NFL Nation: 2010 combine

Berry wants to leave 'no doubt'

February, 28, 2010
File PhotoTennessee's Eric Berry is aiming to prove that he is the top pick in this year's draft.
INDIANAPOLIS -- University of Tennessee safety Eric Berry is generally regarded as one of the top five prospects in this year's NFL draft.

But according to Berry, his goal by the end of the scouting combine is to prove he's the top player available.

"I really just want to come here and leave no doubt," Berry said. "That's pretty much my whole goal for coming to the combine. For everyone who has that little percentage in their mind that I'm not good enough to be No. 1 or up with there with the other guys, I'm trying to clear that up right now."

Berry likely will be the first defensive back taken in the April draft. In the AFC North, the Cleveland Browns are a potential target for him with the No. 7 overall pick.

The Tennessee safety's ball-hawking skills are often compared to Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens. Berry finished his college career with a Reed-like 14 interceptions for 494 interception return yards and three touchdowns.

Berry also said he studies a lot of Reed's game film, in addition to Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bob Sanders of the Indianapolis Colts and former Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. Berry also was fortunate to play one season at Tennessee under longtime NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who believes Berry is ready for the next level.

"Monte said I would be a fool to come back," Berry said laughing. "He made me so much of a better player, just from the mental part of the game. He told us exactly why he was calling the play. He didn't just call the play and make us run it...You kind of got in the mind of a defensive coordinator."

No franchise tag for Austin

February, 26, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Dallas Cowboys had until Thursday to place a franchise tag on wide receiver Miles Austin but that obviously didn't happen. Executive vice president Stephen Jones recently said the Cowboys would not go that route, which would've earned Austin somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 million in 2010. And with Austin becoming a restricted free agent next week, there was really no reason for the Cowboys to use the tag.

Dallas will likely offer Austin the highest tender ($3.168 million) in April, although Jones didn't want to reveal his strategy while talking to reporters on his family's luxury bus Thursday afternoon.

"I'm optimistic, but I can't talk timing," Stephen Jones said Thursday about signing Austin to a long-term deal. "This is a different environment right now. We don't know what kind of system we're going to be in other than we're going into an uncapped year. It's challenging. You never say never, but you just have no idea right now."

What Jones didn't say is that he and his father are worried about the potential of a 2011 lockout. That's on all the owners' minds right now, which makes it difficult to structure contracts. But if Austin gets off to a fast start in 2010, I'd be very surprised if the Cowboys let him play the entire season without a contract extension. I've been texting Austin on a weekly basis, so I'll let you know when he starts to worry. He's not even close to worrying at this point.