Feb. 21, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS - More than 800 media members, a record turnout, arrived at Lucas Oil Stadium Thursday for the beginning of the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, which officially started in the morning with the first round of media interviews.
MSUSpartans.com will be covering the event all weekend with daily reports and frequent Twitter updates @msu_football.
Three Michigan State juniors - running back Le'Veon Bell, defensive end William Gholston and tight end Dion Sims - along with senior cornerback Johnny Adams are participating in this year's NFL Combine. For a complete look at their Spartan careers, check out the NFL Combine preview on msuspartans.com.
JIM MILLER TALKS SPARTAN FOOTBALL: Former Michigan State quarterback and current Spartan Sports Network football analyst Jim Miller probably knows more about this year's crew of Spartans at the NFL Combine than just about anyone in attendance after having seen their entire collegiate careers. At the NFL Combine, Miller is performing his other role, working as an NFL analyst for SiriusXM. Miller, who also played nine seasons in the NFL, gave his take on the four Spartans in attendance in Indianapolis in an interview on Thursday.
"The scouts already love Le'Veon Bell: his balance, his ability to take hits, he can take punishment, he can deliver out punishment," said Miller, listing out the traits that helped Bell rank third in the NCAA Football Subdivision in rushing in 2012, averaging 137.9 yards per game. "I think really the key thing for him is that he needs to show top-end speed. He needs to show that as a big back, he can potentially take it 50, 60 yards to the house. So I do think the 40 time is going to be imperative for him to test well from that standpoint. But as for playing and catching the football out of the backfield, they have no questions about his ability to play football. They think he's a do-it-all back."
Although Sims was injured for much of his Spartan career, Miller sees potential for the tight end to make noise at the next level.
"Dion Sims has a huge upside," remarked Miller. "He's one of the most intriguing tight ends in the draft. He's a sleeper, with the potential to become the first Spartan taken in this draft."
Miller also thinks that the experience Sims gained playing in a pro-style offense at Michigan State will help him in the NFL.
"I think it's going to benefit him," said Miller. "We all know it's about matchups and one-on-ones - and he's a matchup nightmare who reminds me of (San Diego's) Antonio Gates. He's a huge physical tight end who can run and has soft hands. He can almost be like a post-up center down there in the red zone with his scoring ability. I expect Dion to be a hot commodity coming out of the NFL Combine."
On the other side of the ball, cornerback Johnny Adams and defensive end William Gholston were part of a Spartan defensive unit that ranked first in the Big Ten and fourth in the FBS in total defense.
"Johnny Adams is a physical player, who has a passion for football," Miller said. "He simply loves to play the game. Johnny isn't scared to stick his nose in there. Teams are always looking for tough guys to play corner. He could be another sleeper in this draft.
"William Gholston is going to test out of the gym," added Miller. "There are no questions about his physical abilities. Some scouts have questions about his consistency, but coming out of Michigan State's defensive scheme makes William a need because of his abilities both as a pass rusher as well as someone who plays strong against the run."
Miller also talked about the demands on the players at the NFL Combine.
"It's overwhelming and never ends from the moment you wake up to the minute you go to sleep," he said. "It's non-stop football, and it's all done with a purpose, from the medical exams to the interviews to dealing with the media. It's probably one of the craziest job interviews I was ever a part of. It's an eye-opener and lets you know as a player that you're entering a business. These teams are in the business of winning and they're trying to acquire the best investments that they can in these players."
LOOKING BACK: While the focus of the next few days is on the rookie class of 2013, one Spartan from last year's rookie class drew rave reviews from his current head coach.
Keshawn Martin, a fourth-round selection by the Houston Texas last year, appeared in all 16 games and accounted for 1,146 all-purpose yards as a rookie. On Thursday, Texans coach Gary Kubiak shared his thoughts on Martin's first season in the NFL.
"Keshawn Martin probably had the best training camp of any of the rookies we had in 2012," said Kubiak. "He hit the rookie wall late in the season, which everybody does, but his future is very bright. Keshawn is going to be a great returner in this league. He'll contribute even more offensively in the future. We were impressed with his contributions as a rookie.
"Keshawn isn't very big, but he needs to learn how to play big. With a year under his belt, he'll play with a lot of confidence. He did a good job on some reverses, and as a returner, he got better and better as the year went along. This game is all about confidence and because of how much Keshawn played last season, he'll come in and act like a four- or five-year player."
Martin helped the Texans to a 12-4 regular-season record and the AFC South Divisional title. Houston defeated Cincinnati in the wild card round but fell to New England in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs.
MSU STACKING UP WITH THE BEST IN THE BIG TEN: The last two years, Michigan State has had 10 players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, which ranks fourth most in the Big Ten. Wisconsin ranks first with 12, while Penn State and Ohio State each had 11 participants. Under MSU head coach Mark Dantonio, 23 Spartans overall have been invited to the NFL Combine.
WHAT'S NEXT: A second round of media interviews is scheduled on Friday before the official workouts begin on Saturday.
ABOUT THE NFL COMBINE: The NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) is organized and operated by National Football Scouting, Inc. NFL Network and NFL.com will provide more than 60 hours of live coverage from Lucas Oil Stadium beginning Thursday (Feb. 21). More than 600 NFL personnel, including head coaches, general managers, scouts and medical staff representing all 32 teams, will attend the Scouting Combine and evaluate more than 330 of the nation's top college players eligible for the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft through on-field drills, physical testing, psychological exams, as well as formal and informal interviews.
Live coverage of on-field workouts begins Saturday, Feb. 23 at 9 a.m. with the offensive linemen, tight ends and kickers, and continues with the running backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers on Sunday, Feb. 24, linebackers and defensive linemen on Monday, Feb. 25, and defensive backs on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Coverage of workouts begins each day at 9 a.m.