North Alabama CB Jenkins shoots straight on troubled past

INDIANAPOLIS — Janoris Jenkins knows he can’t run from his past, especially here at the NFL Scouting Combine, where scouts and coaches rattle every skeleton in the closet to avoid taking a risk on a prospect.

Janoris Jenkins went to North Alabama after running into some trouble at Florida. (Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

Jenkins was a star at Florida, but he finished his college career at North Alabama after a spree of off-the-field issues led to the cornerback’s dismissal from the Gators after the 2010 season. The 22-year-old was arrested twice in the span of four months in 2011 for marijuana possession. In 2009, Jenkins was arrested for a scuffle in Gainesville.

All sorts of drama, but Jenkins claims he’s undergone a transformation. He told reporters Sunday that he’s been “straightforward” in interviews this week, taking full responsibility for his fall from grace.

“I mean, it made me a strong person,” Jenkins said. “Taught me how to fight through reality, you know, that I got to separate from certain guys, certain people. In order to be successful at the next level, I can’t do the things I used to do.”

Red flags aside, teams will come calling. Why? Because in 2010, Jenkins held South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery, Georgia’s A.J. Green and Alabama’s Julio Jones to an average of 4.7 receptions for 38 yards per game, allowing only one touchdown between the three.

Jenkins is widely projected to go anywhere from the late first round to early second in April’s draft, but he knows his soiled past has damaged his potential.

“I’m pretty sure it will hurt me,” Jenkins said, “but I’m looking past that, looking forward to moving on and just being successful from here on out.”

– Marc Sessler

Official vertical jump, broad jump results: Wide receivers

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are the leading vertical jump and broad jump results for wide receivers who worked out Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine:

Top 10 in vertical jump
Kashif Moore, Connecticut: 43.5 inches
Jerrell Jackson, Missouri: 41
Chris Owusu, Stanford: 40.5
Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech: 39.5
Keshawn Martin, Michigan State: 39.5
Devon Wylie, Fresno State: 39
A.J. Jenkins, Illinois: 38.5
Kendall Wright, Baylor: 38.5
Travis Benjamin, Miami: 38
Juron Criner, Arizona: 38
Jarius Wright, Arkansas: 38

Top 10 in broad jump
Hill: 11 feet, 1 inch
Owusu: 10-9
Jackson: 10-7
Moore: 10-6
Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers, 10-6
Greg Childs, Arkansas: 10-5
Tommy Streeter, Miami; 10-5
Junior Hemingway, Michigan: 10-4
Jenkins: 10-4
Joe Adams, Arkansas: 10-3
Jarrett Boykin, Virginia Tech: 10-3
Devier Posey, Ohio State: 10-3
Wylie: 10-3

Stay on top of all the results with NFL.com’s combine tracker.

Official vertical jump, broad jump results: QBs

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are the leading vertical jump and broad jump results for quarterbacks who worked out Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine:

Top 5 in vertical jump
Robert Griffin III, Baylor: 39 inches
Jacory Harris, Miami: 37
Jordan Jefferson, LSU: 36.5
Andrew Luck, Stanford: 36
Darron Thomas, Oregon: 36

Top 5 in broad jump
Luck: 10 feet, 4 inches
Thomas: 10-1
Griffin: 10 feet
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: 9-10
Jefferson: 9-8

Stay on top of all the results with NFL.com’s combine tracker.

Luck displays rare athleticism in 40-yard dash, jumps

INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck elected not to throw for scouts at this week’s NFL Scouting Combine, but the numbers he’s posting in other drills certainly are worth noting.

The Stanford QB unofficially ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash Sunday morning, proving the Colts likely will land more than just a traditional pocket passer if they take him No. 1, as expected, in April’s draft. Luck isn’t Peyton Manning. He’s potentially somewhere between that and Cam Newton, whose measurables last year put Luck’s into proper perspective.

Luck’s unofficial 4.59 matched Newton’s official best time from 2011. Luck’s 10-foot, 4-inch broad jump was just 2 inches off Newton’s 10-6, the best of last year’s QB crop.

Finally, Luck notched a 36-inch vertical, actually besting Newton’s 35-inch jump from last year.

Luck’s numbers clearly demonstrate a level of athleticism with which the Colts should be very pleased.

UPDATE: Luck’s official 40 time was 4.67 seconds, fourth-best among QBs at the combine.

