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Off and running in Indy

The NFL has been convening in Indianapolis all week, but we had to wait until today for the first on-field drills of the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

The defensive linemen and linebackers were on display on Day One.

Following is a recap from some of the highlights of the NFL Network's coverage from Lucas Oil Stadium:

WORKOUT WARRIOR: Florida State's Braden Fiske stole the show during defensive tackle drills.

Fiske posted the group's best 40-yard dash (4.78 seconds), the best broad jump (9'9") and the best vertical leap (331/2"). In doing so he became just the fifth player in the last 20 Combines to post a sub-4.8 40 and a vertical of 30"-plus at 290 or more pounds (292).

"He is very comfortably in the second round," NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah assessed. "And he might be headed north."

JUMP FOR JOY: Alabama outside linebacker/edge rusher Dallas Turner's vertical leap of 401/2" was the best by a Crimson Tide linebacker in the last 20 Combines.

Turner surpassed the standard of 39" that had been established in that department by DeMeco Ryans in 2006.

Ryans is currently the head coach of the Houston Texans.

CONTEXT APPLIED: Jeremiah, as has been his habit over the years, reported the Combine averages for the players who finished in the Top 10 in the NFL in sacks at their respective positions in 2023:

For defensive tackles, it was a 1.72 10-yard split in the 40, a 4.91 40, a height of 6-foot-53/8 and a weight of 299 pounds.

For defensive ends/edge rushers, it was a 1.60 split, a 4.62 40, a height of 6-foot-41/4 and a weight of 258 pounds.

And for off-the-ball linebackers, the average Combine 40 for the top 10 tacklers at the position in 2023 was 4.62.

NO PRESSURE: Saints defensive end Cam Jordan gave his Combine perspective to the NFL Network and emphasized in doing so how players with enough on their tape and enough on their resumes should embrace the festivities in Indy for what they are and enjoy them.

"When you've done all the work, all you have to do is have fun," Jordan maintained. "Relax, enjoy the work that you've put in and know that it's enough. This is just a pony show, this is the extras. The 40? Yeah, I'm fast. The drills? Yeah, I'm smooth. The meetings? Yeah, I know football. And then go on and enjoy the draft."

MYSTERY SOLVED: Texas defensive tackle T'Vondre Sweat had declined to step on the scale for evaluators at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., which made his weigh-in in Indianapolis somewhat of an anticipated event.

Sweat ended up checking in at 366 pounds, which tied for the fourth-heaviest player at a Combine since 2003.

The top three are Minnesota offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, 384 in 2022; Ohio State offensive tackle Dawand Jones, 374 in 2023; and Georgia Tech defensive tackle T.J. Barnes, 369 in 2013.

Arkansas guard Shawn Andrews also reported at 366 in 2004.

STILL THE ONE: Longtime scout Mark Gorscak has retired from the Steelers, but not from his identifiable position as the starter for each and every 40 at the Combine.

"Gorscak is retired from scouting," Jeremiah observed. "So he hung up the (stop) watch but not the whistle."

Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar contributed to the running of on-field drills.

NO SHOW: Illinois defensive tackle Jer'Zhan ("Johnny") Newton, a player Jeremiah has mocked to Buffalo with the 28th overall pick in the NFL Draft in April, didn't run 40s or participate in on-field drills.

The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Newton is recovering from surgery to repair a Jones fracture (foot), an injury Newton sustained during the season but played through and waited until season's end to repair.

"Sounds like it's going fine, expected to run at Illinois Pro Day," Rapoport said.

BEAR NECESSITIES: Jeremiah is among those who don't believe the Bears will trade the first overall pick in the draft.

"I'd be surprised if the Bears didn't stick and pick (USC quarterback) Caleb Williams," Jeremiah maintained. "I just don't foresee Justin Fields being the quarterback for the Bears next year."

UP NEXT: Defensive backs and tight ends take the field on Friday in Indy.

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