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NFL Draft

NFL Combine Notebook: Tale of the Tape Big on Day One

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INDIANAPOLIS — The big news of the NFL Combine on Thursday morning happened after Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray stepped on a scale and got measured.

Murray, one of the top quarterback prospects in the draft, had one big mark against him in his evaluations.

Or maybe, a small mark. Murray isn’t very tall. Of course, he was listed on the Oklahoma roster at 5-foot-10, but the problem with that is that college lie — all the time.

They lie so often when it comes to the height and weight of their athletes that it became generally accepted that Murray was going to — literally and figuratively — come up short.

But that turned out not to be the case, as the two-sport star measured out at 5 feet, 10 1/10 inches. The fact that Oklahoma was on the money this time means Murray will likely be rolling in the money, and not regretting his decision to forgo his first-round draft status in Major League Baseball, shortly after the draft.

Other teams seemed to have their measuring instruments properly calibrated, as well. All six Penn State players checked out at the same height and close to the same weight as their college program.

But not every team is so honest.

Qadree Ollison, the lone Pitt representative, shrunk from 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-1. West Virginia wide receiver Gary Jennings also lost the same inch. Wide receiver David Sills and tight end Trevon Wesco were both downgraded from 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-3. Mountaineers cornerback David Long had his 5-foot-11 height check out, but weighed in at 221 — 27 pounds heavier than his listed playing weight from last fall.

Those are just the examples from around the region.

It’s not a trend that’s likely to end any time soon, so the first day of the NFL Combine will continue to be one where the attention gets turned to the tape measure and the scale.

PUMPING IRON

The other big event on Thursday was the bench press, as most of the combine’s offensive linemen and running backs grabbed the rack and got to business.

The biggest early total came from a small school. Lineman Iosua Opeta from Weber State, a small FCS school in Utah, put up 39 repetitions. According to NFL.com, that’s the most repetitions from an offensive lineman at the combine since records have been kept.

The combine record in the bench press was set by Oregon State defensive tackle Sitiveni Paea. Paea got picked in the second round, but had to retire after seven seasons due to knee injuries. Washignton defensive tackle Vita Mea put up 41 reps last year before going to Tampa Bay with the No. 12 overall pic and Buffalo Bills third-rounder Harrison Phillips performed 42 repetitions.

The second-best performer wasn’t a lineman at all, as Kansas State running back Alex Barnes did 34 reps.

Of local interest, Ollison put up 19 reps at 250 pounds and Sanders, a Woodland Hills alum, counted 30 bench press repetitions. Both backs will perform running drills on Friday.

NFL Draft

Mic Drop: Adam Zielonka of Washington Times on McFarland, Brooks

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Instead of trading for a proven running back like Leonard Fournette, the Steelers simply drafted a rookie with their 4th round pick. That rookie is Anthony McFarland out of the University of Maryland. To fully explain what McFarland brings to the table, Mike Asti was joined by Adam Zielonka, who is a sports reporter for the Washington Times. Zielonka also touched Antoine Brooks, the other Maryland product drafted by the Steelers.

Click here to also watch Mike and others discuss if the Steelers should have instead traded for Leonard Fournette on Pittsburgh Sports Live.

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2020 NFL Draft

Colbert Explains Why He Wanted Three Rounds Added to 2020 Draft

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Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is offering an explanation as to why he wanted three rounds added to the 2020 NFL Draft.

Speaking with NBC Sport’s Mike Florio on the PFT PM podcast Tuesday, Colbert took the opportunity to clarify his suggestion.

“The reasoning was, part of it was selfish,” Colbert said. “You wanted to have a safety net because we’re dealing with less information, and the more picks you have, maybe you’ll have a little bit of a safety net again.”

With the league’s self-implemented travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, clubs were unable to conduct their normal scouting activities prior to the Draft. This included Pro Days, private workouts and in-person interviews.

Less opportunities to watch and speak with prospects results in a larger margin for error.

Colbert went on to say that it also would have benefited some of the fringe prospects in the Draft that never had the chance to showcase themselves at a Pro Day or other setting.

“The other thing was it would give the marginal player that didn’t get his opportunity to go to a Pro Day and to perform. Maybe there will be more players drafted and then those players will then again have the chance they might not get.”

Now without rookie minicamps, the challenges are mounting for clubs and NFL hopefuls.

“Every year a team might stumble upon a tryout player,” Colbert said. “Maybe if we ever get on the field, we can think of a way to help those because there’s a big group of players that aren’t getting opportunities because of the situation.”

Colbert reminded Florio that the Steelers discovered Devlin “Duck” Hodges as a tryout in camp last year.

It is unclear when teams will be allowed to return to the practice field for their offseason programs, with clubs currently conducting theirs entirely from home.

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2020 NFL Draft

Mic Drop: NFL Draft Recap Show

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It was eat, sleep, draft coverage, repeat for Mike Asti and the Steelers Now crew this past week. And now that the draft is over, Mike Asti evaluates each pick and gives his thoughts on some moves he says the Steelers should have made.

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