INDIANAPOLIS – There are 32 NFL teams and the schools of thought on what is valuable at the combine and what is not may be five-fold the number of member clubs.
One former Colts head coach was queried on the ability to learn about prospects in the allotted 15-minute window and while he did admit there is value, he also quipped, “I’ve been around my kids for more than 25 years and I can tell you I still don’t know what goes on in their minds.”
Some executives feel players are coached for the moment to such a degree that answers are too canned, almost as if a question were like a quarter going into a juke box and a specific recited answer were cued up.
Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson feels otherwise about the value of meeting with draft eligible players individually.
“I would say the formal interviews we conduct are as important as anything done at the combine,” said Grigson. “Just sitting and listening to a prospect speak and tell you about themselves and also see how they respond to tough questions we may throw their way (is valuable). It’s the ultimate job interview.”
Grigson is aware of the degree to which players are prepped for questions, but he thinks the chance for face time can only benefit prospects as well as to protect the franchise.
“Every year there are whispers of guys that really turned teams off with their demeanor or annoyed clubs with rehearsed answers. We want guys to drop the BS at the door and let us in to who and what they are,” said Grigson. “If they have made mistakes we want them to act like men and own up to it and discuss it because we clearly believe in second chances around here. We just want guys to be real.
“We have developed a strong culture in our locker room in a short time and we want to keep cultivating that with the right human beings who can buy into and live by the Colts motto of, ‘Trust, Loyalty and Respect.’ ”
Grigson feels the interview process is one of the most under-rated exercises of the entire combine. It is something that he takes very seriously, thus he and the staff try to get a real glimpse of each prospect that enters the room.
“Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t,” said Grigson of if he feels he gets everything the club is seeking in each interview. “A lot of times these kids are prepped so extensively before they walk in the door that it can put a wall up in a sense and inhibit us from really getting what we want out of the interview. It is a disservice to us and ultimately the player in the end.
“Our weapon against this is Chuck (Pagano) himself. He has a way of getting kids to open up because he builds a level of trust so quickly with people just due to his genuine nature. It is extremely helpful having him in our corner and engaging each and every player that walks through our door every night.”