INDIANAPOLIS – Fullbacks don't generally get the big podium treatment for their media interviews at the Scouting Combine. Usually, the blockers looking to make their way into a world of professional football that's seemingly phasing out their services are relegated to small tables with minimal reporter interest.
But thanks to his famous last name and hard-partying older brother, Patriots All-Pro Rob Gronkowski, Kansas State fullback Glenn Gronkowskiwas not only put behind a podium that's generally reserved for star quarterback and marque playmakers, but also peppered with questions from a large media gathering for more than 10 full minutes.
Having a notable last name or growing up in the shadow of older siblings could be seen as a burden for some, especially when that name creates its own preconceptions. But Glenn Gronkowski doesn't see it that way.
"Growing up you learn so many lessons from them," Gronkowski said at his Combine meeting with the media. "Just being young and watching them go through all that hard work, all that preparation it just makes a huge impact on you when you are little like that. Seeing it first hand and being able to learn from that and to know what you have to do to make it.
"I don't mind it at all. All my brothers, they deserve all the respect they get from everybody. I've seen all the hard work they put in first hand. The deserve everything they got. I love being a part of the family and all that. I can't complain about it."
The youngest Gronkowski -- who's never actually gotten the chance to play with any of his brothers at any level and admitted it would be a dream come true to land in New England -- acknowledged that he gets a lot of questions about Rob's personality and lifestyle.
"He's crazy obviously," he said. "He loves to have fun. But I'm probably not as much fun as him. That's kind of hard to beat. But I think it definitely comes with the family. It's fun, though."
Gronkowski has also been asked a lot in recent days about his brother's party cruise that took place last weekend and has gotten a ton of attention for a variety of reasons.
"I was not on the cruise, unfortunately. I've seen some pretty fun videos," Gronkowski said with a smile. "I've actually be asked about the cruise about 50 times since I've gotten here. By everybody."
The fullback did a nice job staying out of the fray of discussion in various media outlets as to whether his partying brother is treated with a double-standard in terms of his lifestyle. Those debates miss the fact that the best tight end in the game has never had an off-field issue and produces on the field like almost no other in the game today under the confines of Bill Belichick's non-nonsense program in New England.
"I don't even know what that means," Gronkowski responded with a perfect response. "I have no idea."
While the "Little Gronk" harbors no resentment for his name or his brother's shadow that he lives in, the fullback is clear that he wants to make a name for himself this week in Indy and moving forward into his NFL career.
"That's the goal. I obviously want to come out here and do the best I can in everything," Gronkowski concluded. "Hopefully make a team. Hopefully help a team win. Show what I can do and become my own player."
Down deep, he'll always be a true Gronkowski at heart. And proud to be one.
All hands on deck
Hand size can be a true issue for quarterbacks. Passers with smaller hands can struggle to throw or hold onto the ball in poor weather conditions. No one really questions that fact.
But what has been questioned significantly at the Combine this week is the way hand sized is measured on quarterbacks and whether those measurements have any relevance as opposed to simply watching a passer's game tape and throwing functionality.
Cal quarterbackJared Goff was at the center of the hand-size story on Thursday. The Bears passer is vying to be the top quarterback taken this April, but after his hands measure at 9 inches on Wednesday his scouting report now includes him having supposedly small hands.
"I've been told I have pretty big hands my whole life. I heard I have small hands yesterday apparently," Goff said, seemingly amused. "Naw, I've never had a problem with that or expect it to be a problem at all.
"I've played football my whole life and never had any problem with that."
Not all personnel men take the hand measurements seriously, either.
"There are some measurements that I think are accurate and there are some measurements that sometimes aren't. It's amazing the change in hand size from one event to another," Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said. "The way it's measured is a little odd. If you can't extend your thumb or pinky you end up with a small hand but you might not have a small hand. It's a little bit useless of a measurement. When you shake a guy's hand you know whether he's got a big hand or not."
As for being a quarterback from the state of California and the potential for difficulty dealing with bad weather, Goff brought up some pretty good NFL passers to defend his potential.
