AFC West: combine 2010

Moving away from the combine

February, 28, 2010
I am traveling back from Indianapolis where I covered the NFL combine for a few days.

It was a great experience. It gave me a chance to not only begin draft preparations, which will be held April 22-24, but to get a good feel for what may occur in free agency, which starts Friday.

When I return Sunday afternoon, I will give updates on any happenings in the AFC West.

Gerhart just another running back

February, 27, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS – Toby Gerhart simply says he’s "colorblind."



The Stanford product is one of the more intriguing running back prospects at the NFL combine. The Heisman Trophy runner-up is a rugged, tough runner, who is a yardage eater. It wouldn’t be a shock if both San Diego and Kansas City considered adding the big back to their roster in the early rounds.

Saturday at the combine, Gerhart was asked about being a rarity – a white running back.

“I’m colorblind – I’m a running back,” Gerhart said.

Good answer.

Gerhart said that he found it amusing that he is often compared to “other white guys.” He said he often hears that he reminds people of former NFL running backs John Riggins and Mike Alstott. However, Gerhart said he has modeled his game after former NFL running backs Eddie George and Corey Dillon.

“I’m a physical runner, but I can give a little wiggle, too,” Gerhart said. “I just want the opportunity to play in the NFL.”

There’s no doubt that is about to happen.

Clausen talks up Weis

February, 27, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- If the Kansas City Chiefs are interested in reuniting Jimmy Clausen with Charlie Weis, his former coach at Notre Dame, the quarterback would be all for it.

Clausen couldn’t stop praising Weis on Saturday when he met the media at the NFL combine. There have been some reports that Kansas City could be tempted to take Clausen. Weis is the Chiefs’ new offensive coordinator.

"He's a great quarterback coach, one of the best I've ever had. He's probably the smartest coach I've ever been around,” Clausen said. “Coach Weis definitely knows what he's doing. He puts me in a great position to go out there and just play football and make plays."

Clausen, who said he talked to Washington and Buffalo on Friday night, credits Weis for preparing him for this weekend and beyond.

"I've been in coach Weis' system the past three years. I'm a little familiar with the West Coast system,” Clausen said. “I've played under center for the past three years under coach Weis. We've been in shotgun, so I've been a lot of different variety of offenses."
INDIANAPOLIS – Jonathan Dwyer believes he was the first running back San Diego interviewed at the NFL combine this week.



The Georgia Tech running back hopes he is the first player San Diego selects in the NFL draft.

San Diego will be looking for at least one running back as it moves away from the LaDainian Tomlinson era. With backup Darren Sproles headed to free agency, San Diego may have to totally revamp. The Chargers will certainly look at running back with the No. 28 pick.

Dwyer is a real possibility.

He said he had a terrific meeting with several of the Chargers’ brass here. He said he had other meetings but none were as involved and as productive as his meeting with San Diego.

“I think they like me and I know I like them,” Dwyer said. “ I really like coach (Norv) Turner. I think it’d be a great fit … They are a power team and I think it really fits what I do.”

San Diego is clearly talking to several running backs this week, but it may be hard pressed to find a player more individually impressive as Dwyer.
INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Mathews admitted that his eyes opened wide when San Diego cut legendary running back LaDainian Tomlinson on Monday.

There is a job opening in San Diego. Mathews wouldn’t have to travel far to fill it.

The Fresno State running back is from Bakersfield, Calif. He admitted Friday at the NFL combine he’d love to get the opportunity to replace Tomlinson. He said he has talked to team this week. Expect San Diego, though, to talk to several running backs at the combine as its tries to figure out who will replace Tomlinson.

Mathews is up for the task.

“I’m a homegrown California guy, it would be great,” Mathews said. “They have an opening there. I hope it works out and I can go there.”

He has a chance. The Chargers have the No. 28 overall pick and running back will be of the team’s top options. Mathews will likely be available when San Diego picks.

“I really think it would be a great fit,” Mathews said.

Tim Tebow steals the show

February, 26, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- It may be a long shot that Tim Tebow joins the AFC West.

If he does, make some room. He attracts a crowd.

Tebow, by far, drew the largest media contingent of the NFL combine thus far for his interview session. As soon as the Florida quarterback was announced, reporters and photographers rushed to his assigned podium.

It was standing room only. Tebow didn’t disappoint. He smiled, laughed and even signed a reporter’s notebook. The reporter didn’t ask for the memento.

Tebow is a charmer, no doubt about it.

The question NFL teams want answered, of course, is whether he can throw. We won’t find that out here because Tebow has decided against tossing the ball. The mystery continues.

But we do know he can he take over a room.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Eric Decker admits he was quite down about his future after he suffered a Lisfranc sprain, which ended his decorated career as a star receiver at Minnesota last fall.

Then, he got a call from Brandon Stokley. Decker’s spirits were immediately lifted.

“I realized that you can come back,” Decker said Friday at the NFL combine.

Stokley, a veteran receiver for Denver, also suffered the injury, which is a tear of the ligament that holds the first two toes in place. Stokley came back from the injury in 2002.

After Decker was injured, Minnesota assistant Jedd Fisch reached out to Stokley to see if he could encourage the young wideout. Fisch coached Stokley in Denver in 2008. Stokley immediately contacted Decker.

“He was there for me and told me the process,” Decker said. “He told me that some days there will be no pain and some days, there will be a lot of pain. He just laid it out for me.”

Decker is still recovering from the injury, but he is still expected to be a high draft pick. He said he will always be indebted to Stokley.

