Indianapolis will be the center of the football world next week when it hosts the annual NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
More than 300 draft-eligible players will be poked, prodded, drilled and interviewed in preparation for the NFL Draft April 26-28.
Players begin arriving Tuesday and on-field workouts start Friday.
Here are five things to watch for at this year’s Combine:
While head coaches and general managers are not required to speak at the podium, most do.
Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin will speak at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, marking the third year in a row he has done so. And head coach Marvin Lewis will take his turn at 10 a.m. Friday.
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Both Tobin and Lewis are expected to meet separately with local media afterward.
Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin also are expected meet with local reporters.
The full schedule for GMs and head coaches has yet to be released, but Ohio native and University of Dayton graduate Jon Gruden is expected to draw a big crowd in his first year as Oakland Raiders coach after nine seasons in the Monday Night Football booth.
Quarterbacks almost always are the centerpiece of the Combine, and it’s not expected to be any different this year, especially with one of them being charismatic Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, of Oklahoma.
While there is a lot of interest in Mayfield, it’s the other three – USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Wyoming’s Allen – who are expected to begin jockeying to become the No. 1 overall pick, with Mayfield more likely to go at some point later in the round.
The quarterbacks will be the in the second group, which means they will have their media sessions Friday and hold their on-field workouts Saturday.
Some quarterbacks in the past have elected not to throw at the Combine and instead hold their full workout at the pro day, but Mayfield already is on the record saying he “will do everything.”
While there will be some solid options in free agency, the Bengals don’t have a history of spending big in the spring.
There is no greater need than a tackle, and the Bengals could have their pick of them at No. 12, especially if four of the 11 picks ahead of them end up being quarterbacks.
Nearly every mock draft out there has the Bengals not only taking a tackle at 12, but being the first team to take one. Among the top tier guys to keep an eye on when they do their on-field workouts Friday will be Mike McGlinchey ( Notre Dame), Orlando Brown (Oklahoma), Connor Williams (Texas), Tyrell Crosby (Oregon), Kolton Miller (UCLA) and Martinas Rankin (Mississippi State).
In addition to 11 players from Ohio State, there will be two players from Dayton area high schools participating at the combine.
Springboro grad and Iowa offensive lineman Sean Welsh will speak with the media Thursday and do his on-field workouts Friday.
And Trotwood-Madison grad and Michigan linebacker Mike McCray will meet with the media Saturday and do his on-field workouts Sunday.
The nine Buckeyes scheduled to attend are quarterback J.T. Barrett, linebackers Jerome Baker and Chris Worley, defensive linemen Jayln Holmes, Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis, offensive linemen Jamarco Jones and Billy Price, defensive backs Denzel Ward and Damon Webb and tight end Marcus Baugh.
While coaches and scouts intently study every workout, the 40-yard dash is what draws the attention of most fans, and that especially will be true this year after Bengals wide receiver John Ross set the record with a 4.22 last year.
Could the record fall one year later?
It took nine years for someone to break the 4.24 Chris Johnson set in 2008.
The leading candidates to challenge Ross’ record include Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, LSU cornerback Donte Johnson, North Carolina State running back Nyheim Hines, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and Alabama cornerback Tony Brown.