Questions Linger at NFL Combines

The 2006 NFL Combine opened up with many unanswered questions.

Most of the pro coaches and personnel men were asked about the lack of a collective bargaining agreement and it became clear that is a big issue that the teams are very concerned about because of the uncertainty surrounding it. San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Nolan said his team has two plans for free agency. One, if an agreement is reached and one if it's not completed by next week's free agency deadline. That was a constant response from just about each team that was here today. The league could be entering unchartered waters this time next week.

The other big issue that teams are dealing with this week is whether to designate a franchise or transition player. Thursday was 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 got hurt and 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 other move which caught many off guard was the Seahawks' decision to name G Steve Hutchinson as their transition player, not their franchise player. While the move saves them a little room under the salary cap, another team can sign him to a lucrative offersheet which Seattle then would have a decision to make. 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, who has a lot of room under the salary cap and needs major help on their offensive line, could make an offer which Seattle might find it hard to match.

Of course the big focus was on the college players and their future.

While the players don't workout until the weekend, it's clear whether they choose to do so was a big issue for NFL teams as well as the national media.

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.

Because some positions are light on depth or top-end talent, some players could make a big move up 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 and his workout was so good that he moved well up draft boards.

Who are the players that will workout this weekend that will move up draft boards? Stay tuned.

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