appropriate to talk to the team about, we’ll talk to the team about."
Other coaches weren't as forthright as Belichick, which is the first time that sentence has ever been used. San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh refused to talk about it, and only said he hasn't reached out to his former Stanford player. New Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell didn't want to "draw direct parallels" with his team.
Vikings targeting quarterbacks
It was striking how open Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was about his team drafting a quarterback this year. Spielman, who's been known to be aggressive moving around in the draft, made no qualms about possibly doing it again this year.
"We've done a lot of great things in the draft, but everybody's looking for that quarterback," Spielman said on Thursday. "That franchise guy. You have to be aggressive to go out there and find that guy and keep turning that wheel until you find the one you hit on."
Spielman indicated that the Vikings may not be picking a quarterback with the No. 8 pick in the first round, believing that there is depth at the position this year. Of course, the longer a team waits, the greater chance the quarterback they want won't be available. Spielman also wanted to get the input of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner about the quarterback they choose. Turner has often had quarterbacks who can get the ball down field, so someone like LSU's Zach Mettenberger could be a fit for the Vikings.
Taylor Lewan's puzzling comments
No player had a weirder press conference than Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan. Often smirking or even chuckling through answers, Lewan deflected questions about his off-field concerns like they were blitzing defensive ends.
Remember the play against Michigan State where Lewan tried to separate Isaiah Lewis' head from his shoulders? Lewan now says that him and Lewis are friends. Lewan denied getting into an altercation with an Ohio State fan after the two teams played last year. He also denied threatening a woman involved in a rape allegation.
There were at least some light-hearted spots with Lewan. He broke down how he blocked Jadeveon Clowney, saying he keyed on the superstar's feet to figure out where the blitz was going. He even claimed to be unbeatable in Super Smash Bros., so he probably has a pretty nice selection of trophies.
Bill Belichick meets the media, regurgitates 2009 speech
For the first time since 2009, Belichick spoke to the media at the combine. Really, he didn't say a whole lot different this time around. In both press conferences, Belichick began with a statement. That's pretty normal. It gets weird if you compare the two. His 2009 introduction:
"Well, it's kind of interesting to be here at this stadium. As the Combine has moved along, it's come a long way. I remember being at Arizona State. It was getting dark, standing out there, watching The Fridge do his vertical jump. That was quite a sight to see."
Fair enough. Watching William Perry workout in the 1980s would be quite the sight. But check out how Belichick opened his press conference this year:
"I was walking over here thinking about how far the whole combine has come. This is probably my 30th year. The first one I was at, was I think the second one at Arizona State, obviously held outdoors. One of the days ended, I would say not in total darkness, but certainly past dusk. I still have the image of Refrigerator Perry doing the vertical jump out there on the vertex in the middle of Arizona State Field in almost total darkness."
Khalil Mack hype begins
One of the players expected to steal the combine is Buffalo University outside linbacker Khalil Mack. Considering he'll likely be off the board when the Seattle Seahawks pick, general manager John Schneider was willing to perform a quick breakdown of the NCAA's all-time leader in forced fumbles and tackles for loss.
"All I'm going to say about that is he's an extremely explosive athlete, very fast, very instinctive, probably can play three or four positions for you on defense," Schneider said.
More news and notes
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said his team is up against the salary cap and wouldn't commit to using the franchise tag on defensive end Greg Hardy.
Schneider doesn't anticipate using the franchise tag on his defensive end Michael Bennett.
Belichick also thoroughly explained the role of new Patriots personnel member Michael Lombardi and how he'll function in New England's front office.
"He’s done a lot of things in his career in the NFL. I’m sure he’ll be doing many of those things for us. We’ll see how it goes."
Both general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman of the Chicago Bears said that former first-round pick Shea McClellin would get moved to linebacker. Emery also said he wants to bring back free agent defensive tackle Henry Melton.
Remember that rumor about the Arizona Cardinals considering trading Larry Fitzgerald to the Patriots? "I was trying to find someone to fire," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. "Because they never called me."
Baylor guard Cyril Richardson told the media he dropped 15 pounds since the end of the season.
Google+ Hangout Friday
Friday evening, Matthew Fairburn and I will be doing a Google+ Hangout with some people from Google Sports. If you have question, leave it in the comments and we'll try to answer it.