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Short Interviews Still Thorough

Posted Feb 21, 2013

The interview process at the NFL Scouting Combine is comprehensive, to say the least.

INDIANAPOLIS -- If a player for the Scouting Combine didn't talk to a specific team he wanted to meet on Wednesday night, he need not fret. He'll probably talk to them at some point Thursday evening.

The interviews here are more than just the formal ones where a prospect is herded into a conference room to face a battery of coaches, scouts and executives from a single team -- a group that, for some clubs, has been known to include the team's owner. There are informal ones, where a representative of a club comes up to a player, taps him on the shoulder and walks him to a table.

It's a process that Ohio State offensive lineman Reid Fragel likened to speed dating. And for some players, it's not the first time they've been through this, as the interview process at last month's Senior Bowl was restructured to carve out time for teams to grab players and get to know them in a quick-hit setting.

The short interviews remain as comprehensive as ever.

"Yeah, they're bringing up stuff from seventh grade, and you're like, 'I don't remember seventh grade. What happened?'" Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray said. "They know pretty much everything."

But some teams don't reveal as much, which in turn, leaves the players speculating as to which team holds them in the highest esteem.

"You can definitely tell," Fragel said. "Everybody asks you the same credentials. Name, where you’re from, all that stuff. Then there are other teams that know that stuff already about you and are asking more in-depth questions -- really digging to find out who you are as a person. I think those are interesting meetings."

Of course, as myriad prospects have learned over the years, sometimes the team with the most interest is the one that barely interviews you at all -- which was the case for Broncos defensive lineman Derek Wolfe last year, who admitted "kind of a shock" when the Broncos called him on the second night of the draft, since the two sides had barely spoken in the pre-draft process.

The Broncos knew what they had in Wolfe even without an extended conversation, and that was in part due to the rest of the combine. Beyond the actual interviews are the metaphorical ones -- the medical examinations, the bench press, the squat, the position drills and the sprinting and cutting that takes place on the field.  

Imagine your toughest, most rigorous job interview -- one that basically resembles a courtroom cross-examination at times. Then stretch it out from the typical length of an hour or less to five days, of which the actual interviews with teams might be the easiest part. That's the combine.

"It really is a job interview for us. It’s not quite like a gameday performance because it’s five days long," Wisconsin offensive lineman Travis Frederick said. "Everything you do is watched and evaluated. It’s kind of a five-day continual job interview."