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Ella on the Scene: Sibling rivalry at the NFL Scouting Combine?

USC's Tuli Tuipulotu, brother of Eagles defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu
USC's Tuli Tuipulotu, brother of Eagles defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu

INDIANAPOLIS – It's Day 2 from the NFL Scouting Combine, and it's finally time to begin meeting some prospects. On-field workouts are still a day away, but the Indiana Convention Center is buzzing. I'll take you through my day as Fran Duffy and I tackle a busy week in Indianapolis.

8 AM – Defensive line and linebacker prospects met with the media. Over 60 prospects were split into eight groups that rotated through the podiums until 11 AM.

In the first session, USC edge prospect Tuli Tuipulotu took the podium. He is the younger brother of Eagles defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu who was drafted by Philadelphia in 2021. Marlon told Tuli to just be himself.

"The main thing is just the mental part of the league," Tuli said. "A lot of people think it's just physical, but mental plays a big part of the league and he's just told me to prepare myself for it."

The younger brother story continued. Nick Herbig, a linebacker from Wisconsin, is the younger brother to former Eagles offensive guard Nate Herbig. Nate was signed by the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He had 12 starts in 2020 in place of an injured Brandon Brooks. He was waived last May and signed with the Jets.

Nick shared his pride for Nate.

"I think that was probably the top-one moment of my life, the first time I got to watch my brother play and run out of the tunnel," Nick said. "It brought tears to my eyes. And I think I'll cherish that moment forever, for the rest of my life."

He also reflected on the lessons Nate has taught him, having made it to the NFL.

"I learned that you can't just wake up and expect things to just fall into place for you. You kind of gotta work for it. You gotta put your head down and you say, 'I'm gonna go do something.' Nothing in this world comes free. Especially in this game, in this business that we're in. You're gonna have to work for every single play, every single snap, every single win. Just learning that from him has helped me tremendously."

The upcoming draft is a big one for Georgia; 12 Bulldogs were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, the second most behind Alabama. The Eagles' 2022 draft featured two players selected from the powerhouse program: defensive tackle Jordan Davis (first round) and linebacker Nakobe Dean (third round).

Edge rusher Nolan Smith held an impressive press conference. He mentioned his former roommate, Dean, so I asked if Dean has given him any advice ahead of the draft process. He said he called Dean and asked a few questions.

"Nakobe helps me out a lot," Smith said. "That's my guy. That's my middle linebacker. We see eye-to-eye on a lot of things because we made a lot of the same calls in the box."

Smith said they had a special connection and he misses playing together.

Georgia outside linebacker Robert Beal Jr. also spoke during the morning media session. I asked him about playing on a defense with Jordan Davis in college. He smiled big.

"I remember when JD first came to college. He was a different type of player and over the years he just kept getting better and better. And I can't be more proud of him," Beal said. "I just love to be around him."

2:15 PM – Former Eagles Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen, who was recently named the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, spoke to the media.

"There's a lot of good things to say about Philadelphia," Steichen reflected. "The organization was phenomenal, a first-class organization – the way they ran the operations, and the camaraderie within the staff and the team and the players and how we built that culture there with Nick (Sirianni) leading the charge, I thought was phenomenal. When you get the buy-in from everybody, that's when teams can become special."

Steichen, unprompted, mentioned Jalen Hurts' work ethic, saying, "that's what it looks like." He talked about Hurts' early mornings and late nights – first one in, last one out. "You want to play in this league for a long time and be successful? You gotta have that mindset every single day that I'm gonna give everything I got and be the best I can."

3:15 PM – It's podcast time! Fran and I recorded our first Combine edition of the Journey to the Draft Podcast. We will have a new episode every day from Indianapolis. We recapped our biggest takeaways from Sirianni's and Howie Roseman's press conferences, as well as discussed the defensive linemen and linebacker prospects we enjoyed hearing from today.

That'll do it from Day 2 in Indianapolis. Tonight, I will have my first St. Elmo Steakhouse experience – apparently, it's a Combine Week staple. I will then prepare and organize my notes for what's set to be our longest day of the week so far: defensive backs will speak to the media in the morning before defensive linemen and linebackers start the show at Lucas Oil Stadium in the afternoon. We will have you covered every step of the way.

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