– Aron Angel

Stay on top of all the results with NFL.com’s combine tracker.

Few receivers can hang with RGIII’s speed

INDIANAPOLIS — Just to put Robert Griffin III‘s unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.38 seconds in perspective, only four wide receivers ran faster Sunday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill had the fastest time of the group with a 4.30. The other three speedsters included Miami’s Travis Benjamin (4.32), N.C. State’s T.J. Graham (4.35) and Wake Forest’s Chris Givens (4.37), with one more group of receivers still to run.

Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, one of the top receiver prospects here, clocked in at 4.42.

UPDATE: Official times are in, and Hill finished at 4.36, tied with Benjamin and Stanford’s Chris Owusu for the fastest 40 by a receiver at this year’s combine. Graham and Given officially ran in 4.41, and Floyd clocked in at 4.47.

– Aron Angel

Stay on top of all the results with NFL.com’s combine tracker.

Blackmon runs the gauntlet, sits out 40 as expected

INDIANAPOLIS — Justin Blackmon‘s tender hamstring didn’t keep him out of every drill Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine, as the Oklahoma State receiver participated in the gauntlet, in which players are thrown passes in rapid-fire succession while running from sideline to sideline.

“It’s feeling pretty good,” Blackmon told NFL.com’s Steve Wyche when asked about his hamstring after the gauntlet drill. “I can feel it. I just wanted to go there and compete.”

A source with knowledge of the situation told Wyche on Saturday that Blackmon might sit out the drills to rest for his March 9 pro day. Blackmon said earlier in the week that he wouldn’t run the 40-yard dash, and he indeed sat out. He also skipped the broad jump, vertical jump, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle.

Blackmon is considered to be the top receiver prospect in the draft and could go in the top five picks. He told Wyche on Sunday that he’ll do all the drills he misses at the combine at his pro day and even will re-run routes.

– Justin Hathaway

RGIII unofficially timed at 4.38 seconds in 40-yard dash

INDIANAPOLIS — Robert Griffin III opened Sunday’s NFL Scouting Combine workouts with a flash, running 40-yard dashes in 4.38 and 4.41 seconds unofficially.

The Baylor QB, who’s expected to be picked in the top four of the NFL draft, didn’t do anything to hurt his stock, as no other signal-caller came close to his times. Griffin won’t throw at the combine, but he’s expected to do all other drills.

UPDATE: Griffin’s official 40 time was 4.41 seconds, best among QBs at this year’s combine. It also was the third-fastest time at the combine since 2000, trailing only Michael Vick (4.33 in 2000) and Reggie McNeal (4.40 in 2006).

– Justin Hathaway

Stay on top of all the results with NFL.com’s combine tracker.

Skill players flash some strength in bench press

INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday is the marquee day for on-field workouts, with quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers scheduled to take their turn through the NFL Scouting Combine car wash.

But before they run 40-yard dashes and sprint around cones, they visited Cardinals strength coach John Lott in the weight room Saturday to bench-press 225 pounds as many times as they could. Here’s how they did:

Quarterbacks
LSU’s Jordan Jefferson and Oregon’s Darron Thomas were the only signal-callers to attempt the bench press, each throwing up the weight 14 times. Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler won’t participate in any drills, he said, because of a sprained foot.

Top running backs
Doug Martin, Boise State: 28 reps
Robert Turbin, Utah State: 28
Jewel Hampton, Southern Illinois: 26
Tauren Poole, Tennessee: 24
Vick Ballard, Mississippi State: 23
Devin Meggett, Maryland: 23

Top wide receivers
Jerrell Jackson, Missouri: 22 reps
Marv Jones, California: 22
Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma: 21
Junior Hemingway, Michigan: 21
Rishard Matthews, Nevada: 20

Stay on top of all the results with NFL.com’s combine tracker.

Lott takes pride in being motivating force on bench press

INDIANAPOLIS — Fifteen years ago, the NFL Scouting Combine experience dramatically changed for the better when John Lott took over spotting prospects on the bench press.

Cardinals strength coach John Lott instructs prospects Saturday on the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine. (Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

“When I put you in this setting, and I kind of back you into a corner, how are you going to respond?,” Lott, the Cardinals’ strength coach, said Saturday in between sessions at Lucas Oil Stadium. “You want to be a player? Show me what you’ve got.”

When it’s go time, Lott is no-nonsense behind the bench, like a drill sergeant trying to get the best out of his soldiers. Maybe it’s the Bill Parcells effect, since Lott got his NFL start with the Jets while Parcells was coach.

