20 of our favorite quotes from the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine

INDIANAPOLIS — More than 300 of the nation’s finest college football players descended upon this fare city for the NFL Scouting Combine, and almost all of them did press conferences. So did most of the league’s head coaches and general managers. And you know what that means.

Five straight days of brain-rotting coach speak.

But you throw a microphone in front of that many people for that many days, and someone is bound to accidentally say something interesting. We rounded up some of our favorite soundbites from the week.

North Carolina QB Sam Howell, on the craziest question he’s gotten during team interviews: “Probably the craziest thing I had to do was, I walked into one meeting and I had to shoot basketballs on a mini-hoop. That was probably the craziest thing I’ve had to do so far. … The Eagles, they had you shoot at a mini-hoop. I only made, like, two out of five. So probably not high up on their board right now.”

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell, on whether he follows what’s happening with Aaron Rodgers: “No. Unless he’s leaving. … Is he leaving?”

Jacksonville Jaguars GM Trent Baalke, on his relationship with new coach Doug Pedersen: “He’s the optimist, I’m the pessimist. I like to say he I’m a realist, but what’s a realist? He it’s like a pessimist in hiding. ”

Western Michigan QB Kaleb Eleby, on being a dark horse in the draft: “Funny thing is I actually love horses. I really do. Seriously. When I was young, my granddad, he took me to a racetrack. I was just a little kid and he’d say, ‘What horse?’ I actually chose the horse, No. 4. I remember it like it was yesterday, horse No. 4. I’m just a little kid, horse No. 4, it was yellow, and horse No. 4 ended up winning. From that point on, I fell in love with horses. It’s a beautiful animal.”

Kentucky OL Darian Kinnard: “I needed a way to stay in shape (during the pandemic). I had a vest, and then I had big-ass logs in my backyard, and I was like, ‘Might as well have some fun with it.’ Kinda just went out there and treated it like a tire flip. Just flipping logs, and had a telephone pole too. I would just pick that up and kinda just squat it a little bit here and there. Just staying in shape the best I could.”

Arkansas WR Treylon Burks, on hunting wild hogs with his bare hands: “Been doing it all my life. (It can be dangerous) depending on how you attack it. You have to game plan before you even go out there. Know exactly where they’re going to be. You have to put vests on the dogs to make sure they don’t get hurt. (You knife them) right behind the front arm, front shoulder.”

Liberty QB Malik Willis, on whether he’s QB1: “I think so, but I don’t make those decisions. I hate that for me.”

USC WR Drake London, when asked why he calls himself a big receiver when he’s only 5-foot-11: “Sorry. What now? (London is actually 6-5.)

USC WR Drake London, on whether he was surprised by former teammate Amon-Ra St. Brown’s record-breaking rookie season: “Nah. That’s the Sun God right there. Somebody who’s very, very hard-working, his demeanor and his mentality. Do not surprise me.”

USC CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart on St. Brown: “When Amon-Ra gets his chance, he always goes out there and just shines and balls. It was bound to happen too. I never lost faith in him. He’s one heckuva player.”

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, when the cameras panned to Lions special assistant Chris Spielman playing with his phone during tight ends drills: “See, when you have TJ Hockenson, you can just play Wordle.”

Iowa State QB Brock Purdy, on his conversations with NFL teams: “I had surgery on my hand in high school. I’m from Arizona, we’re paintballing in the desert, and my hand got stuck in a cactus. So I had cactus needles removed from my hand. (Teams) go way back, man. They look at every little thing, they want to know and understand what they’re getting and on their team. … It was a big ol’ cactus, like the needles got in my hand and they broke in my hand. So that night I got put under and had surgery.”

Washington CB Kyler Gordon: “So when I was younger, around like the age of 6, I was doing a bunch of competitions. I would go all over the world, all over the United States, go to nationals, do all types of dance. Jazz, lyrical, contemporary, ballet, hip hop, everything you can really think of. And I feel like that all contributed to my athletic ability. Ballet was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever, ever done to be honest.”

Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson: “First NFL check, I probably have to (get) a Ford Bronco, you know? Get a little car. Affordable, but, you know, good looking. That’s definitely what I’ve got on my mind.” (Sounds like a Lion already)

Oregon OF Kayvon Thibodeaux: “Chess is life, and chess is football, right? You talk about doing your first move. Your first move is setting up your second move, and you’ve got to think your third move ahead, right? When you talk about pass rush, I’m gonna hit you with speed first. I always hit you with speed, speed, speed. And then that’s gonna set up my power moves, and then my power move’s gonna set up my counter. So if you go watch the games – if you watch UCLA, you’ll see me with the flash-dip, that came because I was hitting with speed and I was hitting him with the long-arm. … So just being able to kind of dictate and know it’s a heavyweight match, it’s like a boxer. You’re giving him jab, jab, jab, you want to hit em with the hook – you want to change it up.”

NC State OT Ickey Ekwonu, a possible top-five pick: ”I have a little bit of a musical background. I was in ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘The Aristocrats.’ I was in ‘101 Dalmatians.’ I actually got the lead in ‘101 Dalmatians.’ I was Pongo the Dog, so that was a big step for me.”

Buccanneers coach Bruce Arians, on what it would take for Tampa to trade Tom Brady’s rights: “Five No. 1 (picks). Maybe.”

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, on people who reached out after his promotion: “Yeah, shoot, I’ll tell you the one that was cool — and I had a number of guys reach out to me — was Matthew Stafford. It was the week before the Super Bowl, he’s preparing for the biggest game of his life, and I believe it was his birthday, it was the day he texted me on. But for him to reach out and say, ‘Congrats and it’s well deserved,’ that meant a lot to me. I thought that was pretty special.”

Lions head coach Dan Campbell: “I think that we really finished the back half of the season. We just improved, and those guys believed. They really believed every week, but I think (winning the finale) was a testament to those guys. They kept going. I think if anything, these guys know — and anybody that wants to come into our building, if you want to know what we’re about — we’re about cutting it loose. We’re going to be aggressive, and we don’t cower from anybody. We respect all of our opponents, but we don’t fear any of them. If you want to come to Detroit, you’re going to be gritty and you’re going to be with a bunch of guys that freaking love the game. They’re going to give all their heart and soul, and we’re going to cut it loose. That’s what we’re about, and that’s what they know.”

Texans GM Nick Caserio: “Before we get started on football, I want to take it away from football for a minute and just have some reflection and perspective about some of the things that are going on in the world, some of the things that are happening in eastern Europe. I think it kind of puts some perspective on what we’re doing here. Like, this is important, but it’s really not important. So thoughts and prayers to the people of Ukraine and some of the things that they’re dealing with. I think we kind of lose sight of what goes on in the real world when we’re worried about football and testing and combine and people running. I think it’s appropriate to take a few minutes and reflect on that.”

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