On Saturday, this year's crop of NFL Combine-invited quarterbacks will head over to Lucas Oil Stadium for on-field drills. There is some value from seeing those guys rip throws up close – especially for coaches who haven't been able to travel to scout college football games on fall weekends.
But for the most part, "their tape tells us everything," Colts general manager Chris Ballard said. "... That's where we're going to get a lot from it."
Before those quarterbacks throw on Saturday, though, they held 20-minute press conferences on Friday morning at the Indiana Convention Center. Hundreds of folks were staked out at Bryce Young's podium for an 8 a.m. press conference, with space at the front the most valuable currency among the nearly 2,000 media members credentialed to cover this year's NFL Combine.
And while those quarterbacks, from Young to Kentucky's Will Levis to Florida's Anthony Richardson to Ohio State's C.J. Stroud answered questions, it wasn't just media members and fans who were watching.
The Colts were, too.
"I'll tell you where you get something from is watching these media sessions," Ballard said. "Watch – how do they handle you? How do they handle the week's process? How do they handle the stress of what's going on? That just gives you a preview of what you're going to see when they get into our league."
So what did we hear from the quarterbacks on Friday?
Kentucky's Will Levis, on his team's 7-6 record in 2022: "I think this past year, season didn't go as well as we would've wanted it to. But I learned a lot from it. Learned how to battle through adversity. Dealt with a lot of things physically and situationally that were tough, but I became a better player, a better quarterback because of it. But I'm going to show what I'm about once I get to the next level and doing my best to show that to these coaches this week as well."
Context: Levis led Kentucky to a 10-3 record with 33 total touchdowns in 2021, but the Wildcats weren't able to repeat that same success in 2022.
Florida's Anthony Richardson, on being called a "project" QB: "I don't even know what that means, 'project label.' But I willing to bring anything and everything that they need from me. I'm going to work hard. I'm going to be dedicated to my craft. And I'm just going to be a leader in that organization. So just grow and continue to grow."
Context: Richardson has the least experience of the four quarterbacks generally considered to be the top prospects in this year's class, having started only 13 games over his three seasons at Florida.
Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, on his lack of collegiate rushing attempts: "I didn't do it a lot in college and I feel like I should have. It's something I do regret. I feel like I could have done it a lot more. But I think when you turn on the film and you really watch what I do, and you really look at film game to game, I have used my athleticism not only just in the Georgia game where I did it a lot. I've done it in every other game. I've had tough third-down runs. I've had tough fourth-down runs. But there were times I didn't run the ball when maybe I should have. I feel like that's something that I learned and that's what football is about. It's about stepping back up to the plate and going back and working hard and fixing those problems. That's something I plan to fix and I'll show them my athleticism. I've done it before on film, but since people don't think I can do it, I'm going to do it again."
Context: Stroud carried 47 times yards with the Buckeyes in 2022, but with Ohio State's season on the line in a College Football Playoff semifinal against Georgia, he rushed a career high 12 times.
Alabama's Bryce Young, on his size: "I've been this size, respectfully, my whole life. I know who I am. I know what I can do. For me, (concerns are) fair. Everyone can speculate and ask when the questions are necessary. I'm going to continue to control what I can control. I'm going to keep working my hardest to improve myself at the position. I'm confident in myself. I know what I can do. I'm just excited to be at the next level."
Context: Young's weigh-in and height measurement will be closely watched on Saturday, as he could wind up one of the smallest quarterbacks to be taken in the first round of an NFL Draft in recent history. But that didn't keep Young from throwing 80 touchdowns and winning the 2021 Heisman Trophy during his time in Tuscaloosa.
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