The NFL Scouting Combine is here. Players will be tested on what they have been preparing for months for. From speed and strength training to preparing for interviews, players are ready to put their preparation to the test.
More than 300 NFL hopefuls will be poked, prodded and tested perhaps more than any other job applicant at the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis this week.One result can make all the difference.
A slower-than-expected time in the 40-yard dash can see a prospect (Maurice Clarett, Tom Brady) tumble in the draft. An impressive all-around performance can help a player (Mike Mamula) rocket up the board.
Millions of dollars are at stake and even careers. Some players won’t get a call on draft day. Others will have to pursue their dream in the CFL or Arena League.
That’s why college players across the country spend weeks preparing for the combine at training centers such as TEST Parisi Football Academy.
“The experience is something I can’t explain,” said LSU wide receiver Kadron Boone, who only saw snow once in his life before spending the past two months in New Jersey.
Kevin Dunn, the CEO and owner, and his staff put players through a rigorous program, working on improving their speed, strength, agility, quickness and much more.
Joe Flacco, Patrick Peterson, DeMario Davis and other NFL stars trained here. Boone, Notre Dame linebacker Carlo Calabrese and Rutgers wide receiver-safety Jeremy Deering are among dozens of players who worked out with Dunn, hoping to make it in the NFL and get their banner on the wall at TEST Sports Clubs.
How much emphasis do NFL organizations put on a player’s combine results? It varies, depending on a team’s draft philosophy and needs.
Veteran players consider the combine a measuring stick; not a defining end-all.
There’s more to it than running a fast 40, high reps in the 225-pound bench press or strong numbers in the vertical jump.
The mental aspect of testing plays an important role in determining whether a team wants to take a player in the first round or lower, or even at all.
Players must impress general managers in interviews, score well in the intelligence test and attempt to prove they won’t be a troublemaker on and off the field.
Don Yaeger, owner and president of 180 Communications, started a program six years ago that helps players prepare for interviews, how to deal with the media and handle social media. Yaeger and his team have worked with athletes at EXOS (formerly Athletes Performance) for several years. They’ve also helped the University of Michigan, Atlanta Braves and Buffalo Bills.
Elton Gumbel, the company’s director of multimedia, flew to Los Angeles to personally work with Jordan last year.
At TEST, Dr. Robert Price prepares players for everything from the Wonderlic test to mental skills. He meets twice with players in a group and three times in individual sessions during the program.
“This whole process is a crash course,” Price said.
Boston College tight end Mike Naples made sure to get himself ready for every aspect of the combine on the advice of good friend and former teammate Luke Kuechly, the Carolina Panthers linebacker and 2013 AP Defensive Player of the Year.
“If a team is deciding between you and another player and they decide to interview both of you, you want that to become a positive thing for you, not a negative,” Naples said.
SOURCE: Associated Press