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10 things learned at the NFL Scouting Combine – Day 2

Offensive prospects tell their stories; some have Packers connections

Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor
Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor

INDIANAPOLIS – The offensive prospects continued to meet with the media on Wednesday in Indy.

Here are 10 things learned at the NFL Scouting Combine through the second day.

1. Jonathan Taylor wants to show he's an every-down back, and clear up a misconception about Wisconsin offensive linemen.

Taylor, one of the nation's leading rushers the past two years, plans to put his third-down pass-catching skills on display for scouts this week. He added that dimension to his game this past season with 26 pass receptions for 252 yards and five TDs after being almost no factor in the Badgers' passing game previously.

More important to Taylor, he continued to emphasize he did not achieve his success "alone," and the respect for his offensive linemen goes beyond their size and strength. He mentioned neither when talking about Wisconsin's All-America center Tyler Biadasz, who is Taylor's combine roommate.

"He's a smart guy," Taylor said. "When guys think about the Wisconsin offensive line, they're always saying these big guys are moving people out of the way, but no one talks about how smart they are.

"Tyler sees the big picture, when he goes up to that line of scrimmage, and he looks at the safeties, he looks at the shell, he looks at the front, he's a smart guy, and that's why he's able to be so effective."

2. Biadasz explained the key to Taylor's game, too.

"His vision," he said. "That's something else, man.

"If his read is off the butt of the tight end, he just needs a sliver to cut it back and he's gone. You give him a sliver he's going to hit it 100 miles an hour. Through a game, he doesn't get beat up, he gets faster."

3. Jack Driscoll likes to model his game after David Bakhtiari, but not his hair.

The Auburn offensive tackle quickly mentioned four-time All-Pro David Bakhtiari as the NFL player he most likes to watch, but he's not about to grow out his hair to pay homage.

"No, that's one thing, I'm a clean-cut, short-hair guy," Driscoll said. "So not anytime soon."

Driscoll came to Auburn as a transfer from UMass, where he arrived as a 240-pound freshman having already put on 35 pounds over his final two years of high school. Then he got to 295 in college with the help of an old classic.

"A lot of PB&J," said Driscoll, explaining that he'd eat multiple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches between meals when going to class, and then a couple more at night before bed each day. "I couldn't smell it anymore without getting sick."

4. Multiple Michigan offensive linemen appreciated their battles with Packers LB Rashan Gary earlier in their careers.

The Wolverines have four offensive linemen at the combine, and three of them mentioned going head-to-head at times in practice with Rashan Gary , the Packers' first-round pick a year ago.

"I took my lumps against him in practice, but he got me to this point in my career, and I'm thankful for how hard he pushed me," said tackle Jon Runyan, son of his namesake who enjoyed a long career in the NFL with Philadelphia. "I've never really told him that, but I would always go into practice trying to beat him."

Guard Ben Bredesen, the 2015 Wisconsin state player of the year out of Hartland Arrowhead, played tackle as a freshman and squared off against Gary a lot in his first fall camp.

"It was a good time," he said. "We got the better of each other depending on the day. It seemed like one of us was going to win the day, there weren't a whole lot of times where we would split it. He was a great player and a great teammate."

Guard Mike Onwenu only went against Gary on occasion when the versatile pass rusher would slide inside, but when the 350-plus-pound offensive lineman battled the future first-round pick, everyone was paying attention.

"It was a good battle," Onwenu said. "It was always one of those hyped-up moments. It brought hype to the whole practice and everybody wanted to see the biggest and strongest of each side."

5. Randy Moss's infamous playoff TD celebration at Lambeau Field apparently was payback.

The Hall of Fame receiver's son Thaddeus, a tight end from LSU, is one of the top prospects at his position. The younger Moss was asked about his dad's fake mooning of the Lambeau crowd after a touchdown in the 2004 NFC Wild Card game.

"There's a story behind why he did it nobody ever understood at the time," said Thaddeus, who was 5 years old then. "He said on the bus ride through Green Bay their fans would always moon them, so he thought, 'OK, if I score I'm getting them back.'

"It blew up and went the wrong way."

The younger Moss told the media he's not doing any testing at the combine due to the length of LSU's national championship season, and he'll work out for scouts at the Tigers' pro day on April 3.

As for whether he would follow in his father's footsteps at receiver, the 6-2, 250-pound Moss said it was never in the cards. He'd been playing tight end and middle linebacker since second grade.

"I was too big to play receiver," he said.

6. Another LSU product is trying to take the step his older brothers couldn't.

Receiver Justin Jefferson's two older brothers, Jordan (a QB) and Rickey (a DB), both came out of LSU as well but never made it in the NFL as undrafted players.

Justin is one of the top receivers in a deep class at the position and could be a first-round pick.

"We all had the dream of being a big-time NFL player," Jefferson said. "They're inspiration for me."

7. Alabama's Jerry Jeudy watches film of Packers WR Davante Adams.

In rattling off about a half-dozen NFL stars he likes to study on film, Jeudy mentioned Davante Adams in his favorite group of "very crafty route runners who know how to get open."

Jeudy also takes the Crimson Tide legacy seriously.

Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, and Calvin Ridley are all former first-round picks at receiver from Alabama thriving in the NFL and Jeudy, being touted as possibly the first receiver to be picked in this draft, plans on being the next one.

"Every receiver who came through Alabama has had a level of success in the league," Jeudy said. "I try to hold myself to that standard."

8. Two WR prospects known for yards after the catch get the job done differently.

Two of the best YAC receivers in this draft are Arizona State's Brandon Aiyuk and Penn State's KJ Hamler, but they don't get those yards after catch the same way.

Aiyuk, who emerged as a star after ASU teammate N'Keal Harry was drafted in the first round last year, uses his powerful 6-foot, 205-pound frame to break tackles like the running back he was in his pre-high school days.

"When I catch the football, I transition back to being the running back I used to be," Aiyuk said.

Meanwhile Hamler, a 5-9, 178-pound jitterbug, darts and dodges his way to extra yards and idolizes a speedy receiver of similar stature, DeSean Jackson. But he also knows there were too many times he was looking to run before he made the catch.

"I dropped eight balls last year," Hamler said. "I'm not proud of it."

9. Jalen Reagor says there's more to his game than what's on film.

The 5-11, 206-pound receiver from TCU lined up almost exclusively on the right side in the Horned Frogs' offense, but he emphasized that's not a limitation, just what his coaches wanted.

"I can play wherever you need me," the affable speedster said. "I'm a big play waiting to happen. I can make something happen in situations you might not think I can. I think I can make an immediate impact in the NFL."

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said he believes this draft does include early-impact receivers, and Reagor said he had a formal interview with the Packers that went well.

The son of former NFL defensive lineman Montae Reagor, Jalen caught his first collegiate touchdown pass as a freshman in 2017 on a 38-yard Hail Mary heading into halftime. He has run a 40-yard dash in the low 4.3s before and is aiming for a high 4.2 time when he runs the 40 later this week.

10. Laviska Shenault Jr.'s athletic career took a turn early in high school because he wanted to honor his father.

Shenault, a top receiver from Colorado, wears dreadlocks in memory of his father, Laviska Sr., who was killed in a pedestrian-auto accident back in 2009.

A handful of years later, as a ninth grader, Shenault was on the B team in football, and basketball was his top sport. But the basketball coach had a rule regarding no long hair, so Shenault quit and put more energy into football.

"I was not going to cut my hair to play a sport," he said, adding his dad would be proud to see where he is today. "He'd say just remain tough and keep rising."

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