NFL scouting combine: A real sense of family emerges

Times Staff Writer

You've heard of Koy Detmer and Eli Manning? Meet Texas El Paso's Jordan Palmer, the newest member of the kid-brother quarterback club.

Palmer's older brother, Carson, is the Pro Bowl passer for the Cincinnati Bengals who won the Heisman Trophy at USC. The younger Palmer, in two seasons as UTEP's quarterback, set school career records for touchdown passes, attempts, completions and passing yards. He even got one Heisman vote -- from his big brother, of course.

"He had sent me a text message saying he was giving me his vote for Heisman and I didn't think anything of it," he said Friday. "I didn't think about it until people were raising a fuss about it. It's the way he is. We are brothers first and quarterbacks second. We are best friends and the football thing is secondary."

Jordan is 6 feet 6, like his brother, and has close-cropped hair that's slightly lighter than Carson's.

"I don't think there is a huge difference," Jordan said, "besides that he's won a bunch of awards, he's really famous and he's really rich."

Other than that, they're practically identical.

Baylor boomer

For the most part, the workouts don't start until today. But punters, kickers and long snappers got to showcase their skills Friday for scouts.

Baylor's Daniel Sepulveda was the best punter of the day, averaging 47 yards and an impressive hang time of 4.58 seconds. He's a lefty and has the unusual habit of holding his hand on top of the ball on his short and directional punts. That allows him to get more spin on his kicks. Maryland's Adam Podlesh had the second-best performance.

The kickers got four attempts each from 25, 30, 35 and 40 yards. Arizona's Nick Folk was the best, making 13 of 16. UCLA's Justin Medlock and Colorado's Mason Crosby finished tied for second with 10 successful kicks.

Flipping out

Cleveland and Tampa Bay both finished 4-12 last season and had the same strength of schedule, so their draft position was decided Friday morning by a coin flip. The Browns won, so they will pick third, followed by the Buccaneers. The teams will alternate positions in subsequent rounds.

Stop and watch

Arkansas cornerback Chris Houston could be this weekend's workout warrior, the player whose performance instantly improves his stock. That's what draft experts Mike Mayock of the NFL Network and John Murphy of Yahoo Sports think, at least.

Murphy believes Houston could rise from a second-rounder to a top-20 pick, particularly if he runs, jumps and lifts as well as he has in recent weeks. Houston has run a sub-4.4 40, has a vertical leap of at least 40 inches, and can bench press 225 pounds in the range of 25 to 30 times.

Mayock also likes the workout potential of Florida State outside linebacker Lawrence Timmons.

Cooling the jets

USC's Dwayne Jarrett has joined the ranks of players who have decided not to run this weekend, instead postponing his workout until his March 28 pro day. Others who won't work out are quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell of Louisiana State and Brady Quinn of Notre Dame, Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson and Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson.

Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith, the Heisman winner, plans to throw but won't run. The fact he weighs 225 pounds, about 15 more than his ideal playing weight, might have something to do with that.

Gi-normous JaMarcus

Folks continue to marvel at the size of Russell, who plays quarterback but is built more like a defensive end. He's 6-5 and 265 pounds -- and looks even bigger than that.

"I'd say that I'm a lot bigger than most quarterbacks," he said. "And at times I can get out of most trouble that smaller guys can't."

At one point during Russell's news conference, a reporter asked him how big he was at 6. Without missing a beat, Russell pointed to a medium-sized reporter and said: "About his size." Everyone laughed. We think he was joking.


There are 330 players at the combine and even more members of the media. What was once a relatively lightly covered event has grown to conference-championship proportions. The NFL printed 385 combine media credentials and -- except for a couple dozen no-shows -- all have been distributed.

Heading down?

Speculation is rampant that Quinn's draft stock is dropping, particularly in light of Notre Dame's shaky performance in the Sugar Bowl loss to LSU. He said he's unconcerned.

"No offense to anyone," he told reporters, "but I try to stay out of that.... But for people who say that, it's kind of hard to be slipping when we haven't done anything yet."

He joked that his critics must be spying on him.

"Did someone see me miss a rep in the weight room?"


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