That would explain Lott’s philosophy on the bench press’ role at the combine.

“(Prospects) might’ve gone through a Wonderlic Test about how their grandma fed them, about how they didn’t have a dad in their life, and we find out about their history and how they enjoy football, if they’ve been in a fistfight,” Lott said. “OK, I hear what you’re saying, but this is, ‘I see what you’re doing.’ This is, ‘Have you been working out? And when you’ve been working out, how strong are you? And when you start to fade out, how long can you last?’ “

In other words, get your mind right — something Lott preaches daily here.

Yes, Lott is intense. Yes, he’s loud. Yes, he’s in your face. All of that might seem like nothing more than show for the TV cameras.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

“This isn’t about me. It’s about us,” Lott said. “I’m a real big team guy. This isn’t golf, this isn’t tennis. This is football. And I truly believe when I’m spotting somebody that I’m representing him and representing the coaches in the stands. I’ve really embodied that.

“It’s not meant to be arrogant or condescending. I want the guys to understand that at that moment, they don’t have a bigger fan in the room than me.”

– Simon Samano

Coples unfazed by criticism, appreciates high expectations

INDIANAPOLIS — Quinton Coplesmight have the most to gain here at the NFL Scouting Combine, but the North Carolina defensive lineman isn’t concerned about people who knock him for a lack of consistency or an overall drop in play in 2011.

Quinton Coples answers questions from the media Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine. (Brian Spurlock/US Presswire)

“I’m my biggest (critic),” Coples said Saturday. “I criticize myself harder than anyone else can, so I’m definitely prepared for whatever is said about me.”

That would be that his production didn’t pick up when he moved from defensive tackle back to his regular position at defensive end. Also, that he lacks consistency and effort.

NFL scouts want to know who the real Quinton Coples is. Is he the underperforming senior who registered just 7.5 sacks after a junior season in which he played out of position? Or is he the dominating force witnessed at last month’s Senior Bowl?

To that, Coples said he’s unfazed.

“A lot of people have a lot of high expectations for me. I appreciate that,” Coples said. “But when you’re playing the game of football, you have things that happen that don’t go as planned. I think it was a situation that happened that I learned from, I matured from, and I think I’ll reap the benefits at the next level.”

– Aron Angel

Dimitroff: Falcons don’t regret trading up for WR Jones

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff answered questions Friday about his 2011 draft-day trade

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff addresses questions about his 2010 draft-day deal for Julio Jones. (Gary A. Vasquez/NFL)

INDIANAPOLIS — This is a big offseason for Thomas Dimitroff. With 18 unrestricted free agents to contend with and no picks in the first round of the upcoming draft, the Falcons general manager has his work cut out for him.

Barring any movement up the draft board — something Dimitroff has proven he isn’t afraid to do — the Falcons’ first pick will be at No. 55, the result of last year’s trade with the Browns to move up 21 spots to draft WR Julio Jones.

Dimitroff said he’s “very comfortable” with last year’s trade to acquire Jones, who posted 54 receptions for 959 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games as a rookie.

“We will never look back on our move as overly expensive. It was something we deemed was right for the organization at the right time,” Dimitroff said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Again, Julio was brought in to our organization not for the here and now only, but for the future of the franchise.”

Added Dimitroff: “I don’t think, in this day and age, you can just sit on your hands and wait for things to always come to you. If you have a desire and you know what you want as an organization, I firmly believe you have to go after it.”

He admitted though that the anticipation of a rookie wage scale helped make the decision to move from the No. 27 pick to No. 6 an easier one, and he expects that to be the case for more teams in the future.

“I believed, knowing that there was going to be an adjustment, that it took an element of risk out of making a 21-point move in the draft,” Dimitroff said. “I do believe going forward that that’s going to effect the movement in the top 10 picks. I can’t speak for myself this year, because obviously we’re not in the first round, but I believe there are a lot of my contemporaries in the business who will consider that as one less element to think about compared to other years.”

– Aron Angel

Alabama’s Upshaw draws energy from Saban, Indy visit

INDIANAPOLIS — Whether Courtney Upshaw winds up at linebacker or defensive end in the NFL largely will depend on where he goes in April’s draft, but no

Alabama LB Courtney Upshaw takes questions from the media Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine. (Brian Spurlock/US Presswire)

matter. After four seasons under coach Nick Saban at Alabama, Upshaw feels prepared.

