NFC South: rookie symposium

Some pre-combine scouting

February, 14, 2012
BRADENTON, Fla. -- I’m going to get a little preview of the scouting combine Tuesday. I’m down at IMG Football Academy, where I’ll soon be heading out to the practice field to watch some of the draft prospects working out.

I’ll be out of pocket for a bit because I’ll be interviewing IMG Football Academy director Chris Weinke, the former quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, and some of the players for several stories over the coming days. While I’m out of pocket, keep an eye on the headlines section of our main NFL page for any news on the NFC South. Weinke obviously is doing some good things here -- he worked with Carolina’s Cam Newton and Minnesota’s Christian Ponder last winter and spring.

I’ll check back in this afternoon, but right now I’m looking forward to seeing how these players are going about getting ready for the combine, an event where their performance could have a big impact on the rest of their lives. I was down here last summer when the rookie symposium and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' minicamp were held here during the lockout and the facility is quite impressive.

In addition to the on-field work, the combine-preparation program also focuses on physical conditioning, speed and movement, nutrition, vision training and mental conditioning.

Here’s a list at some of the draft prospects who have been taking part in the program along with their college and positions:
Bradenton, Fla., is nicknamed “The Friendly City." For a few days next week, the name “center of the NFL universe’’ might be fitting.

With apologies to whatever city might be hosting labor talks, if they’re still going on, Bradenton is going to have the market pretty well cornered on NFL players. The NFL usually holds a rookie symposium each year. Due to the lockout, the NFL Players Association is organizing a similar event in which players will be given advice on how to prepare for life in the NFL.

That will take place Tuesday and Wednesday at IMG Academies. That’s going to be a very busy place because the rookie event won’t be the only thing going on. The Bucs will hold a three-day minicamp, which is significant.

The Saints, Falcons and Panthers already have done their versions of minicamps (without coaches). This will be the first real extensive gathering of the majority of the Bucs. Quarterback Josh Freeman has done a nice job of organizing earlier workouts, but they primarily were just for offensive skill-position players. Freeman and veteran cornerback Ronde Barber have collaborated on getting most of the team together.

ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio and I will be in Bradenton to cover the rookie event and I’ll also try to swing out and catch up with the Bucs.