Friday's combine observations


INDIANAPOLIS -- Day 2 of the NFL combine was chock full of interviews, as QBs Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles were skewered about their potential as first-round selections, while skilled positions prospects, coaches, general managers also took to the podium.

But the real action happened on the labor side, as the NFLPA held its annual agents meeting.

On the agenda was agents' concerns about how tough it is to get high-priced deals done in a post-new-CBA period in which $6 million contracts are increasingly hard to obtain. They also voiced their displeasure about the later start to free agency, which now kicks off on March 11.

From the union's side, the NFLPA offered optimism that the cap will increase to close to $130 million, much higher than the expected $126.6 million cap. That's a big jump from last year's $123 million cap.

Enough with the numbers talk, here are the five things we learned on Friday:

1. The top quarterback is competing: Give Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles credit for deciding to throw and do all of the drills Sunday at the combine. Bortles has been the fastest-rising signal-caller in the draft and could now go in the top five. Coming out of high school, he had only four college scholarship offers -- two of them were to play tight end. At UCF, he was coached by George O'Leary, which creates another interesting scenario: O'Leary is close with Bill O'Brien, head coach of the Houston Texans, who hold the No. 1 overall pick. O'Brien spent a lot of years with Bill Belichick, who often gathers information on prospects from college colleagues who previously mentored those players. A positive scouting report could influence O'Brien to push Bortles up against Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater. "It's been a great journey," Bortles said of his rise from an almost unwanted player coming out of high school to one of the hottest rising quarterbacks in the draft. "The guys that were there before myself and the teammates that I played with these past couple of seasons have done a great job of laying a foundation at UCF. Coach O'Leary's done a phenomenal job there in getting that program ready, so going 12-1 and winning a BCS game was huge." Next, we'll see if he can win over Houston, Jacksonville or Cleveland to land in the top four picks of the draft.

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