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Nkendiche's blindside; Tyler's tough day

Posted Feb 27, 2016

It wasn't only the on-field action that was heating up over the weekend in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS – On the grand scale of past media circuses at the NFL Combine, well, just understand there didn’t seem to be any possibility for an all-time record crowd at a podium within the interview area, certainly nothing to rival the appearances of Johnny Manziel, who attracted paparazzi-style attention everywhere he went, and Manti Te’o, who had everyone wanting his side of the whole fake girlfriend story.

Mississippi defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche didn’t draw that kind of crowd, but he certainly committed the verbal equivalent of a turnover. Or maybe a better analogy would be a personal foul.

Nkemdiche’s turn at the podium here on Friday was going to be his time to explain that night in Atlanta when he either jumped out of a hotel room window or fell off a ledge, whether he was under the influence of synthetic marijuana or not, and in general what was going on that night in December 2015 that ended with him being hospitalized and then arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession after 12 marijuana blunts were found in the hotel room, according to the police citation.

Certainly, Nkemdiche was tutored for what he was going to face from the media, and certainly it is reasonable to expect he was prepared for the questions he absolutely was going to get from NFL teams during the 15-minute interview sessions that are such a big part of every Combine.

So anyway, Nkemdiche started out OK, with this being his answer to the first question about it: “It was a rash decision by me. Uncharacteristic. That’s not who I am. That’s not what I stand for. That’s not what my family stands for. It was embarrassing for me and my whole family, the Ole Miss family. I tell them that’s not the kind of player they’re getting. They’re getting a straight-forward player. I’m never going to return to that. I’m just moving forward and embracing this moment.”

Maybe he then was lulled into a false sense of security with a line of questioning that veered off the specifics of that night, before taking a hard-right turn back onto Reality Boulevard with, “Were there any other teammates with you that night in Atlanta?”

“Ummmm ... yeah Laremy was there.”

And there’s the flag for the personal foul, because “Laremy” refers to teammate Laremy Tunsil, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive tackle who has a chance – or at least he seemed to have a chance before Nkemdiche took the podium – to be the first overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Now, every time Tunsil is interviewed by a team during the final days of this Combine or on pre-draft visits, he’s going to be asked if it was his weed in that hotel room.

BOYD’S BAD DAY
A group of players broke an impromptu huddle before a round of workouts on Saturday here by chanting, “One, two, three . . . get money.” With a good performance here to supplement a productive college career, there can be money made, but a poor performance here can cost a player money.

Pitt wide receiver Tyler Boyd would seem to fall into the latter category after his day on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf. He measured 6-foot-1, 197 pounds, which was OK, but then came the 40-yard dash where Boyd’s time of 4.58 placed him 24th of the 37 wide receivers participating in that drill. And from there it didn’t get much better.

Boyd posted a 4.35 seconds in the short shuttle to place 24th out of 27; his vertical jump of 34-inches was 22nd out of 41 receivers; his 9-foot, 11-inches in the broad jump was 25th out of 40; and his 11 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press was 29th out of 36. Only in the three-cone drill, where Boyd’s 6.9 seconds was 10th, did he post a respectable number when compared to the other receivers participating at the Combine.

A CLASS WITH CLASS
There is no truth to the rumor that the Ohio State fight song was played over the sound system inside Lucas Oil Field at the start of on-field drills yesterday, but if it had been there would have been a bunch of guys on the field who knew all the words.

Ohio State had 14 players invited to the Combine, which is the most of any program in 2016 and the most by any program since 15 Buckeyes players were invited in 2004. Notre Dame was behind Ohio State with 10 players invited, while UCLA and Alabama were next with nine players apiece.

“They have a great class,” said General Manager Kevin Colbert. “Coach (Urban) Meyer put together a great recruiting class at Ohio State, much like he did some years ago with the University of Florida. That was a special class when the Pounceys and the Tebows of the world were all together, so I think that just speaks volumes as to his ability to put together a great team. And (Ohio State) won a national championship (in 2014), so it’s not surprising that they have a lot of draft prospects this year.”

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