The Pride of North Dakota
Monday Morning Quarterback

The Pride of North Dakota

Carson Wentz, the boy from Bismarck, took the NFL combine by storm and has a governor and senator in his corner as he tries to become the first quarterback taken in the 2016 draft. Plus more notes from Indy, a Peyton Manning update and the Rams try to solve an L.A. logistical puzzle

Gregory Payan/AP

INDIANAPOLIS — The governor of North Dakota, Jack Dalrymple, was on the phone from Bismarck on Saturday afternoon. The state stopped for an hour or so Saturday to watch favorite son Carson Wentz from North Dakota State run and throw at the NFL scouting combine. If they couldn’t watch on TV, they could call their neighbors and ask how Wentz was doing down with the big boys at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“I’ve been in contact with quite a few North Dakotans today,” Dalrymple said, “and everyone’s saying, ‘Any word on Carson? What do you hear?’ I never remember anything like this before in our state. He’s down there throwing in front of all those coaches and scouts, and Bill Belichick is watching Carson? Well, our buttons are just popping.”

Is there a more North Dakotan thing you could imagine the governor saying?

I don’t know quite how to write this or communicate it without sounding all Leave It To Beaver. But it’s like North Dakota has sent its best and its brightest to the biggest league there is, and the state is holding its breath to see if local boy makes good. And in a cynical burn-Goodell-at-the-stake time for the NFL, when head trauma and a 20-year-old Peyton Manning scandal and a Deflategate appeal rearing its ugly head are the headlines of the day, there’s something, well, needed about a humble straight-A student (I mean, Wentz has never gotten a B in school) trying to become the state’s best athletic export since Roger Maris left Fargo 62 years ago. 

• A LEGEND AND HIS DAUGHTER’S LEGACY: Emily Kaplan details the life’s work of Fred Biletnikoff 

This is a not a marquee draft. At all. A shy offensive tackle from Mississippi, Laremy Tunsil, is the odds-on-favorite to be the first overall pick. There isn’t a no-doubt quarterback (though Wentz and Jared Goff and perhaps Paxton Lynch will go in the top half of the first round), nor was there an offensive splash player who riveted the coaches and scouts at the combine. There are some good defensive tackles—you can’t put those guys on billboards—but there’s not a can’t-miss, big-name guy on defense, unless you’re in love with Joey Bosa. (Some teams are.) And recent duds Tennessee and Cleveland and San Diego pick 1-2-3 in this juiceless lottery.

The point is, I could see Wentz becoming the big star of a starless draft. Not that he cares, or wants the attention. He won’t want it. But the NFL does a good job of inventing heroes, and the first quarterback picked in any draft is going to get the hype machine going. And as teams prepare to leave Indianapolis at the close of the combine today, with the draft two months away, Wentz could be that guy. Cleveland has a crying need post-Manziel for a franchise quarterback. It’s too early to ID the leader in the clubhouse, but the temperatures I took of quarterback-needy teams over the week showed Wentz leading in the race for first QB off the board.

What I heard from two teams that met with Wentz this weekend was consistent with what happened at the Senior Bowl last month. The attention and jump from the second division of college football to the NFL hasn’t been a big factor to Wentz, the 6-5 redhead with a scraggly beard and easy demeanor.

“It’s just football,” Wentz told me as he waited for his shuttle to the airport after throwing Saturday afternoon.

“Everything that comes with the game, I think I will handle it extremely easily,” he said. “I don’t let a lot of that outside stuff bother me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about the jump in competition. Even at North Dakota State, football is a big deal. Now I understand it is going to be ramped up times five. But I’ve never let outside anything distract me or make me press to do better or make me get down in the dumps because they are saying something that really bothers me. I stay focused on what I can control and just be the best I can be.”


Carson Wentz helped lead North Dakota State to an FCS national title in 2015.

The best a kid from Bismarck (population: 61,000) can be was good enough to win back-to-back FCS national titles at North Dakota State. Those who know Wentz think he’ll withstand the heaviness of the burden he’s about to experience. “We live in Bismarck,” said U.S. Senator John Hoeven. “We know the family. We know Carson. And he is absolutely a class act. So humble, so respectful. He’s exactly the kind of person we’d want representing our state—and he’s exactly the kind of person a team would want as its quarterback.”

