INDIANAPOLIS — Jack Conklin walked to the podium in Indianapolis, glanced down at the surrounding crowd and shook his head in disbelief.

Four years ago, Conklin had only one scholarship offer and was ready to attend prep school. Now the left tackle from Michigan State, who started his college career as an invited walk-on, is one of the most coveted offensive linemen in the nation.

“It’s crazy just to see how far I’ve come,” Conklin said at the NFL scouting combine. “It’s hard to think about to go from being four years ago to have no idea if I was going to be on a Division I team going into the fall. It’s hard to take in how far I’ve come as a person and a player.”

The odds were certainly stacked against Conklin making it this far.

He played for his father, Darren, at a small Michigan high school, where the staff was not well-schooled in the art of selling recruits to college coaches.

The book on Conklin was he was too light and not strong enough to be a college lineman, and his resume supported the notion. He played mostly defensive end and tight end in high school and could lift only 225 pounds on the bench press about 10 times in succession.

His skill set appeared to be better suited to basketball, where he averaged 17.1 points and 10.4 rebounds as a senior, and if he had taken up Wayne State on its scholarship offer, Conklin might have fallen through the cracks in Division II football.

Instead, Conklin bet on himself – just like a surprisingly high number of other big-name players in this year’s draft class.

“It was always a dream,” North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz said of the NFL draft. “I didn’t think that today, this is where I was going to be. I didn’t think like that. It was a goal.”

Wentz was lightly recruited after moving from receiver to quarterback as a high school senior. His only FBS offer came from Central Michigan, so he stayed in his home state and played for a school that has won five straight FCS national titles.

Wentz could be the first quarterback taken in April, but he won’t be the only one with this kind of story.

The only scholarship offers fielded by Connor Cook, Conklin’s college teammate, came from Michigan State, Miami (Ohio) and Akron. He wound starting three years and played on two Big Ten championship teams.

Paxton Lynch drew interest from schools such as Bethune- Cookman, Florida Tech and Florida A&M until he was chosen MVP of the 2011 Central Florida All-Star game. Then Indiana and Florida jumped on board, but his home state Gators only wanted him as a walk-on. So when Lynch got a late offer from Memphis, he took it.

Both Cook and Lynch could be first-round picks in April.

RAVENS: Baltimore isn’t waiting until March 1 to place the franchise tag on kicker Justin Tucker.

Robert Roche, Tucker’s agent, said on Twitter that the team has used the franchise designation after talks this week couldn’t bridge the gap on a long-term contract extension.

The expected result puts Tucker in line to make $4.5 million this year.

LAWSUIT: A federal appeals court affirmed a lower court decision against three retired players who opted out of a $50 million settlement with NFL Films.

NFL Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea, Fred Dryer and Ed White objected to the 2013 settlement of a class-action lawsuit over publicity rights for retired players. The settlement set up a trust fund to help retired players but did not include direct payments to players.