Scouting Combine under way

College players weigh in on first day, prepare for workouts

INDIANAPOLIS - The 2006 NFL Scouting Combine opened with many unanswered questions today.

Most coaches and personnel men are concerned over the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement. Most teams have two sets of plans, depending on if an agreement between the league and NFL player's union is reached before next week's free agency deadline. The National Football League may be entering unchartered waters after the March 3 free agency deadline.

The other big issue that teams are dealing with this week is whether to designate a franchise or transition player. Today is the deadline for teams to make such designations. The biggest surprise of the day was the Vikings using the transition tag on CB Brian Williams, who entered the 2005 season as the team's nickel back. Williams took over the starting job for veteran CB Fred Smoot after Smoot was injured during the season. Williams didn't relinquish the job. This move seemed to catch a lot of the national media by surprise and many are wondering what this says about Smoot's job security. Or is another move in the works?

The Seattle Seahawks' decision to name G Steve Hutchinson as their transition player, not their franchise player, caught many by surprise. While the move saves the Seahawks a little room under the salary cap, another team can sign him to a lucrative offer sheet. Seattle then could match the offer and retain his services for the length of the deal, or not match it and receive no compensation. A team like Arizona, for example, that has a lot of room under the salary cap and needs major help on its offensive line, could make an offer which Seattle might find it hard to match.

Of course, the big focus of the day was on the college players and their future in the NFL.

While the players don't workout until the weekend, whether they choose to do so is a big issue for NFL teams.

At the 2005 combine, the number of players that worked out was up from the year before. If Thursday's interviews were any indication, there should be a pretty solid number of players that will choose to work out in the RCA Dome.

Because some positions are light on depth or top-end talent, some players could make a big move up the draft boards as former South Carolina WR Troy Williamson did after his performance during the 2005 NFL Combine. His agent, David Canter, sensing a lack of sure-fire talent at the position, had Williamson work out here. His workout was so good that he moved well up draft boards.

Stay tuned to to read about the players that will work out this weekend at the combine.

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