NFL backup quarterback Ryan Lindley is Wentz’s personal quarterback coach this winter. Lindley worked with Wentz for six weeks in Irvine, Calif., prepping for the combine, and they’ll continue the sessions Tuesday after a short break. (Coincidentally, Lindley, who was retained by agent Ryan Tollner to prep Wentz, is working with Tollner’s other client too: Goff. Lindley is training two guys who want to beat each other out and become the first passer picked in the draft.) “[Carson] is everything that is pure about the game,” Lindley said Sunday night. “He is so refreshing. That’s the word that comes to mind—refreshing. Sadly, some of us lose that as we get rubbed the wrong way in the game sometimes.”

As for the jump in competition? “I played in the Mountain West Conference,” said Lindley, “and I think that’ll be about the same jump for Carson coming from North Dakota State. If you put too much stock in that, you’ll be looking at the wrong thing. Look at the mental aspect of a quarterback’s job in the NFL, and the responsibility of a quarterback. Carson does as much before the snap as anyone I’ve seen in college. He ran a pro-style offense in college, and he’s doing more than lots of guys in the pros too. Carson runs his protection. He makes checks at the line and tells the line where to slide. They gave him plays or series at North Dakota State where they’d call the formation, and then Carson would have to make a call of a play, then go to the line and move protection if he had to. I talk to Carson about those things, and he just gets giddy. He’s not going to have a problem with the mental aspect, or the work ethic. He just loves this stuff.”

• JAMEIS WINSTON—WHAT I LEARNED: The Bucs QB reflects on his rookie year, including what he learned about leadership

This weekend, throwing against no one (the combine custom for quarterbacks), Wentz displayed an easy motion and strong mechanics. He completed three straight deep post-corner routes. Lindley wants him working on using his legs more to help him “get another gear on his throws.” And the game will be faster, which is an adjustment for every quarterback.

It’s easy to say Wentz will adapt. Joe Flacco, from Delaware did—and right away with the Ravens in 2008 as a mid-first-round pick. The only two passers from smaller schools picked in the top 10—Phil Simms (1979, Morehead State) and Steve McNair (1995, Alcorn State)—over the past 40 years made it too. It just took longer. Wentz will need to go to a program with some patience. If it’s Cleveland, and the Browns keep Josh McCown, he’d be a great mentor for Wentz—patient and smart and truly unselfish; new coach Hue Jackson would be a good coach for Wentz, deflecting the pressure. But Wentz would probably have to play early there. In Dallas, picking fourth, he’d get to learn behind a pro, Tony Romo. In San Francisco, picking seventh, he’d have a good quarterback brain in Chip Kelly.

Wentz probably should sit for a year and soak in the new world. But who knows if he’ll get that chance? And he did so much in college in a pro-style scheme that maybe he can overcome the gulf in competition because of his mental edge.

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Wentz is back in Fargo today, and he’ll feel the love around campus. The public love, he said, “I don’t feel a ton, but I know they have my back, and I know they are crazy supportive. I am definitely appreciative of that, and North Dakota always will be home. Hard work is the mantra around there. I just want to represent the state extremely well and I take great pride in where I am from. But all the pressure that might come with that, it’s easy for me to not worry about that and focus on what I can control, and that’s getting better every day, coming to the combine and proving myself and taking it one day at a time.”

When Wentz talks about the biggest players in the game, and what he’s learned from watching them, there’s a humility but no sense he feels like he doesn’t belong. “Names that come to mind that I’ve learned from are Tom Brady—the way he gets the ball out and is so decisive. You can tell he is in total control out there. Another name is Aaron Rodgers, and how he’s in total command. And also, Cam Newton, the way he has fun. I love that part of it. I won’t be as flashy as him, but I love the energy. That’s what I like to bring to practice and bring to games, just the energy and emotion.”

Wentz didn’t mention confidence, but watching some clips of him, it’s pretty obvious he has faith in his ability. In the final minute against Northern Iowa last year, he threw to a blanketed wideout, Darrius Shepherd. It was a perfect 18-yard rainbow, dropped into a spot where only Shepherd could catch it.

“I just have to have trust in my guys to make plays,” he said. “I play at a confident, fast pace, and when I like something, I take it. I rip it.”

