It’s the job interview that out-does all other job interviews.
A week full of intense sit-downs with the who’s-who of professional football. A week packed with athletic drills that make you tired just watching prospects attempt them.
Top it off with sports news media reporting on every move they make.
And while the typical, everyday business manager tends to make an executive decision on hirees within a week or two, these guys won’t know their “hiring status” until April 26.
There’s no denying it. The NFL Scouting Combine is a job interview of eminent proportions.
These NFL hopefuls will want to make an outstanding impression on scouts in order to secure a job for the 2012 football season.
They will, no doubt, be working extra hard to impress onlookers.
And what better time for the football faithful to take a look at who might be drafted onto their home team.
Here’s a look at six players that NFL fans must watch:
If not for his athleticism and impressive stats from Oklahoma State, fans should be watching quarterback Brandon Weeden for his background story.
Leaving baseball to be a walk-on for the OSU Cowboys in 2008, 28-year-old Weeden is coming off an impressive college season with a second-in-the-nation ranking of 4,727 passing yards.
But while his story has certainly garnered him national attention, he’ll still need a strong combine to prove that he’s of the same draft caliber as Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.
In order to show that his age won’t be a factor, Weeden will have to out-perform his opponents in the combine to, hopefully, ensure that he will be the No. 3-ranked quarterback in the first round of the draft.
Fresh out of Texas A&M with a mere 19 starts under his belt, Ryan Tannehill is another prospective quarterback who will have to work crazy hard in the combine to prove that he’s top-rate NFL material.
Sure, being in a draft class with Luck and RGIII is going to make any other QB prospect want to work a little bit harder to earn his stripes. But Tannehill also has to prove that his lack of experience won’t work against him in the pros.
With a strong combine, fans should watch for Tannehill to go in the first round to a team looking to scoop up one or more young quarterbacks.
Although Matt Kalil has been topping mock drafts for months now, you can count on him to still be out to have a stellar combine.
This will give teams an up-close opportunity to view Kalil’s athletic prowess and impressive footwork.
The combine is also the place to show teams that his lack of starts won’t hurt him, but allow him room to grow. He already has a smart style of play, and is known for being good at following his routes.
Kalil is definitely top-10-pick material; fans should expect him to go first round to a team with a young quarterback in need of solid protection.
Maybe it isn’t entirely fair to mark Janoris Jenkins as the problem child of the 2012 draft class.
But it isn’t any secret that his outside-the-stadium shenanigans have overshadowed his on-the-field accomplishments. The North Alabama cornerback was dismissed from the University of Florida, has been arrested on multiple occasions for marijuana possession and has a history of fighting with opposing players.
And yet, the kid still has first-round-caliber playing abilities. His stats improved over the course of this college career, with 53 tackles and two interceptions in 2011. And he’s quick to read plays, with great speed to complement it.
Football fans should watch for Jenkins to show off his fantastic speed, smooth transitioning skills and good ball-handling in order to outshine cornerback-combine competitors Morris Claiborne and Dre Kirkpatrick.
His athletic performance will hopefully have just as much impact on his combine as his—what are sure to be—very interesting scouting interviews.
It would be a lie to say that nobody’s curious as to how RGIII and Luck are going to perform in the combine.
Especially when speculation that RGIII is going to be more impressive in his interviews than during his pro day has been swirling as of late.
Hopefully the Heisman winner will still be fun to watch.
With even the top mock draft kings not knowing which team will scoop him up, all fans should be on the lookout for where RGIII lands.
With the way news around Andrew Luck has circulated this past season, you would think he was already sporting that blue-horseshoe-adorned helmet.
But although Luck might already be Colts-bound, he’ll still have to woo the scouts in the upcoming week. He should still be impressive to watch.
Not to say that a bad combine would necessarily damage his stock so bad that he would be out of a job come April. Other great quarterbacks—such as New England’s Tom Brady and Hall of Famer Dan Marino—have had poor combine performances, but gone on to have successful NFL careers.
Fans will have to look for Luck to stay focused and superior in his play, and take his football playing abilities from the collegiate level to the professional level.