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NFL Combine Under Way: All Five Former Tide Players Have Landed

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We talked a little on Monday about the five former Tide players that are taking part in this year's NFL Combine, and with the event now finally under way we've got some updates on what's happening in Indianapolis with our guys.  No workouts have taken place as of yet; The way the combine is set up, players are assigned to "groups," and those groups report and remain together for a four day stretch that looks like this:

Combine Schedule (for each player)

Day 1: Travel, Registration, Pre-exam & X-ray, Orientation, Interviews
Day 2: Measurements, Exams, Media, Psych Tests, Interviews
Day 3: NFLPA Meeting, Psych Tests, Interviews
Day 4: Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure

There are 11 groups (roughly broken down by position); The first groups of players arrived Wednesday and will leave Saturday. The last groups will arrive Saturday and leave Tuesday, March 1. Since James Carpenter reported Wednesday with the rest of the offensive linemen, we'll start with him.

As I mentioned in the fanshot yesterday, Carpenter is being looked at as a "sleeper" in this year's draft thanks to showing some versatility during Senior Bowl practices while working at both tackle spots.  Carpenter says he's even more versatile than that:

"I think I can play left tackle, left guard, right tackle, or right guard. I don’t think it’s a problem. I like guard a lot. There’s less space, and you just use your power more."

Scouts are already saying good things about him based off his film. From Seahawks Insider:

"This is a kid that came in as a junior college prospect and immediately and took over for Andre Smith at left tackle, a No. 6 overall pick, and they didn’t have any problem with him," said Rob Rang, senior draft analyst for "And then when Alabama this season switched from a run-heavy offense that helped Mark Ingram get the Heisman trophy two years ago, to more of a pass-heavy approach this year, he was able to acclimate to that style and still be very successful.

"He played as well as some of the more highly touted tackles there," Rang said about Carpenter’s performance at the Senior Bowl. "He showed a little bit better depth at his kick slide and his use of hands as pass blocker than he’s generally been credited for.

"Alabama in the past had always been traditionally more of a strong running team, and so to see him be as productive as he was as a pass blocker, I thought helped his stock, and I think turned some heads among the scouts as well."

"I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him go in third round. If he goes in the fourth, I think it’s early in the fourth. And the reason I think he could slip to the fourth is because there’s so many good tackles in this year’s class, and in the NFL he’s not a true left tackle."

Further: senior analyst Gil Brandt, universally recognized in NFL circles as a draft expert, believes Carpenter will be a late second-round selection.

"He can improve upon that here with a good workout," Brandt said. "A lot of people liked him at the Senior Bowl. He's one of those guys you end up drafting in the second or third round and they end up playing for 12 years."

Carpenter pushed the benefits of a playing in a pro-style offense, zone blocking, and learning from former Alabama assistant Joe Pendry.

Workouts will begin for the offensive linemen tomorrow, so if Carpenter is going to up his draft stock and show the versatility he's claiming, it all begins there.

Moving on, Greg McElroy showed up with a cast on his throwing hand, not something he really needed since his football IQ and media savvy aren't what the scouts are questioning.  Worse, he doesn't expect to throw at Alabama's pro-day either:

"It's probably going to take extensive rehab," McElroy said. "There's probably going to be some tightness in the wrist. So much about throwing is fluidity and relative motion and torque and things like that. It's going to take some time to get back. it's just going to take some repetitions next week and the week after that to get back to where I want to be. As of now, the pro day is scheduled for March 9, but I don't anticipate throwing. We'll see where I'm at as the days get a little bit closer."

There is always the possibility of scheduling another workout for scouts at a later date, but for a kid that most expect to go in the very late rounds and be a career backup, not being able to throw is about the worst possible situation for McElroy right now.

The other big news items from today are that Julio Jones is "a great guy" and has signed a deal with Under Armour:

Jones also will appear in an advertising and in-store campaign this year. He will be featured in a new TV spot and digital campaign highlighting the new E39 shirt that will showcase Julio's dedication to training as he prepares for the NFL. The new spot, which was shot on-location at Ford Field in Detroit, will debut on the NFL Network during the NFL Scouting Combine.

"Julio Jones has distinguished himself as an outstanding athlete, as well as a proven leader and champion," Matt Mirchin, Under Armour's senior vice president of sports marketing, said in a news release. "As a game-breaker and difference-maker on the field, Jones is an ideal athlete to help us launch the E39 shirt and to continue to showcase Under Armour innovation."

Yes, yes, I know that Under Armour supplies Auburn and Cam Newton has also signed a deal with them but...well, whatever, get money get paid, Julio.  Unfortunately, Julio and Cam have something else in common; both were no shows at the media interviews today, so no soundbites from him as of yet.

Finally, Mark Ingram is out to erase any doubts about his knee after injuries forced him to sit the first two games of last season:

"It feels great, or else I wouldn’t be out here about to run and work out," Ingram said, adding that he has trained hard on the knee after gaining 875 yards last season, one year after he won the Heisman Trophy.

"The knee injury, I think, is a question mark in everybody’s head," he said. "What I want to do out here is erase that question mark."

Ingram, who’s 5-foot-9, has shed about 10 pounds — he said he weighed in at 215 this week — and believes he’s "more explosive" at a lighter weight.

Workouts begin tomorrow for the first group, so tune into the NFL Network for the NFL Scouting Combine Feb 24 - Mar 1.