Now about the straight A’s, forever. Growing up in Bismarck, Wentz started getting letter grades in fourth grade. It sounds nuts, and it probably is nuts, but Wentz said even through college, from fourth grade until last semester at North Dakota State, has never gotten a grade lower than an A. “I take great pride in the things I do. If I am given a task, I’m going to do it with 110 percent of my ability. I was trying to be the best I can be at everything so that’s how I applied myself to academics, the same way I do for football, the same way I do to my faith and everything in my life. I came close a couple of times [to a B], got a couple of low A’s, but I pulled it out in the end and it’s still an A.”

Teams will spend the next two months looking for flaws in Wentz’s football and life. They may have to look hard. Just ask the governor. Or senator. Or anyone in the state, apparently.

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Ohio State’s Joey Bosa is one of the top edge rush prospects in the 2016 draft.

Notes from the Combine

1. I wouldn't bet the franchise on any pass-rusher in this draft. Coming in, Noah Spence—who got booted off Ohio State’s team for drug violations, then finished at Eastern Kentucky—was going to be one of the best edge-rush prospects. Then he ran a 4.80-second 40 here. As much as we justifyingly ho-hum results of runs and lifts and such, that’s just not good. And Joey Bosa, Spence’s former Buckeye mate (who had just five sacks last season) ran just okay at 4.87 seconds. Pass-rushers are so difficult to project. Two years ago Jadeveon Clowney—despite mediocre college production in his final season—was the first overall pick. Now Houston’s got to be asking serious questions about Clowney, who has 4.5 sacks in 17 career games, and has missed 16 games due to injury. There’s something about desire and strength and love of the game (Von Miller, J.J. Watt) that has to be a major part of the process. The guys at the top of the draft scare me. I’d be more focused on a second-round-type prospect like Oklahoma State’s Emmanuel Ogbah, who was faster than many thought coming in (4.62) and could be a good rush option.

• AN EDUCATION AT THE COMBINE: Robert Mays shares his notes from Indy on the Browns, Rams, QB prospects and more

2. Not so fast on the doom and gloom over Jaylon Smith. At his final college game, the Fiesta Bowl, the Notre Dame linebacker tore two knee ligaments and may have suffered nerve damage. There was justifiable concern over the long-term prospects for Smith, who would have been a top-10 pick had he entered the combine healthy and ready to play in 2016. Now he’s likely out for 2016, and some teams think he’s questionable ever to return to top form. Mike Mayock implied as much on the combine telecast Sunday, from his talks with NFL teams. Look, it’s always hazy to talk about a injured player’s prospects, and when potential nerve damage is involved (see Manning, Peyton), it’s especially dangerous. But I ran into one GM on Saturday, after Smith’s knee exam was done at the combine, and this GM said: “No chance he won’t play at some point, and play well.” It’s a sad thing to see a player with great talent have his dreams smashed by injury, but I’d wait before shoveling dirt on his career. “I can’t tell when I’ll be back,’’ Smith said at the combine, “but I’ll be back 100 percent.”

3. There’s no top pick everyone’s excited about, but I think Laremy Tunsil and Carson Wentz have the best chance of going 1-2 right now. The Ole Miss tackle was fluid and quick and as fast as scouts expected. Wentz, as I indicated, threw the ball well and interviewed quite well with teams here. Tunsil to Tennessee—which allowed the most sacks in 2015—at number one is the most sensible situation. And Cleveland’s picking a quarterback unless the Browns steal Brock Osweiler (unlikely) from Denver in free agency. I hear the Browns liked Wentz over Jared Goff in the interview process, but even if true, we’re in mile 3 of the 26.2-mile draft-process marathon. Over the weekend, I heard more positive stuff about Wentz than Goff from teams with quarterback needs, but that could change six times between now and the draft. 

• EVEN IN THE DRAFT, THERE’S NO SAFE WAY TO TACKLE: Peter King examines the inconsistent history of drafting offensive linemen in top 10

4. Text of the weekend, from an anonymous GM inside the combine. I assume you all saw what happened to defensive line prospect Chris Jones, who fell down at the end of his 40-yard dash, exposing for a second his groin region. “Wish I didn’t see,” said this executive, after the fall. “Just brought lunch in here. Lots of Jimmy Fallon material here.” Perhaps Under Armour might do a better job next year of providing clothing that secures that region of the male anatomy.

