One critical piece of the Combine pie that gets very little exposure is the player interview process.
In the past, the interviews teams get with players have only earned attention when something bizarre occurs -- like last year when the Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland asked then-Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant about his mother's ... uhhh... profession.
In reality, however, this is an integral part of the Combine.
Teams are attempting to learn through a 15 minute interview if the young man sitting opposite them is one of the rare individuals who will actually work harder after signing a multi-million dollar contract.
When I visited Athletes Performance for an article two years ago on the process high-ranking athletes go through in Combine preparation, everyone there was willing to talk about the revolutionary techniques in exercise, nutrition and rehabilitation. Few, however, talk about the significant coaching that players go through to prepare for interviews.
Based on polling various scouts throughout the league, here are 15 high profile players who have as much riding on their interviews with teams as they do the other more hyped components of the Combine.
Players are listed alphabetically.
- Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
- Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
- Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
- Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
- Greg Little, WR, North Carolina
- Jake Locker, QB, Washington
- Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
- Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
- Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
- Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
- Tyron Smith, OT, USC
- Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
- Titus Young, WR, Boise State