There's a draft prospect at the NFL Scouting Combine from Portland State who is 27 years old - punter Kyle Loomis.
Typically, a punter wouldn't draw a lot of media attention, but Loomis is a special story. After his freshman year at Oregon State, Loomis decided to join a different team. He signed a contract in 2008 with the U.S. Army and served nearly four years with the 2-325 Airborne Infantry Regiment - 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Football wasn't on his mind anymore. But after an ankle injury kept him from combat duty, Loomis attended Portland State on the G.I. Bill. In 2013, he researched online that he still had eligibility and emailed the head coach, Nigel Burton, whom Loomis knew from Oregon State. It turned out that they needed a punter.
"It just clicked out of the gate," Loomis said.
Loomis averaged 46.5 yards per punt in 2013 and 46.0 yards in 2014. He led all of the FCS in punting average in each of those two seasons. And now, Loomis is hoping to earn a spot in the NFL. And he doesn't look at his age as a disadvantage.
"It's kind of a positive. I'm more mature. I've seen a lot of stuff off the field," Loomis said. "There's nothing in the game that's going to screw me up. I think it helps, actually."
-- Chris McPherson, 5:25 PM
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett would love to see "cornerstone players" Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray return to Dallas next season, but the soon-to-be free agents have "a business opportunity."
Murray set a franchise record with 1,845 yards rushing to lead the league in 2014. The question with Murray is how will his body hold up after 392 carries in the regular season and another 44 in the playoffs? That doesn't include his 57 receptions in the regular season.
Garrett defended the usage of Murray by saying that they fed him the ball as much as they did because they believed in him. Murray thrived behind an outstanding offensive line, but Garrett bristled at the notion that any back can have success.
As for Bryant, who has had over 85 catches, 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons, Garrett said that the Cowboys "love" him and want him back.
Multiple reports indicate that if the Cowboys decide to use the franchise tag, it would be on Bryant and not Murray.
-- Chris McPherson, 5:06 PM
During Andy Reid's final year in Philadelphia, Ed Marynowitz was hired as the team's assistant director of pro scouting. Last month, Marynowitz was promoted to the post of vice president of player personnel.
Reid thinks head coach Chip Kelly made a "great choice" and called Marynowitz someone who is "on the rise," which echoes what many have said around the league about the young exec.
-- Chris McPherson, 3:31 PM
La'El Collins is looking to become the first LSU offensive lineman to be selected in the first round since Alan Faneca in 1998.
"It would mean a lot for me to be the first LSU offensive lineman taken in the first round (since 1998), it would be a dream come true," Collins said.
The 6-4, 308-pound Collins said he models his game after Eagles' All-Pro tackle Jason Peters. Teams have discussed with Collins, a second-team All-America and LSU MVP in 2014, the possibility of playing inside in the NFL. Collins played left guard in 2012 and was the Tigers' left tackle last season. He returned to LSU for his senior season despite receiving a good grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board.
Collins is willing to do whatever teams ask of him, but he prefers to play on the outside.
"When you're inside, you're going up against big guys," Collins said. "Guys who are stronger, a little faster. When you're out there on an island, you're going up against fast guys who are long with speed and you have to be able to understand where you're at on the field, the personnel that you're going up against."
- Chris McPherson, 3:17 PM
Marcus Mariota isn't the only quarterback at the NFL Scouting Combine who once played for head coach Chip Kelly.
Bryan Bennett lost the starting job to Mariota at Oregon in 2012. After spending the season as a backup, Bennett decided to transfer to Southeast Louisiana on the recommendation of Hall of Fame quarterback Archie Manning and thrived.
Bennett quickly transitioned and was named the Southland conference Player of the Year in 2013. In his two seasons as a starter, Bennett combined to throw for 5,522 yards, 39 touchdowns and 19 interceptions while completing 55.7 percent of his passes. He also ran for 1,715 yards and 31 touchdowns.
"It gave me an opportunity to play and put tape out there," Bennett said. "I've been able to make it to this stage of the process now."