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While contemplating his future in football, Peyton Manning also has been enjoying the perks that come along with winning the Super Bowl.

On Peyton Manning

In the wake of columnist Woody Paige’s story in the Denver Post that Peyton Manning will announce his retirement by the end of the week, a few thoughts:

• Manning went to Denver GM John Elway’s home last Tuesday for a meeting, an amicable one, and then spoke to coach Gary Kubiak on the phone because Kubiak had already left for the combine. He is likely to speak to each man again this week. Elway at the combine was determined not to say anything of substance about the process. He’s been a quarterback at the highest level of football, and he believes strongly that Manning deserves to take as much time as he wants (within reason) to make an important life decision.

• Manning said to me on the night of the Super Bowl, “I am going to take my time” in making the decision about his future. He was clearly going to get away with his family, enjoy winning the Super Bowl for a couple of weeks, then get back to the business of figuring out what to do—retire or keep playing, somewhere—by the March 9 deadline for guaranteeing the $19 million salary with Denver in 2016.

This is just something I believe—simply a gut feeling. I think it’s more likely Manning takes all the time before March 9 to make his decision and announcement. He’s always been the kind of person who, even if he is 99.6 percent sure he knows what he’ll do today, will take all the time that’s afforded him before making his call. Who knows? Maybe some interesting option he hadn’t considered pops up, say, next Friday. So my best guess would be Manning announces nothing this week and says whatever he’ll say early next week.

Playing for Denver continues to be an unlikely option, because the Broncos are trying to wedge three important free-agents—Von Miller, Malik Jackson and Brock Osweiler—under the 2016 salary cap by signing all to long-term contracts. Getting all three signed also is unlikely, but all three are bigger priorities for Elway than is Manning, who just had a shaky year and turns 40 in 24 days.

My best guess is he’ll retire. That guess hasn’t changed since the night of the Super Bowl. It’s hard to imagine Manning going somewhere else and playing one more sunset season.

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The Rams already have an idea of what to expect in Oxnard, where they practiced with the Cowboys for two days last summer.

The Rams’ move is going to be an odyssey

I’m not saying the Rams have a built-in excuse to struggle in 2016, but …

Well, come to think of it, maybe I am.

On Friday, in Los Angeles, the Rams’ braintrust and human resources people will gather players in a hotel ballroom to explain what’s about to happen logistically with the team’s move to California. I say California, because the Rams are moving to four places this year:

• To Oxnard, 61 miles up the 101 from Los Angeles, for off-season minicamps and training.

• Then from Oxnard to Irvine, 105 miles south, for summer training camp. (It’s likely the team will have training camp at UC-Irvine.)

• Then from Irvine to Thousand Oaks, 84 miles north, for their in-season practice facility and offices, beginning in late August and running through the season. (The Thousand Oaks details are being finalized.)

• Then, on game days, from Thousands Oaks to the Coliseum in Los Angeles, 43 miles southeast.

And one more thing: The Rams will play a home game in London on Oct. 23 against the Giants. That’s a nice little commute of 5,437 miles, each way.

“Thirty-one other teams in the league right now are staying put, and they’re going through an offseason program and there is stability there,” Rams GM Les Snead said at the combine. “It’s how quickly can we bring stability, from a player perspective, into this offseason program? Because we’re going to kick the season off like everyone else.”

• THE SIX HOURS THAT WILL SHAPE THE NFL’S SECOND CENTURY: Peter King shares the inside story of how the Rams were able to leave St. Louis for L.A.

Other notes about the move: The Rams can’t stay in Oxnard for training camp, though it would have been perfect, because the Cowboys have a contract for the site … The Rams would like to entice Orange County fans back to the fan base; the last time the Rams played in Southern California was in 1994, in Anaheim, in Orange County … The schedule at the Coliseum will be interesting from a couple perspectives. Don’t expect the team to play at the Coliseum on back-to-back days with University of Southern California football, and don’t expect Rams games to be scheduled at the Coliseum on weeknights while school is in session at nearby USC. Because of that, it’s likely the Rams will open the season on the road, because USC is home to Utah State on Saturday Sept. 10, and the opening Sunday of the season is Sept. 11 … The Rams will have a tough time playing home prime-time games then, because USC finals in fall semester don’t end until Dec. 14. That would leave just three weeks to play Thursday or Monday night at home at the storied Coliseum. Of course, we’ll see if the prime-time thing becomes a hard-and-fast rule or a suggested practice. Could be the league or the team will appeal to the Coliseum to play one prime-time game earlier in the season.

