My first day in Indianapolis was spent driving here and getting in sync with the city. The downtown of Indianapolis is impressive. There is a buzz here between the Indiana Pacers playing, the Big Ten Tournament setting up, and now the Combine. Team scouts are already on location conducting interviews with the first position group (quarterbacks/wide receivers/tight ends).

I only spent a few hours in Downtown Indianapolis tonight before retreating back to my room for the night to prepare for the first day of press conferences tomorrow. Several head coaches and general managers are scheduled to conduct press conferences tomorrow, which I should be covering intently while I’m here.

News is traveling around about the opt-outs

News is breaking regarding three prospects opting out of the combine drills. Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, who is still nursing his Sugar Bowl injury, will not perform until his pro day. LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr just had surgery last month and will not perform here this week. Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal has opted out performing this week as well.

When certain prospects get feedback from the league meaning that they are going very high in the draft, they will opt out of the Combine to settle for the more controlled environment of their school’s pro day. In the case of Neal, that appears to be the case as I noted on Twitter.

That means that I will have to travel to Tuscaloosa for the Alabama Pro Day in March.

The Quarterback buzz

The quarterback buzz here is at full height – between the hand size of Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, refused to get his hands measured at the Senior Bowl in Mobile and the intrigue surrounding Liberty’s Malik Willis, someone who friend of the site Thor Nystrom loves, there is a certain buzz surrounding the potential that these quarterbacks have.

I spoke with former Georgia quarterback DJ Shockley tonight about quarterbacks for a while, asking him about the importance of hand size. He told me that Kenny Pickett “can spin it,” and that hand size is only important to location – preferably within a certain climate setting. “Look at Josh Allen,” he observed. “He played in Wyoming and the Bills knew he could throw the ball in cold weather.”

To summarize – hand size matters, only if the outdoor elements can play a factor. As nice as it would be for Kenny Pickett to end up as a Pittsburgh Steeler, I think it’s safe to bet he won’t be selected by Pittsburgh.

Shockey also played behind Michael Vick in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons, so I asked him if the Malik Willis comparisons to Vick are fair. He didn’t appear to think that the two were the same. “Malik is bigger than Mike,” he told me, “but when Mike came out, he was just more athletic than everyone on the field.”

Perhaps we in the media should pump the brakes a little bit on the Malik Willis comparisons at this point.

Plans for the rest of the week

I am planning on dropping daily notes during my time here in Indianapolis about my interactions with people close to the game. Be sure to check out the site daily for new notes and follow my Twitter account for all of the latest info coming out of Indianapolis.

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By John Vogel

NFL Draft Analyst. Dad.

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