Quick thoughts as I leave Indianapolis Sunday:
I've been covering the combine since at least 1997, when a few reporters huddled in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza, stripped of furniture so the media would not damage it. I can't remember being more captivated by some of the draft's top stars as this year. Tennessee safety Eric Berry, Florida cornerback Joe Haden and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy were well-spoken, funny, intelligent and passionate about the game.
McCoy delighted the crowd with a story about his favorite moment striking fear in the heart of a quarterback. He said it came in PeeWee football, when he broke through the line and the quarterback couldn't decide if he should pitch or throw to players on either side of him. So McCoy, who said he weighed 238 pounds at age 12, wrapped his massive arms around all three.
Berry talked of his days painting houses in 96-degree heat with his father James, who paid him $5.50 an hour.
''He said I was a hard worker,'' Berry said. ''I kind of made his job easier.'' The elder Berry also worked at Owens-Corning making insulation for houses, but wouldn't let his son accompany him there because he said it was too dangerous.
Berry scoffed at those skipping combine workouts, saying, ''This is the combine, it's not a fashion show.''
Haden, while confident, displayed none of the arrogance of some elite cornerbacks.
But the standout was Myron Rolle, the Florida State safety and Rhodes Scholar who didn't play football last season because he was getting a medical anthropology degree at Oxford.
There seemed no doubt that Rolle is committed to football and he said he hopes to play for at least a decade. But he said he plans to become a neurosurgeon, even though he said it will take about 12 years of medical school and residency and he might be 40-something before that career really takes off.
''I read a book by Ben Carson, a doctor at Johns Hopkins who
inspired me to want to go into neurosurgery, to practice medicine here in the United States and take my expertise to other parts of the world,'' he said. ''In particular low- to middle-income countries and help build their infrastructure
by understanding the people, the culture and the customs on the ground level.
''I definitely want to be a doctor who's
effective using the Westernized medicine that I learn here in the States and applying it to other parts of the world
and being effective and being embraced by the culture. Not being an outsider treating people, really being one of
the population of the culture and the community. That’d be fascinating.''
It was enough to make a draftnik dream of a Browns' secondary that included both Haden and Rolle, who could move himself into the third round with a time between 4.50 to 4.52 in the combine 40-yard dash, analyst Mike Mayock of the NFL Network said.