Can you imagine, too, if in midseason the Chargers’ attempt to get a new stadium in San Diego falls through, and it’s announced the Chargers will be moving north to Los Angeles for 2017 and beyond? There’s another layer of distraction for the Rams. (And, by the way, I still haven’t heard one person, in the L.A. area or outside of it, who thinks a Chargers move to Los Angeles is a good idea. Because it isn’t.)

After hearing all the details and potential difficulties about this first season of the team in Southern California, two thoughts came to mind: The Rams haven’t finished above .500 in 13 years, have a revolving door at quarterback with no obvious starter now, and are in a division with two legitimate Super Bowl contenders, Arizona and Seattle; how can they expect to be a serious contender for the playoffs this season? And how endangered is Jeff Fisher’s job if he is sub-.500 for the fifth straight season, even with the logistical nightmare? In many ways, it’s a huge year for the Rams, and it can’t be a honeymoon.

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Tony Romo only played in four games for the Cowboys in 2015, missing the rest with collarbone injuries.

Quotes of the Week


“I’m planning on Romo being the quarterback for the next four or five years. That’s a fact.”

—Dallas owner Jerry Jones to ESPN, on his quarterback, Tony Romo, who turns 36 in August.


“You’re either habitual or you’re dumb. Neither of which are qualities the NFL is looking for.”

—Mike Mayock, on players who fail substance-abuse tests at the combine, when they know weeks in advance exactly when the testing will occur.


“I got so sick of eating in college. It's just something you gotta do. It's something that takes a lot of commitment.”

—Offensive tackle Joe Haeg of North Dakota State at the combine, asked about his need to gain weight (he weighs 305) in college.


“She's scared. She's terrified. She's depressed. She cries. She's full of anxiety. She's a very, very changed person. She's not the girl that we used to know at all.”

—Steve Andrews, the father of FOX sideline reporter Erin Andrews, testifying at the Tennessee civil trial in which Andrews is suing a Nashville hotel and its management company, after a stalker videotaped her through a reverse peephole in her door and posted the resulting nude images online.

It won't erase the despicable act, but I hope Andrews gets very rich off this. No one should suffer the way she has after this.

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Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

On Jan. 3, the Giants and Eagles met on the last Sunday of the regular season. The winner would finish second in the NFC East, the loser third. The outcome of the game would put the final piece in the NFC West scheduling puzzle. The second-place team would be matched with Seattle, at Seattle, in 2016. The third-place team would play St. Louis, in a “home” game for the Rams in London in 2016.

The Eagles rallied from a 27-21 deficit with two late touchdowns to beat the Giants, 35-30.

Nine days later, the Rams were approved to move from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

So, late in the third quarter of Week 17, the London matchup was lining up to be Philadelphia-St. Louis.

Nine days later, the game actually was New York-Los Angeles.

Think, too, of the angst of FOX, which could have had a big late-window doubleheader game in 2016—the first New York-Los Angeles football game since 1994, at Los Angeles in the classic old Coliseum, site of Super Bowl I.

Philly-St. Louis would have been a decent candidate to live-stream at 9:30 a.m. on the East Coast, the way the NFL did last year on Yahoo with Bills-Jags. Now it seems unlikely the league would start Rams-Giants at 6:30 a.m. Los Angeles time. I was told the league hasn’t made a decision yet on either the live-streaming aspect of this game or on the start time. I’ve got to think the league won’t schedule it for an ungodly hour on the West Coast.

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Golden Retriever Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

Carson Wentz, who obviously is not only the best prospect in the draft but also the smartest, has a three-year-old Golden Retriever, the greatest breed of all time. The dog’s name is Henley.

