San Diego’s head coach feels that players have become prepared for the Combine physically and mentally over time.
INDIANAPOLIS – The days of players showing up to the NFL Scouting Combine with beer bellies and an allergy for physical exertion ended years ago.
Head Coach Norv Turner remembers a time when a few stragglers stood out for the wrong reasons at the annual event. Asked how the Combine has evolved in the more than two decades he’s attended, Turner cited a greater emphasis on preparation by agents and players.
“Everyone in sports several years ago became so health-conscious. Eating right and training right,” Turner said. “The players come in and they’re awfully impressive. Physically they’re in great shape. There are not a lot of guys that come in that are way overweight.
“They’ve gotten where they know how to prepare for it. Mentally they’ve gone through a lot of the interview and film process. It really has an effect.”
MORE THAN PICKS: General Manager A.J. Smith has not downplayed the significance of this draft for the Chargers.
A constant theme has been San Diego’s five picks in the first three rounds. But Smith also believes the draft is deep at positions of need for the Chargers.
“All drafts are good, but there’s a lot of depth in certain areas that we’re thinking about taking a close look at,” Smith said.
COMBINE RECORD: Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea set an NFL Scouting Combine record with 49 repetitions on the bench press at 225 pounds. The previous record was 45.
Paea, who was born in New Zealand but grew up in Tonga, credited rugby.
“You need a lot of energy for rugby. In rugby, we train doing miles instead of 100s (100-yard dashes) in football,” Paea said.
He hopes the strong bench press showing will attest to his ability to keep punching his hands in the fourth quarter when his legs get tired.
D-LINE DEEP: NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock considers the defensive line to be the deepest position in this year’s draft class.
According to Mayock, the last five drafts have averaged about four defensive ends in the first round. He’s rated nine defensive ends with first-round grades.
“The defensive line in general is phenomenal,” Mayock said. “The defensive tackles are going to be fascinating, especially at the top.”
PARENTAL GUIDANCE: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley won a national championship, made 12 sacks and earned All-America honors. Pretty heady stuff.
But Fairley knows better than to get cocky, no matter where he’s picked in the NFL Draft. If he starts to grow an ego, he’s already pinpointed the person that will bring him back to earth.
“My momma, she’s going to stay on me,” Fairley said. “She’s going to keep me right.”