There's a lot riding on the top picks of the NFL draft. Not only can these selections serve as potential starters on the field, they can also be faces of their respective franchises off of it.
Coming to these decisions is more than just an evaluation of statistical measurables, Wonderlic tests and game tape. The decisions are also supported in private interviews sessions.
Once in these interviews, the right questions can make all the difference. However, not all questions are the right ones (as evidenced by Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland asking Dez Bryant if his mother was a prostitute).
Teams and potential players deserve better questions to get their final impressions about players.
With that in mind, here are the questions I would ask an NFL draft prospect if I were a general manager.
This may be an obvious question: Each player making their way to the combine is an elite athlete who has excelled in the upper tiers of college football.
However, I'd like the interviewee to break down their motivations for playing the game and why they want to play in the league.
If I can't notice the enthusiasm and passion of a player in the interview, it will be tough to open the checkbook to bring him to town.
Football teams are like families, and for the sake of family cohesiveness, it's appreciated when players attempt to resolve internal disputes internally.
No need to bring in the media for a scandal-filled drama.
The New York Jets' Greg McElroy showed the dangers of this candor, blasting his teammates and calling them selfish.
In asking this question to potential draftees, it's also a good time to reinforce how the franchise handles its personnel business: personally. Whether through the front office, coaches and players, disputes can be resolved in much less public forums.
It's a pretty simple question: Who are the potential draft selections shooting for production-wise as a professional? A current player? Historical team player?
Nobody aspires to be compared to the 12th-best guy in the league at their respective position, but getting a gauge on how high they see their potential could be helpful in whipping up morale at any team facility.
You don't want players to lie, even when things they may end up saying may not be flattering.
This question should be a good gauge of a player's honesty. Teams like the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars deserve their fair share of scorn not only for the product on the field, but the general feeling of pessimism that surrounds all team decisions.
This understanding can result in two very positive outcomes:
1) A player can hear what they're dealing with and the insurmountable odds of winning without extra support.
2) A team can find players willing to stick with them despite their flaws and will stay through a long rebuilding period.
Particularly in situations where an incumbent player is locked in, this line of questioning of patience should be very applicable.
How long can they stand waiting for a chance to shine? What will they do in the meantime to get ready to go?
Ideally, you will find players who can swallow their pride and put up with a wait like the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers did after his first-round selection in 2005. Stuck behind future Hall of Fame passer Brett Favre, there was little room for Rodgers to shine.
However, since his addition as a starter in 2008, the Packers have been one of the most dominating teams in the league.
How a player reacts to such waiting could weigh heavily on their draft selection.
No player is perfect, and each player should have an area of their game that they want to work on. Hearing how incoming draft picks want to improve could assist in developing a coaching plan for the team.
Some skills can be managed in a franchise's coaching regime, and others may be handled best elsewhere.
Either way, it's good to get a handle on this before draft day.
Everybody comes in with similar lines about how they're working hard going into the draft, from the standouts to the eventual busts. I'm sure JaMarcus Russell had a solid interview with the Oakland Raiders before his disastrous drafting, in which he assured the team of his ability to perform and lead the franchise.
However, this question could help lend insight into whether or not they have been researching these past players, in order to build from their mistakes.
As an example, hopefully top quarterback prospects Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are keeping away from "Sizzurp" in the final stages of draft preparation.
Especially when going for mid-round draft picks, seeing some flexibility in players choosing their position can be considered a major plus (although to be fair, examples like Pat White show it may be best to let guys stick in their own spot).
One of my favorite rookie stories of this year was San Francisco 49ers fullback Bruce Miller. A defensive end at University of Central Florida, he prepared to switch positions before the combine, and that versatility was a major help in his success.
A starter for much of the season, he should continue to be a major factor in the team's strong running game for the next few years.
For many star college players, there may be an inherit difficulty in dealing with one of the biggest parts of the NFL stage: dealing with the untold thousands who spring out seemingly of of nowhere in order to disparage a team's selection in drafting a player.
With that in mind, this question would hopefully draw out responses from players on the difficulties they've faced and the pressure they've been held under.
Given the stakes some players face in SEC media areas, responses to this question could be a helpful springboard in deciding which final player could be grabbed.
(I had to have one silly question to wrap up the interview.)
While the socks of Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III (pictured) may have revealed his answer for this question, there are a lot of different possible reactions to take from a player's answer:
Knowing he didn't have superpowers, Bruce Wayne developed his skills and used his super-bank account to develop specialized gadgets.
If given a prominent place on the team, this player may become too insistent on free-agent signings.
Speedy action, but lacks a maturity seen in other superheroes. The Oakland Raiders may trade several picks for a shot at this guy.
With high draft pick selection comes great responsibility. This guy knows that, and hopefully can rise to the occasion.
Avoid the player at all costs.