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NFL Combine: Day 3 takeaways and updates

By Dane Brugler, The Sports Xchange   |   Feb. 27, 2016 at 10:12 AM

NFL Combine: Day 3 takeaways and updates

INDIANAPOLIS -- Offensive line and running back prospects made their way to the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday, but there was still plenty of action in the interview room as defensive linemen and linebackers were made available.

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Here are five observations from Day three of the combine:

1. Myles Jack feels 100 percent healthy and ready to get back on the field.

The medical process at the Combine is the most important step for several prospects this week in Indianapolis, including UCLA linebacker Myles Jack. He spent close to seven hours with the medical staffs Friday morning and was ready for all the poking and prodding.

"They were pretty blunt as far as moving my knee, twisting it," Jack said. "But everything was fine. It's pretty much what I expected. My agent told me they were going to be really aggressive with it and just trying to kind of make it hurt. But it was fine."

The rehab from his right knee injury (anterior meniscus tear) in September is what teams are most interested in, but they also are interested in what his best NFL position will be. The short answer: He can play anywhere.

"I've heard safety, MIKE, SAM, WILL, inside backer. I've heard it all in the back seven," Jack said. "I see myself as a football player. I want the teams to decide for themselves. I feel like I can play any position."

But what is his preference?

"I like being off the ball as a MIKE, WILL, SAM," Jack answered. "I think I could play strong safety as kind of a Kam Chancellor type of role. I feel like I could get the job done there."

Jack has been training at the Fischer Sports Institute and working with Thurmond Moore, focusing on his pass-rush skills. He also mentioned both Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks as role models that he has modeled his game after.

"When I first stepped on campus I wanted to be just like them," Jack said of his former linebacker teammates. "When Anthony left, it was Eric. I just kind of followed Eric, listened to everything he said, watched how serious he took the game and it paid off."

Barr was the ninth overall pick in 2014 and Kendricks was drafted 45th in 2015 (both by the Vikings). Jack will likely be drafted earlier than both in April.

2. Still too early to put a timetable on Jaylon Smith's recovery.

The combine experience hasn't quite been what Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith planned a few months ago, following his January knee injury in the bowl game. He just started walking a week ago and it's too early to nail down when he will be football-ready.

"The past two days have been interesting," Smith said. "It's just a healing game, that's all. It's a process. I'll be back 100 percent, we just don't know when."

Unlike Jack's exams, the doctors were gentler with Smith's reconstructed knee as he is only seven weeks out from surgery, which repaired both the ACL and LCL in his right knee. But he plans to be re-checked in April where scouts and teams will get a better idea of his recovery process.

Despite multiple reports that his injuries could keep him sidelined for 2016, Smith said the nerve "isn't stretched at all" and downplayed the long-term issues.

"I feel great, there's no soreness in the knee," Smith said. "I've been off pain pills for almost a month."

After he started all 39 games in his Notre Dame career, the injury was an unlucky break for Smith, who was considered a possible top-five selection. Nonetheless, he is moving forward with a positive mentality and still has high hopes for draft day, calling it a "long-term decision" for the team that drafts him.

"I'm hoping to go top-10," Smith said. "I view myself as the best player in the draft, you know? It's just a matter of waiting and enjoying the process and controlling what I can control. I'm having a blast with all the fellas out here."

3. Paxton Lynch's medical exams red-flagged a few issues from past injuries.

Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Christian Hackenberg and most of the other quarterbacks interviewed with the media on Thursday, but Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch wasn't able to make it until Friday due to his lengthy stay with the medical staff.

While his injuries are not considered serious, Lynch had an issue with his left knee and right knee and with his AC joint, all from past injuries. He suffered a small fracture in his clavicle that healed, but his X-rays at the Combine revealed pieces of bone floating near the injury. It "spooked" a few teams, according to Lynch, but he isn't concerned.

"I didn't miss a game or a practice or a single throw because of it, and none of those injuries bother me today," Lynch said. "I'm 100 percent, so I was more than willing to do what they need me to do."

Although Wentz and Goff are widely mentioned as the top two quarterback prospects, Lynch seems unfazed by that and looks forward to throwing alongside the other passers on Saturday.

"There's always something there to put a chip on your shoulder and drive yourself to work even harder," Lynch said. "That's how it's been for me since I came out of high school.

"I'm going to approach it like I always have. I'm just going to keep my head down, worry about myself and go to work."

4. Noah Spence continues his path to redemption.

Since leaving Ohio State, Eastern Kentucky pass rusher Noah Spence has been working hard to rebuild his life and his draft stock as a NFL prospect. He performed well on the field at the Senior Bowl, but he also interviewed well.

And Spence continued his path to redemption on Friday at the Combine, saying teams won't have to worry about him off the field.

"I feel like everything is done and it's out in the open," Spence said. "Honestly, it was more me going to parties and stuff like that. It was never really an addiction."

Spence added that he spends a lot of time either by himself or with his girlfriend, avoiding parties or the wrong crowd.

"There's a group of people I can't hang with," Spence said. "I have to be more myself and stay away from the party scene."

On the field, Spence is a top-10 pick, but he understands that while he is a productive pass rusher due to his athletic gifts, he has room to improve in other areas for the next level.

"I think I can get better with my run-stopping abilities and playing within the framework of the defense."

5. Nkemdiche had a lot to say at the podium on Friday.

Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche covered several areas during his Combine media interview, including his on-field play and off-field issues.

On one hand, Nkemdiche was accountable for his mistakes, using words like "uncharacteristic" and "embarrassing" to describe the night in December he was arrested for drug possession. However, on the other hand, Nkemdiche made a few interesting comments that drew more attention to him and the situation, admitting he was "drunk" but claiming he wasn't under the influence of marijuana.

Then why was he charged with drug possession?

"The hotel was under my name, nobody wanted to take the fall," Nkemdiche said. "It had to go under my name. It just happened to play out like that."

Nkemdiche said he has been trying to convince NFL teams that he isn't a character risk and that the people who know him understand that's not who he is. He blamed the media as a reason behind the negative scrutiny that he faces right now.

"The media's done a tarnish to my name," Nkemdiche said, "but I've just got to make them understand me as a person."

Nkemdiche also revealed that teammate Laremy Tunsil, the favorite to be drafted No. 1 overall, was with him that night in the hotel, confirming the rumors. While this news was going to become public eventually, it's a surprise that Nkemdiche didn't think to protect his teammate and keep that to himself.

--Dane Brugler is senior analyst of NFLDraftScout.com, owned and distributed by The Sports Xchange, in cooperation with CBSSports.com.

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