“Background alone, (Saban) tried to teach us that to be great and be ready for the league, (you) prepare to be great, prepare for the league,” Upshaw told reporters Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “So, he got everybody ready, man. He’s a phenomenal coach, and I’m glad to be a player for him.”

Upshaw was part of an outrageous Crimson Tide defense that boasted a laundry list of probable NFL players, including DL Josh Chapman and LB Dont’a Hightower, along with DBs Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie.

Boston Herald reporter Ian Rapoport asked if Upshaw watched the Patriots play, and, if so, saw similarities to what Saban — with deep ties to Bill Belichick — ran at Alabama.

“Honestly, I’m a Colts fan,” Upshaw said, “so I particularly try to watch the Colts’ games all the time, but watching the championship game, I’m also a big defensive fan, so I kind of paid more attention to the Giants because … my friend (receiver) Jerrel Jernigan played there, so I was really focusing on the Giants. So, I mean I really haven’t caught too many Patriots games to be honest with you.”

Upshaw told NFL.com that, as a Colts fan, it has been a special experience to go through the combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“It’s cool, man,” he said. “To be in the facility has been fun. To look at the pictures and stuff up on the wall, of Peyton (Manning) and other guys that I watched. It’s been fun.”

– Marc Sessler

Colts’ Saturday can see Manning moving on if he must

Colts center Jeff Saturday was a guest combine analyst for NFL Network on Saturday. (Gary A. Vasquez/NFL)

INDIANAPOLIS — Colts center Jeff Saturday said he could envision QB Peyton Manning playing for another team but also could see him harmoniously co-existing with the projected No. 1 overall draft pick, Stanford’s Andrew Luck.

In a spirited discussion during NFL.com’s live broadcast of the NFL Scouting Combine, Saturday said if the Colts don’t want Manning, the future Hall of Famer won’t necessarily hang up his cleats.

“Peyton is a football player,” Saturday said. “He wants to play football, regardless if it’s (in Indianapolis) or anywhere else … And your loyalty lies to being a football player far more than it does to one single team.”

Even though Manning loves the organization and the city, business is business, Saturday said. He added that if the Colts release the quarterback, “he’s going to leave this thing as well as you can leave,” without anger or acrimony.

Saturday said if the Colts draft Luck or Robert Griffin III, the team would be “doing it for the future, not necessarily for the moment.”

“The reality is, if they think Peyton’s the guy, Peyton’s the guy… I don’t care what quarterback you bring in, they’re not going to be better than Peyton Manning right away.”

Saturday acknowledged the turnover in management and the coaching staff would indicate Indianapolis might be inclined to move on, but if Manning were to start winning 12 games per year again, the team would have no choice but to stick with the veteran. Saturday added it wouldn’t “be fair” to expect Manning to stay for one year while Luck or Griffin was groomed for the job.

– Steve Wyche

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89

Colts: Only medical staff can watch Manning before March 8

Colts QB Peyton Manning isn't allowed to throw for team officials until April. (Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

INDIANAPOLIS — Colts center Jeff Saturday was emphatic Saturday during NFL Network’s combine coverage that if the team really wants Peyton Manning, it should call the quarterback and schedule a throwing session to check his health.

The problem, the Colts told NFL Network’s Albert Breer, is that no team officials outside of medical personnel can watch Manning throw until April because of rules in the new collective bargaining agreement. Since Manning failed his exit physical after neck surgery, only trainers are permitted to observe him and can report back, but by rule can’t tape any workouts.

So owner Jim Irsay, general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano won’t have a firsthand look at how Manning is performing before March 8, the deadline for the team to decide whether or not to pay him a $28 million roster bonus.

Saturday also said on NFL Network that Manning “absolutely” would play next season, adding, “I hope it’s here (in Indianapolis), but he’ll be playing somewhere.”

Hamstring injury might keep Blackmon out of all drills

INDIANAPOLIS — Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon said Friday that he won’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, but a source with knowledge of the situation revealed the player might not go through any drills so he can rest his tender hamstring and be fully healthy for his March 9 pro day.

Blackmon, considered the top receiver in this year’s draft class, will decide Sunday, just before the drills, if he feels healthy enough to participate.

Blackmon did participate in the bench press Saturday, lifting 225 pounds 14 times, eight behind the leaders.

– Steve Wyche

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89

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