INDIANAPOLIS -- Observed and heard at the NFL combine on Friday:
1. Winston really wants to be No. 1: Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who won the Heisman Trophy following the 2013 season and played in two consecutive national title games, certainly wants to be the No. 1 pick of the draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "It’s important to me because I know how hard I worked, and it would be a privilege to get accepted by the Glazer family at Tampa. I know I’ve got to gain their trust, I’ve got to gain a lot of people’s trust. Whatever happens, this is just my opportunity and I’m going to take advantage of it, because this is what I dream of, I dream of being a Hall of Famer someday." Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith was complimentary of Winston on Thursday, something Winston was also asked about. "It would be just a privilege to play in Tampa, just period, with the Florida State fan base and everything I’ve been involved with in the state of Florida," Winston said. "And by Coach Smith speaking highly of me, that already lets me know I’m a part of their program, I already have a trust factor with him, all I have to do is accept his trust, gain his trust, and help him out."
2. Winton Part II: Winston put both his exuberance and self-confidence on display Friday. Asked about comparisons to Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota -- Winston and Mariota are considered the top two quarterbacks in this year’s draft -- Winston said; "I’m out here to win games and, you know, be the face of someone’s franchise," Winston said. "... One thing about me, I plan on winning the Super Bowl the next year, so it’s going to be Jameis versus Peyton Manning, Jameis versus Tom Brady, I want to be viewed like that. After all this combine stuff you’re not going to hear no more Jameis and Marcus Mariota, but I want my name to stay relevant for the next 15, 20 years of my career."
3. Get no kicks: St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who is also the co-chairman of the league’s competition committee, is not a fan of the idea to change the way extra points are kicked. In the first two full weeks of preseason games last summer, extra points were attempted from the 15-yard line, making it a 33.5-yard attempt. But kickers missed just eight of 141 attempts in the two weeks’ worth of games. So in the Pro Bowl the extra points were attempted from the 15-yard line and the uprights were narrowed from 18.6 feet to 14 feet. Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri missed two extra-point attempts in the game, one wide left, one wide right. Fisher, however, asked Friday at the combine if he supported those changes in regular-season games, said: "Personally, I don’t want to kick a 19-yard field goal to win a game and then miss a 35-yard extra point in Green Bay when its 20 degrees to lose a game, that’s my position."
4. Big men running: The offensive linemen opened up the on-field workouts Friday at this year’s combine. Hobart's Ali Marpet, who measured 6-foot-3 7/8 inches tall and weighed 307, was the only offensive linemen among this year’s invitees to crack 5.0 seconds in his 40-yard dash on the combine’s official clock. Marpet, who started 13 games at left tackle for the Division III school last season, projects as a guard in the NFL who might get a look at center as well. He was clocked at 4.98 seconds. Teams which use a zone-blocking scheme (like the Denver Broncos) will have interest in Marpet, who stood out in Senior Bowl practices and had scouts trying to gather more information before the combine. As a group, the linemen were not as fast as last year’s when five offensive linemen ran the 40-yard dash in under five seconds.
5. Don’t forget defense: Quarterback aside, USC defensive end Leonard Williams, might be the draft’s top-rated prospect, purely on on-field performance and pro potential. "It would mean a lot for me," said Williams, who offered that he tries to model his game after Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. "So I want to go as high as possible, I have high expectations ... it’s the way I’ve been coached for a long time, it would mean a lot for me and my family to go as high as possible. If No. 1’s the spot, I would love to be there." Unlike some of his peers in Indianapolis, Williams did not play organized football until he was in high school because he was too big. "I actually wasn’t developed at all when I got to high school ... I was too big for Pop Warner, there was a weight limit and I was above it, and as a kid that made me really sad because that’s a lot of boys’ dreams to play football, and to not be able to do that it was hard ... the weight limit was 180 and I’ve always been a big kid, and I tried to play Pop Warner when I was middle school and I was like 210."