Since pro day I’ve had three private workouts and have gone on three team visits, and I have like seven more team visits to go on. So starting next week I’ll be on the road until the week before the draft.
I think if anything at this point, not going to the combine might have helped me because I’m getting a lot more face time with coaches and different members of a staff. I’ve got 10 visits, so teams are interested in me. So it’s just kind of funny. If I was at the combine I wouldn’t have had all these meetings. It might actually be a blessing in disguise.
Teams with both defensive styles have contact me for visits — 3-4, the hybrid and even a lot of 4-3. Like I’ve said before, I think playing in the 3-4 and 4-3 has really helped me. I’d say it’s been maybe 6-7 teams who run the 3-4 and the rest 4-3.
The private visits are kind of cool. Either coaches or scouts come in and they run through position drills, similar to what we did at the end of pro day. Some teams kind of want to wear you out. I’m a nose guard, I’m a bigger guy, so some teams wanted to see where I was at conditioning-wise (but I thought it went really well). Then other teams will just run you through drills and get you up on the white board a little bit and see kind of your football IQ. So they’re kind of a combination of on-the-field activity with position drills and also like an interview, talking with the coach or scout and talking football, and maybe watching a little film, too.
I was hoping I was going to get attention, but I didn’t think I’d be getting this much love from different teams. It is actually one reason I didn’t take classes this spring because I thought I’d be traveling. I’m leaving on Monday and will literally be on the road for two weeks straight taking visits. It’s fun, you really have to stay on top of your game. It’s challenging.
I have more visits rolling in daily. It’s a good problem to have. I’ve been flying around a lot, getting some good frequent flier miles. But the visits, they’ve gone really well. They all kind of follow a really similar template. Basically a team will fly you in one night and you’ll go out to dinner with some coaches, some scouts or members of the staff and talk football.
Some teams will get you in the aisle, some in the exit row and some teams will set you up in first class. They cover it all. They cover the hotel, take you out to nice dinners . . . it kind of reminds me of recruiting all over again.
That night is a little more casual. They just want to sit down with you and see what kind of guy you are. Two of them were one-on-one with a coach and the other they brought a couple of people in — it was almost like a recruiting visit.
After that, you wake up early the next day — every time I’ve had to wake up at 5 a.m. — and they’ll pick you up at the hotel and then you go through all the physical and medical testing they did at the combine. You’ll meet an orthopedic doctor who will check out all your joints, your knees — for me, I had ankle surgery, so they definitely want to test out that (I had an MRI on my ankle). Then they’ll X-ray your chest, neck and back. It’s pretty standard. They just want to see that you don’t have any issues they don’t know about. Fortunately, the first visit I was at I was able to get that on DVD so that saved me some time since then. I had an echocardiogram on my heart — you might remember I kind of had a heart condition when I was a freshman. It hasn’t been a problem at all, but teams just want to check that out.
That takes 2-3 hours, then you meet with a general doctor, to check our your overall health, heart rate, blood pressure and go over the list of any illnesses you had. I had mono my sophomore year during winter conditioning, so teams are talking to me about that. It is just a really, really thorough medical evaluation and you have to get cleared — and I’ve been cleared every time, I have no problem.
But the more up front you are, the more transparent you are, the better. Because they pretty much know everything; they get all the information from the school. It is just a tedious process. I’ve basically had the same exact tests done with every team visit. I kind of wish that information was shared amongst teams so I didn’t have to do it 11 times or whatever.
Anyway, after that you head back to their facility, get some lunch and a tour. Then they’ll measure you and get your height, weight, arm length, wingspan and things like that, introduce you to members of the equipment staff and training staff. That takes another hour or two and then the real fun begins.
You sit down with a position coach or, for me, a couple of defensive coaches. You start off telling them about yourself. They’ll ask questions. It is kind of a formal process, pretty serious. And you want to make yourself look good so you really have to think your answers through, just like any job interview.
After some preliminary questions they put some film up of me and run through that and ask what I’ve been coached in the past, talk about the defensive scheme, how your fundamentals and technique have been coached and stuff like that. Then they’ll draw up their defensive scheme and have me regurgitate it back to see my football IQ, how I learn new things and kind of how my brain works in the meeting rooms.
Then it’s more meetings — the scouting guys, player personnel guys, I even met with a couple of GMs from teams and sat down for some pretty serious questions with guys in the draft war room. It’s an intense process and it can be pretty tedious, but it’s cool and fun, too. It’s neat to see the inner workings of an NFL team.
I think one thing that’s helped me, too, is I was in the business school at Madison, so we went over job interview techniques. Because when you get down to it, it’s a job interview. You talk football and there’s some physical attributes to it, but it’s a job interview and you have to portray yourself in a positive light and talk about things you know about, and kind of steer the conversation into certain topics and away from other topics and it’s fun, it’s cool and challenging.
But being in the business school and the kind of culture we have in Madison sets you up for success in interviewing.
One thing I wanted to mention and I kind of talked about this before, but every time I take a visit I appreciate the coaching that we had at UW, the player we had in Madison and the culture that we had. That’s what every team said to me, too. That we’ve been coached really well, have good football IQ and fundamental and good technique. The success of UW and the success of former players really bodes well for future NFL players coming from Madison. I just have so much appreciation for the way we do things here and it just set us up for success. I just want everyone to know that. We have a great program and they’re not as fortunate at other places to have the coaches that we have, the facilities, the staff. Even the NFL recognizes that. That’s pretty great.
I’m really confident that I’ll get drafted. You just never know where. You hear things from different people and I try to tune it out, but at the end of the day I’m confident I’ll get drafted and that’s what it really comes down to. I was talking to Bill Nagy, he’s been around the stadium a little bit, and he said he hadn’t even talk to the Cowboys before they drafted him, so you never really know. But I think the fact that I’ve had so many visits, interest and private workouts really bodes well for me. I’ve interviewed well, so I feel really good about it.