“He helped me out a lot.” Decker said. “We still keep in touch about football stuff. He’s been a mentor.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- Thursday, Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli said that the team has been in contact with their prospective free agents and the team wants to keep many of them.

The focal point of the Chiefs’ own free agency class is receiver Chris Chambers. He was a fantastic addition to the team after he was claimed off waivers by San Diego. In nine games with Kansas City, Chambers had 36 catches for 608 yards and four touchdowns. In seven games for San Diego, Chambers had nine catches for 122 yards and one touchdown.

He quickly became Matt Cassel's favorite target. He is a key for Kansas City moving forward.

So it is no surprise that the scuttlebutt at the combine is that the Chiefs and Chambers’ agent are working hard to get an extension done. Pioli wasn’t specific about any of his players Thursday, but he did say his own free agents are important. In my mind, none are more important than Chambers. So, it makes sense that these two sides are working to get a deal done.

Catching up with Mike Shanahan

February, 26, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Denver coach Mike Shanahan addressed the media at the NFL scouting combine in his first field trip as the head coach of the Washington Redskins.

Shanahan must be turning a new leaf. He never spoke at the combine as Denver’s head coach. Heck, he was rarely even seen at the combine as Denver’s coach.

Yet, Shanahan was holding court Friday as the head coach of the Redskins.

It was the first time I’ve seen him since he was fired by the Broncos 14 months ago. He looked fresh and happy. Shanahan didn’t talk too much about his Broncos days, but he said it was a special time in his life. He also said he felt he left the team in pretty good shape when he was fired after 14 seasons in Denver.

I believe he was referring to the team’s offense. Josh McDaniels did inherit the No. 2 ranked offense in the league.

Here are some other highlights of Shanahan’s time with the media:

Shanahan did little to dismiss the notion that he could be interested in recently released San Diego star running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Shanahan said that he and Tomlinson are good friends and that he respects him. Perhaps realizing he was saying too much, Shanahan abruptly said he didn’t want to discuss Tomlinson anymore.

Shanahan loves veterans and he has always admired Tomlinson. I see a fit.

Shanahan said he was his talks with Buffalo at the end of last year were serious. However, he said his wife, Peggy, was not interested in dealing with the Buffalo weather.

Shanahan said he is following the Darrent Williams murder trial and he said he hopes justice prevails.

Shanahan is excited to have the No. 4 pick in the draft. He noted the last time he had a high pick was in 1998, his first year as the Raiders’ coach. They took star receiver Tim Brown at No. 6.

Chiefs are hoping Rams take a QB

February, 26, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- There is growing sentiment that Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford could catapult to the No. 1 overall spot and be drafted by the St. Louis Rams.

This would be a fantastic scenario for the Kansas City Chiefs.

If a quarterback -- either Bradford or Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen -- is taken at No. 1, it will push the draft’s best prospects further down the board than expected. Kansas City will benefit if a quarterback is taken in the first four picks. The only possibilities are at No. 1 and No. 4 with Washington.

The top three prospects on many team’s boards are defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy and safety Eric Berry. If the Rams take a quarterback, Suh and McCoy will probably be taken at No. 2 and No. 3 by Detroit and Tampa Bay. Washington will likely take a quarterback or left tackle. So, in that scenario, Berry would fall to the Chiefs.

Kansas City needs a safety and Berry is considered an impact player. He’d be a perfect fit there. Many league observers predict Berry is headed to Tampa Bay with the No. 3 pick. But if the Rams take a quarterback all bets are off.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Scott Pioli is excited about his first key additions to his 2010 Kansas City Chiefs.

While here for the NFL combine, Pioli spoke to the media Thursday. In his typical close-to-the-vest approach, the Chiefs general manager had little to say about the team’s draft or free-agency plans.

Yet, Pioli was effusive in his praise of his new coordinators, Charlie Weis (offense) and Romeo Crennel (defense). The three men were together during the New England dynasty days of the early 2000s.

Pioli believes the presence of Crennel and Weis -- who were both head coaches after leaving New England following the 2004 season -- will only help young head coach Todd Haley. All four men worked together with the New York Jets in the late 1990s.

“It’s a good dynamic,” Pioli said.

Pioli said he and Haley will benefit from Crennel and Weis because the two coordinators won’t be afraid to tell the truth and tell the head men what they believe.

“It’s a good sounding board,” Pioli said.

Pioli also addressed several topics Thursday. Here are some of the highlights:

Pioli said the team will be active in free agency. The Chiefs weren’t overly active last year, but Pioli indicated that the team tried but didn’t finalize deals with some players.

“We’re to try to be active and improve and supplement our team through free agency,” said Pioli, who added he believes the draft is the best way of building a team.

He said the team has been in touch with all of the Chiefs’ pending free agents and talks will continue.

Pioli said he’d consider entering restricted free agency buying market if there was a deal that made sense.

Asked if he thought Weis could have the same impact on Matt Cassel that he had on Tom Brady, Pioli said, “they are different people. I want Matt Cassel to be the best Matt Cassel he can be.”

Pioli said Haley is getting better at delegating responsibilities as he enters his second season as an NFL head coach.

Pioli said the team will look at adding some offense linemen.

“We have some good offensive linemen and we need some more good offensive linemen,” he said.

Pioli admitted that when healthy players choose not to work out at the combine that it does affect their draft status in his eyes.

“I want to see them compete,” he said.

AFC West chat transcript

February, 25, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- Here is a transcript of our AFC West/combine chat held earlier Thursday.

Thanks to everyone who participated.



Saturday, 12/20
Sunday, 12/21
Monday, 12/22