Thursday's combine observations


INDIANAPOLIS -- It's hard to believe this is my 25th combine here.

I started coming to Indianapolis in 1990 when the combine was a media afterthought. This week, a record of more than 800 credentials has been distributed, and who knows how big the list will grow to by the weekend, when Missouri defensive end Michael Sam will discuss being an openly gay player heading into the NFL.

This is a meaty combine for news and notes. The first news broke Wednesday night when the Miami Dolphins fired head trainer Kevin O'Neill and offensive coach Jim Turner in the wake of Ted Wells' report. On Thursday, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, who wasn't previously scheduled to talk at the combine, held a news conference.

From the Dolphins to the salary cap to free agency and to the draft, Thursday was an interesting day at the combine. Here are five things we learned:

1. This draft is loaded:  Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is usually optimistic about drafts. This year, he's off the charts. "I've been doing this for 30 years, and this is the deepest draft that I've ever seen,'' Colbert said. The draft is loaded at wide receiver, guard, tackle, cornerback and several other positions. The key was the 98 underclassmen who declared in January. Not only is it the biggest batch of underclassmen ever, but it might be the best. "You can look across the board,'' Colbert said. "I can't see a position where there isn't more depth than there has been.''

2. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could draft a quarterback: New coach Lovie Smith dropped one of the most interesting lines of the day when he said the Bucs might consider drafting a quarterback at No. 7. The chance that one of the top three quarterbacks -- Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles -- falls below the sixth pick is unlikely, but it was an interesting thought. "I know enough about that draft to know, yeah, there's someone that would be worthy of the seventh pick because everything is on the board right now," Smith said. " Mike Glennon did some good things. But he did some good things as a rookie. To say right now that Mike is the answer and he's our quarterback of the future and we're going to build around him and give him a 20-year contract right now, you're not there.'' Smith is looking to turn around a talented Tampa Bay team, but he needs to see if it has the right quarterback. The way I read it, the Bucs aren't in the market for a QB, but if one they like falls to them, they might take him.

3. The post- Richie Incognito Dolphins are still a mess: Philbin talked, but I wouldn't say he won over the room of reporters. No doubt, he's a nice man. You can see that if a player had a problem, Philbin would do everything in his power to fix it. But it's hard to determine what he knew and what he didn't know about alleged bullying by Incognito and other players. Early in the news conference, Philbin was asked what showed up in the Wells report that he hadn't been aware of. "There were some little details that I didn't know about,'' Philbin said. Later, he was asked what he knew while it was going on. "The majority of things I did not know about when it was going on, no," Philbin said.

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