"But you've seen quarterbacks from California do it over and over again, I mean [Tom] Brady plays at New England, Aaron [Rodgers] plays in Green Bay, Carson Palmer played in Cincinnati for forever, so it's been done before," Goff said.
A number of NFL personnel men took time at the podium Thursday to recognize that it was the 30th year the Combine has taken place in Indianapolis. Among them was Ryan Grigson, GM of the hometown Colts.
"I just want to first thank the city of Indianapolis, all the Colts fans, all the NFL fans, that make this such a great event," Grigson said. "Every year this thing is growing beyond belief. I remember my entry-level job as a scout in the old Dome turning the lights on at 6 a.m. every morning and the week prior folding socks and T-shirts with one of the pioneers, Duke Baab, at the combine. This is the 30th year. It has become quite an event."
Aguayo kicking it up a notch
It's not often that kickers leave college early. Then again it's not often than kickers are projected to go early in the draft, perhaps even in the first round.
Florida State's Roberto Aguayo is the best prospect at his position since fellow Seminole Sebastian Janikowski went to the Raiders in the first round in 2000.
"I felt it was the right time. I graduated, I got my degree. I won a national championship. I won the Lou Groza Award. I had a great four years at Florida State and sitting down with Coach [Jimbo] Fisher and my family and talking it over, it was the right time to go," said Aguayo, who most experts have tabbed to go in the second or third round.
So does he think the time is right for another kicker to be selected in the first round?
"Maybe it is. You never know," he said. "There's been a couple of guys drafted in the first round recently, Janikowski. It's been done. You never know, it could be done again. I'm just controlling what I can control and that's being the best I can be and at the end of the day it's up to the teams to choose."
The new PAT rules instituted last year have placed a higher premium on kickers. Teams were victimized all across the league by missed extra points, and having a steady presence at the position is something many teams are searching for.
But one thing Aguayo believes will be easier coming from the college game to the pros is field goals. Kicking from the tighter hash marks is something he's looking forward to.
"To me field goals, it's easier. The hashes are closer," Aguayo said. "Growing up I always thought, wow, NFL is much easier than high school, let alone college. Kickoffs are out the back. There's not that much placement, not that much hang time putting it on the goal line, trying to cover. Kickoffs are usually kicking it out and trying to force things to start on the 20-yard line."
While the Patriots won't likely be interested with Stephen Gostkowski one of the best in the game, there should be plenty of teams lining up for Aguayo's services.
Matt Patricia 'will be a head coach shortly'
Cleveland executive vice president Sashi Brown is clearly very happy with his decision to hire former Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson as the Browns new head coach.
But before he made that hire, Brown interviewed rising star Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia for the open job.
And Brown walked away from that interview very impressed with Belichick's bearded understudy and believing that Patricia will be a leading his own NFL team in the very near future.
What exactly was Brown's impression of Patricia?
"Very good one. Matt's a talented young coach," Brown said Thursday morning at his Combine press conference. "Passionate. Relates well to players, similar to Hue. Very innovative in his approach. Tough. Holds players accountable. Comes out of a tremendous system with unparalleled success, really, in New England under [Bill] Belichick and the Krafts. So for all those reasons, his experience in a successful organization, his ability to relate to players, his toughness, his accountability and intelligence – raw intelligence is off the charts – I think Matt will be a head coach here shortly in the league. We thought Hue was the right coach for us, but he was an impressive young man and glad we interviewed him."
The* Boston Herald* reported out of Indy, citing numerous sources, that the Patriots have "have yet to engage in discussions" with key players on potential contract extensions. That includes linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins as well as defensive end Chandler Jones, all of whom are currently scheduled to be free agents after next season. The Herald reports New England has also yet to contact players who might be in line for potential pay cuts, restructures or releases. … The Herald reported on Wednesday that Julian Edelman is recovering well from the Jones fracture that forced him out of action for the second half of the regular season and that he has not needed a second surgery on the foot. A day later the Providence Journal reported that the receiver, who returned for the postseason but was left limping after the AFC Championship Game loss in Denver, was unsure if he would need a second procedure on the injury. "I don't even know yet. We're just taking it day to day," Edelman told the ProJo.