SI:AM | It’s officially Draft Season

The NFL offseason is essentially over.

Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. Ready for the NFL to start dominating the news cycle again?

On today’s SI:AM:

🏃‍♂️ What to look for at the NFL combine

🤼‍♂️ UFC’s Next Big Thing

💰 Why Daniel Jones is worth his money

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What you need to know about the NFL combine

It’s been a relaxing three weeks, but the NFL offseason is essentially over. Draft season begins in earnest with this week’s scouting combine in Indianapolis, culminating in the draft that begins April 27 in Kansas City.

Practice began yesterday with linebackers and linebackers taking the field. The defensive backs will work today, the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends tomorrow and the running backs and offensive linemen on Sunday. Here are some of the biggest stories to follow.

The arrest of Jaylen Carter

Carter, for all the wrong reasons, has become the talk of the combination. Before this week, there was talk that the The Georgia defensive tackle could be the No. 1 pick next month. His ability to wreak havoc inside is undeniable, but there are concerns about his personality and decision-making off the field. Team officials told Albert Breer they had questions about Carter’s willingness to work outside of game day. Afterward, An arrest warrant has been issued for Carter in connection with a January car crash that killed teammate Devin Wheelock and Georgia football staffer Chandler LeCroy.

Carter faces charges relating to racing and reckless driving from the fatal crash, which police said occurred after Carter and LeCroy were driving “in a manner consistent with racing.” Carter too she told police conflicting stories during their investigation, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Carter traveled to Athens on Wednesday night, and he was detained and released after posting the guarantee. He then returned to Indianapolis for the combine.

The generals

If Carter doesn’t get picked first next month, he probably will Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. While Young won’t throw the combine, his time in Indianapolis will answer another important question: How old is he?

Young was 6-foot-1 and 194 pounds at Alabama. Quarterbacks of this size are rarely able to reach the top of the draft. Panthers coach Frank Reich said Young’s height “is concerning,” but also pointed out that players like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have been successful NFL quarterbacks despite their below-average size.

Young, however, is plagued by dual concerns about his height and weight. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay told Albert Breer earlier this week heard that Young was actually 5’10½”while his Jonathan Jones CBS Sports reported yesterday that the combine people believed Young it would weigh “almost” but maybe 200 kg. By comparison, Wilson is listed at 215 pounds, Kyler Murray at 207 and Brees at 209 pounds.

The hesitation to build Young could open the door for another quarterback to surpass him in the lineup. Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis— considered to be the top QB prospects after Young — are all scheduled to throw in Indy tomorrow. Richardson has moved up in draft picks thanks to his strong arm and athleticism (he rushed for 654 yards on 103 carries last season), but he only started for one season in college.

The sprinter’s speed

Are 40-yard dash times an indicator of who will be a quality NFL player? No way. Is it fun to watch kids run really fast and guess what it means for their football dreams? You make a bet.

After yesterday’s first day of practice, there are already 40 remarkable times to talk about. Pitt defensive tackle Kalia Kansi ran a 4.67, breaking the record for fastest 40 by a defensive tackle held by former Panther Aaron Donald (4.68 in 2014). Kancey, who was 6’1″, 281 pounds, also came close to breaking the record for fastest 40 by a player over 280 pounds. Defensive end Mario Williams (6’7″, 295 pounds) ran 4, 66 in ’06.

He might be the fastest player in the mix Texas A&M running back Devon Achane. Besides playing football for the Aggies, Achain was an All-American selected sprinter. He has the third-best time in school history in the indoor 60m (6.63 seconds), the fourth-best in the outdoor 200 (20.20) and the ninth-best in the outdoor 100 (10.14). If you’re having trouble visualizing what that kind of speed looks like, watch him zoom past Alabama on this 96-yard return from 2021 or hit the hole in this run against Arkansas. Acane said in December that he hopes to run a “4.2 something” at the combine.

The best of Sports Illustrated

  • Today’s daily cover story, by Jon Wertheim, is a profile of former college wrestling legend Bo Nickal, who will make his UFC debut tomorrow night in Las Vegas.
  • Albert Breer’s notes from the combine include a free-agency decision facing the Chiefs, Calvin Ridley’s NFL future and a Georgia linebacker who may have boosted his draft stock in yesterday’s practice.
  • Gilberto Manzano explains why it’s not ridiculous that Daniel Jones could be worth $45 million a season.
  • Bryan Danielson is probably the only professional wrestler who will compare what he does to a Cormac McCarthy novel, as he did in this interview with Justin Barrasso.
  • Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis fell short of tying Pete Maravich’s NCAA men’s record.
  • A brawl broke out during the OVC tournament game between SIU-Edwardsville and UT-Martin.

The top five…

… things I saw last night:

5. Stealing Jordan Poole vs. Russell Westbrook.

4. Westbrook’s alley to Kawhi Leonard.

3. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving combined for 82 points in the Mavericks’ 133–126 victory over the Sixers.

2. Vladimir Tarasenko’s goal in “Forsberg”.

1. Minnesota’s miraculous comeback against Rutgers, capped by Jamison Battle’s game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Golden Gophers, who had lost 12 in a row, trailed by 10 with just over a minute to play.


After briefly going by another name, the NFL decided on this day in 1950 to stick with the name we know today. What was the short-lived other name?

  • American Football League
  • National-American Football League
  • National League of Football
  • National Football Federation

Yesterday’s SIQ: On March 2, 1993, Mario Lemieux underwent his final radiation treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma in Pittsburgh, then flew to Philadelphia for the Penguins’ game against the Flyers. What did Lemieux do in the game?

  • To serve as an assistant coach
  • Play a festive shift
  • Score a goal and assist another
  • He scored a hat trick

Answer: Score a goal and assist another. Lemieux announced on January 12, 1993 that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As radiation treatments sapped his energy, Lemieux was not often seen around the Penguins facility. But before undergoing his final treatment on the morning of March 2, he considered playing in the Pens game later that night in Philadelphia.

Lemieux was scheduled to take a commercial flight from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, but the plane was delayed coming in from Chicago. As the clock ticked down, Lemieux was getting nervous about not making it in time, so he decided to charter his own plane. He arrived in Philly around 4pm and made his way to the arena. None of his teammates knew he was going to play.

“We had no idea he was showing up,” teammate Kevin Stevens said The Athlete in 2018. “I’ll never forget looking out of the building. I had already arrived there. I look up, and Mario is walking into the building alone, his bag over his shoulder. First time carrying his own gear since peewees, I bet.”

Even Flyers fans cheered for Lemieux, but his participation was not ceremonial. Playing in his first game since Jan. 5, he scored his 40th goal of the season in the second period and then not two minutes later assisted on a Stevens goal.

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