Bennett performed at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama last month. He briefly spoke to Kelly there. This week, Bennett will be on the same stage as the quarterback who beat him out in Mariota.
"All I'm focused on is what I can control," Bennett said. "How I carry myself, how I test, just the preparation that I've already put in for this and what I'll continue to do while I'm here."
To prepare playing in a pro-style offense, Bennett has worked on taking snaps under center as well as his footwork. Bennett "loved" playing for Kelly at Oregon and in an offense that made him "process and react a little quicker." He would welcome a reunion in the NFL.
-- Chris McPherson, 3:03 PM
A running collection of the latest sights from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where the top college recruits showcase their skills for coaches and scouts.
Washington head coach Jay Gruden told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine that he anticipates Robert Griffin III will be the team's starting quarterback in 2015.
"We ended the season with Robert as the number one guy, obviously, and it's up to Robert to continue to grow and mature as a quarterback and as a person. Moving forward, we just want to see some improvement," Gruden said. "It's up to us as a staff to get more out of him."
Griffin suffered a dislocated ankle in Week 2 and struggled upon his return. He started the final two games of the season and finished the year with a 68.7 completion percentage for 1,694 yards with four touchdowns against six interceptions in nine games (seven starts).
Washington hired Matt Cavanaugh to oversee the team's quarterbacks after the season ended. A former Eagles quarterback, Cavanaugh played in the NFL for 14 years and has 22 years of college experience at the college and pro levels.
Kirk Cousins, who started five games for Washington including the Week 3 game against the Eagles, has worked out with Gruden's brother, Jon, this offseason. Jay Gruden said he did not know of the arrangement in advance.
-- Chris McPherson, 1:30 PM
Could the first two picks in the NFL Draft be used on quarterbacks?
Shortly after Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine that his team has a good idea of who will be selected with the No. 1 pick, the team with the second pick offered some clues as to whom they could pick.
Titans general manager Ruston Webster did not commit to last year's sixth-round pick Zach Mettenberger as being the starting quarterback moving forward. Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked specifically about the quarterback situation and he offered the following.
"We're in a position to get that position settled for us," Whisenhunt said.
In six starts, Mettenberger completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 1,412 yards with eight touchdowns against seven interceptions.
How does this impact the Eagles? If a quarterback goes with each of the top two picks, that pushes a top player at another position closer to the Eagles' spot at No. 20.
-- Chris McPherson, 12:19 PM
All 32 NFL teams will get to see quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston throw this week at the NFL Scouting Combine, but it appears the Tampa Bay Buccaneers already know who they will be taking with the No. 1 overall pick.
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine that they have a favorite and will most likely use the No. 1 pick and not trade it.
"If you have a franchise-caliber player there, it's hard to pass on him," Licht said.
Should you be surprised that the Bucs already know who they want with the top pick? Here's why you shouldn't.
"A lot of mistakes have been made in this league on the so-called fast-risers," Licht said.
-- Chris McPherson, 11:42 AM
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft after posting a 2-14 record last season, the first with Lovie Smith as head coach.
The Buccaneers have already released quarterback Josh McCown, who was signed to be the team's starter in free agency last offseason.
Smith said on Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine that the Bucs are "moving forward" with Mike Glennon as the starting quarterback. Of course, the Bucs could select Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick.
The big question with Mariota is can he run a pro-style offense. With Winston, it's his off-the-field behavior, but Smith noted that he's comfortable making the former Florida State quarterback the face of the franchise.
"I'm looking forward to getting to know not only Jameis but Marcus, too," Smith said.
-- Chris McPherson, 10:42 AM
Our NFL Scouting Combine blog kicks off today and will run through Saturday.
This morning, the offensive linemen, tight ends and specialists will go through weigh-ins and measurements before meeting the media. Today is also a critical day for those players because of the medical examinations that also are scheduled.
Later this evening, the Eagles coaches will begin to have 15-minute, one-on-one interviews with prospects. The video above showcased some of those interviews.
Make sure to stay tuned later on for interviews with prospects and a podcast recapping the day in Indianapolis.
-- Chris McPherson, 9:24 AM