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Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Indianapolis is a really good city. First: You can walk everywhere; great central downtown location, with all the hotels and the sports venues (football, pro basketball) and the night life. The other night, 1:20 a.m., felt as busy as the hoppingest places in New York on a Friday night. A couple highlights from this year’s combine experience:

• Ate for three straight nights at my new favorite restaurant there, Bluebeard, an eclectic place with a great beer list and changing menu. On Saturday night I ate the ostrich—a very lean, steak-like meat—and dinner companions Jenny Vrentas of The MMQB and Johnny Mangano, sports director at KXMB in Bismarck, N.D., had the same. (Interesting to meet and get to know Johnny, who was at the combine to cover Carson Wentz. He’s the one who generously got me connected with the North Dakota governor and senator, and so we owed him at least one plate of ostrich for that, right?) Terrific food and environment. Thanks for the suggestion, Angie Six.

• Thanks, too, to Sun King Brewing Company of Indianapolis for hosting our Tweetup on Friday night. We met 100 or so fans inside the brewery just east of downtown, raised some money for Nine13sports, an Indy-based nonprofit that promotes fit living for kids through bike-riding, and a swell time for two hours with people who, year after year, feel more like neighbors than strangers. Thanks, Sun King, for the great evening—and thanks to Angie Six for arranging.

Advice to anyone in the NFL thinking of moving the combine to Los Angeles or anywhere else, just to change things up or pry an extra dollar out of some place: Don’t.

• WHAT I LEARN AT THE COMBINE: For film analyst, Indy event provides more than just a look at the prospects

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Tweets of the Week





Fantastic response to this Tweet from Rachel Nichols: “Oh.”



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Eli Manning and the Giants have suffered three straight losing seasons, and missed the past four playoffs, since winning Super Bowl 46.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think I’ve had enough of the if-we-could-just-close-out-games-we’d-have-been-a-playoff-team palaver from Giants GM Jerry Reese. At the combine he said, “If we close out a couple of games, you know, we can be 10-6. We lost a lot of games close. We had the lead late in the fourth quarter in a few games … A few plays here or there and we could be 10-6 instead of 6-10.” Two points. The Giants closed the season 2-7, allowing 30.7 points per game in those nine games. That’s not a good team. That’s not close to being a good team. And the game is 60 minutes long. It’s cute and interesting (the first 74 times) to hear that the Giants would have been the ’85 Bears if the games were only 57 minutes long, or whatever, in 2015. They don’t give shiny trophies for 57 minutes of football. A long time ago I covered the Giants, and I asked Bill Parcells, then the coach, some question having to do with progress his team was making, and he asked me to see the Giants media guide. I handed him one, and he turned to the year-by-year won-lost records. “Look,” he said, pointing to some past season. “L, W, W, W, L, L, L … Do you see anywhere in there what actually happened in the game? No. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is the W or the L. Nobody years from now is going to look at our record and say, ‘Well, the quarterback was hurt for this game, or you missed whoever for another game.’ Did you win or lose? That’s it.”

• GRONK PARTY SHIP: Football fan writes about ‘the best vacation of my life’

2. I think if the combine were a month long rather than five or six nights long, the NFL would have a far bigger alcohol problem than whatever alcohol problem it has. Man, that place is partyville late at night. It’s like spring break for coaches and scouts.

3. I think the most overrated story angle at the combine (thankfully, only for about 15 minutes) was about the hand size of quarterbacks. Jared Goff practically sneered at the multiple questions from the press and teams while in Indy (“I heard I had small hands yesterday,” he said), and well he should have. Tom Brady’s hand size: 9 3/8 inches. Goff’s: 9. Get that silly stuff away from me.

4. I think the players who looked most like Day 1 impact NFL starters from their performance and body-readiness at the combine, to me, were: Laquon Treadwell—far and away, I thought; his body reminds me of a 95-percent-the-size Calvin Johnson—and then tackle Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss and Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland (who looks very much like a sideline-to-sideline playmaker).

5. I think, regarding players who do not run the 40 or do not do specific drills at the combine: I have never heard in all my years of covering the NFL a coach or GM announcing after the draft, We didn’t pick Player X because he wouldn’t run at the combine. And this year it will have absolutely zero to do with where Laquon Treadwell gets picked.

• A CHANGE OF UNDERWEAR (OLYMPICS): The NFL is considering altering the combine, and Robert Klemko found opinions divided on the topic

6. I think one personnel move last week got lost in the combine shuffle: Billy Devaney, the former Rams GM who made Sam Bradford the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, resigned as a Falcons’ scout to take the job as director of football operations for coach Mike Riley and the Nebraska football team. Interesting move. The Huskers must have made it very much worth Devaney’s while to make the switch. This follows a trend being set by Nick Saban at Alabama, putting football people with strong résumés in important off-field positions.

