On the first day of the Combine, the press conferences with some of the running backs confirmed a fact that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. With Edgerrin James and James Mungro expected to be unrestricted free agents on March 3rd, and Dominic Rhodes' future clouded by a $1.45 million roster bonus that could put him amongst the unrestricted free agents as well, the Colts are evaluating running back talent.
Out of the group of running backs who hit the podium on Wednesday, Wisconsin's Brian Calhoun, Arizona's Mike Bell and UCLA's Maurice Drew were all impressive, but for different reasons. And all of them referenced the Colts as they responded to questions.
Calhoun exuded great confidence in a manner that didn't even hint at cockiness. He's going to do very well in his interviews with his presence. He described himself as a back who's ready to start in the NFL. When asked if he could be ready to step in and play right away for a team that could need someone to do that, such as the Colts, he said that he thought he was ready for that challenge. Because he is well-rounded, possessing good running, receiving and blocking skills, he believes a system like the Colts would benefit him and, in return, the team as well.
Mike Bell spoke about his "ability to do anything as a back" and while confident, displayed a personal warmth that is going to serve him well in his meetings and interviews. When asked about his strengths, he was quick to put at the forefront that he is a "great team player" to the point where his attitude helps pick up others on the team. He believes doing a full workout at the Combine is a must since he's heard some concern that he can't get outside. Bell is anxious to dispel that notion by showing off his speed on Saturday. He told ColtPower that he was scheduled to meet with the Colts later on Thursday.
Maurice Drew out of UCLA exuded a calmer, quieter communications style, but overall looked at ease while fielding questions. Drew, who is only 5'6 1/2 and 207 pounds, believes his additional talent returning punts will help his stock at the Combine. And he also thinks his short-yardage talent will be a plus. Drew mentioned that a number of teams have brought that up during their talks with him, and that there were seven that he thought were showing the highest interest so far. He mentioned the Colts along with the Jaguars, Raiders, Seahawks, Steelers, Browns, and Bengals.
Another back was asked if he thought he could step right into a starter's role with the Colts, Washington State RB Jerome Harrison told us that the one thing he would want to work on to assure that he was ready for that challenge was his blocking technique. He was obviously familiar with the importance that Edgerrin James has played in that position through last season. Harrison is a back who shows good vision and has a knack for making people miss on the field.