INDIANAPOLIS — The opening questions are easy. How’s it going? Who’s your agent? What’s your draft-day phone number? Any injuries?
But then the position coach, coordinator or head coach takes over. Did you get along with your coach? What scheme did you play in? Any off-the-field hiccups? How often did you audible at the line of scrimmage?
This week during the NFL Scouting Combine, the coaching staff, scouting department and front office of each team will conduct 15-minute interviews with draft-eligible players. And while things like 40-yard dash time, bench-press total and vertical leap are important, it’s the quick interrogation that can get a player on a team’s radar.
For the coaching staffs, the combine is the first significant opportunity to find out about a player’s football IQ and their general personality.
“To be honest, the 40 and those times have never been that big of a deal,” Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy said. “I like the other side of it, especially getting to meet the players and the information you can gather from just seeing how they go about their business.”
Teams will take players off their draft boards because of medical or character issues so honesty during the interview is crucial for a player like Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, who was involved in a bar fight while in college.
“I know I’m going to hear a lot of different questions,” he said. “I’m going to hear things about the different incidents I’ve had outside of nightclubs. I’ll tell them what happened. I know I put myself in a bad situation I shouldn’t have been in and I’ll take full responsibility for it.”
Honesty is a change from 10 to 12 years ago. Before the message boards and camera phones could track the movements of college players after hours, some would try to hide items from their past.
“Where we are with technology, we’re able to get a lot more information about a player, and there’s nothing that can be covered up,” Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “If there is an example of bad decision making, the player is bringing it up and is saying, ‘I did A, B and C, but I’ve learned from it and have moved on from it.’ Ten years ago, you may uncover something the day before the draft and have to do a quick investigation to get the details.”
All teams expect agents to school their players for the interview, but Fisher doesn’t have a problem with that game plan.
“This is a job interview, and it makes sense to prepare for it,” he said.
The combine is the second step of a five-part process for teams, following a meeting at the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine Game. Most prospects have a Pro Day on their campus. Teams then schedule on-campus individual workouts and are also allowed to bring 30 prospects to their headquarters.
Campbell selects the 60-player list (the maximum allowed) and submits it a month before the combine so organizers can create a schedule. Some of the top players will have 25 interviews.View Entire Story
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