7. I think Tim Tebow needs one more pro chance to get the football thing out of his system. That’s highly unlikely to ever come again in the NFL. And even though the CFL, with its wide fields and major need for accuracy, doesn’t fit Tebow’s game that well, he ought to try it. Tebow mentor Urban Meyer, who coached the Heisman-winning QB at Florida, suggested on NFL Network that Tebow would consider the CFL under the right circumstances.

8. I think it’s sad that Matt Hasselbeck won’t continue as the backup quarterback to Andrew Luck. Sad and a bit perplexing. What did Hasselbeck do wrong in relief of Luck last year, other than win five games?

9. I think this says quite a bit about who Daniel Jeremiah is as a person. According to a league source, the NFL Network analyst, in the past couple of months, has had one firm offer from an NFL team to head up its personnel department and another the-job-is-yours-if-you-want-it feeler from another team. And he said no to both, preferring to stay with his wife and four children in Temecula, Calif., instead of returning to the demanding and ultimately tenuous job of high-level NFL scouting. “The competitive side of me was really excited about it,” he told me Saturday night at the combine. “The scoreboard is an awesome thing, and you can’t replace that in this job. It was really a tough call for me, and for my family. When I was at the Senior Bowl, I had a Friday off-day, and I never left my hotel room. I was just thinking and talking and pacing. I’ve got one of those tracking devices on my phone, and I literally paced 7 miles that day.” So why not go back to the league? “It came down to this: If you’re happy, and we are, then why look so hard for happier? Our kids are 8, 10, 12 and 14. They are thriving. We love our church. We love their schools; my daughter is getting ready to start high school. Let her dig in, and let all the kids dig in to their schools and their lives. So it’s good. I have no regrets about it.”

10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:

a. Awesome job by The MMQB’s Emily Kaplan on the new, rewarding life Fred Biletnikoff has made for himself, years after the gruesome murder of his daughter.

b. Great story about a short-term New York teacher, who quit the job in despair and wrote a book about it.

c. Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News with a smart story on Rex Ryan and second chances. 

d. Also, Charles Robinson of Yahoo from the combine, with a correct story on how dangerous defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche is, two months before the draft.

e. Enjoyed this story from Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, on catcher Blake Swihart and the fine line he must walk in talking to pitchers in mound visits. As usual, Pete Abraham with a smart baseball story.

f. Thoughts, prayers, hugs to the Ed Werder family. His son-in-law Trey’s medical condition (described so well by Jenny Vrentas here) has taken a bad turn. I hope Trey can have some comfortable days ahead.

g. Missed you in Indianapolis, Chris Mortensen. How’s life going down there in Houston?

h. Steph Curry is the must-watch athlete of his day. I’m now going to have to check the listings every day to see if Golden State is on TV. As you know, I’ve never done that with the NBA.

i. Coffeenerdness: Just as Bluebeard was the dining spot of choice in Indy, Cafe Patachou was the breakfast spot, with a good strong cup of Kenya AA drip coffee and some quality oatmeal. There’s a place that gets better with age. What a mob scene there Saturday morning, at the downtown location right across from the state capitol. Saw Howie Roseman of the Eagles there, and he accused me of making it a mob scene by writing so glowingly about Patachou a couple of years ago. Guilty as charged.

j. Beernerdness: Sun King Cream Ale (Sun King Brewing, Indianapolis) is always my beer of choice in town, and I’m not just saying that because the brewery is so nice to me. (Though I suppose it helps.) Such a smooth golden ale.

k. I loved the cutaway shot to the bear from “The Revenant” in the balcony at the Oscars, clapping. Well, he looked like the bear.

l. And congrats to the Boston Globe, and to everyone who made and starred in “Spotlight,” the Best Picture winner Sunday night, about investigative reporting into the clergy sex scandal in Boston. It’s the first movie about journalism to win Best Picture since 1947, and it was well deserved.

m. Condolences to Andrew Brandt on the death of his father. Larry Brandt, 89, died after heart surgery last week.

* * *

The Adieu Haiku

Here come franchise tags.
And this just in: Von Miller
is resigned to his.

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