INDIANAPOLIS – David Thornton was a fourth-round choice of the Colts in 2002, thus a decade ago he was going through the combine process.
Thornton met with a few clubs during the combine's interview process, and he peeked into the room where the Colts were conducting their business.
He saw only Tony Dungy in the room, so he went in and introduced himself. Weeks later, he was a Colt. While there may not have been a direct correlation between that moment and his selection, Thornton took the initiative to make an impression on a decision-maker.
Current Colts Pat Angerer, A.Q. Shipley and Dwayne Allen all went through the combine before entering the NFL.
In remembering the rigors and stress of their combine weeks, all three are proponents of the interview windows provided to players.
While some teams might debate the value of such sessions, it is a valuable component for the Colts.
"I only had three or four official meetings, but I probably talked to about 10 other teams," said Angerer. "It was cool. You could be yourself. Coaches are pretty good guys. It wasn't hard.
"I had to draw up defenses I had played in. You drew formations and things like that. I think guys should be themselves and be honest. The teams know who you are. Just play your own game."
Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson says the interview availabilities are under-rated in terms of importance.
Grigson says the key is to strip away all formality and posturing and to use the time slots to get to know an individual. He calls this "the ultimate job interview."
"I interviewed with a lot of teams. It's a long day," said Shipley. "You're up at 5:30 a.m. for testing. You're rolling the rest of the day, all the way up to interviews from like 7 p.m. until midnight. Then, you're back at it the next morning.
"A lot of people made an impact on me (in the interviews), but they're so quick. The interviews are 15 minutes and you're onto the next one. It's interesting the way they do it. Some teams will show you your good plays. Some will show you the worst of the worst plays and say, 'Is this what we're going to get from you?' That kind of stuff. It's a lot of head games. It's a lot of seeing how you're going to react to criticism. It's a lot of fun. Just be yourself, that's the key."
Allen came to the combine as one of the top tight end prospects. The Mackey Award winner was sure to meet a number of coaches and personnel people, so he just approached the process by being at ease.
"Just being myself worked best. A lot of people liked me because of the guy I am," said Allen. "It wasn't like I had to go in there and put a mask on. I didn't want them to draft one guy and another guy show up at camp. That's what I didn't want.
"I think I went on 23 interviews. In every interview I let them know my faults. They were able to see the real me. I think being an open book is the best way. They're able to see what you're about. Your job is to get one team to like you. If you can't get one team to like you, so be it. The interviews definitely were the most value thing for me at the combine."
Selecting players is not a science. There is not a time-test formula on which to rely. Scouting is a year-round proposition and fact-finding is done on campus, at the combine and in any method possible.
The draft is the life-line for a team's long-term health. Attracting the right players is critical.
"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," said Grigson.