Inside an NFL prospect's experience at the combine

Clemson prospect Jayron Kearse shares the key moments from his combine experience. 
Publish date:

Ed. Note: Before he departed for the NFL’s Scouting Combine, we asked Clemson safety Jayron Kearse to share his expectations of the draft season’s most buzzed about prospect gathering. Now having gone through the combine ringer, Kearse details his experience in Indianapolis and shares when he believes he deserves to drafted.

Arriving in Indy for the combine last week felt really good, not only for the opportunity to be there, but to be around all the other great players in college football. It’s a unique situation to bring together such a talented group of guys, trying to obtain the same goals, and go on further to the NFL.

I flew in from the West Coast and, upon arrival, had a mostly free day to hang out and get to know some fellow prospects before getting into the medicals.

The medical part of the combine is definitely unusual. I was pulled into seven different rooms and the doctors there were all doing the same thing—trying to test some past injuries to see what’s hurting and what’s not hurting. They were pulling on body parts, trying to aggravate whatever it is that might be ailing.  I went into three different rooms where they literally checked my shoulder and toe exactly the same way.

Draft prospect honors fallen police officer on combine cleats

Luckily nothing hurt since I played my entire college career without missing games or having major injuries. For me, it was actually comforting to talk to all the medical people. For some guys with serious or nagging injuries, though, I know this was nerve-wracking since they knew they could be red-flagged and not be able to participate in the drills.

Even I had to be mentally tough to get through this part because it can get to you knowing that you have to go from room to room and they’re going to do the same pulling and the same things they just did in the last room.

One element I found rather fascinating was the detail with which they put into the psychological testing. My day of testing started quite early, 7:15 A.M., with the bench press, actually. There was probably an hour or two of downtime before the testing began. I believe there were five tests in total, so we were running from room to room, and some of the tests lasted 45 minutes to an hour.

Everything’s laid out for these tests—you know you’re going to be on a computer for a significant chuck of time. The first one I took was quite long, 297 questions.

The questions varied from things like “If you had $2.00 and here are two different things to buy, which would you choose?” to being asked to rate statements like “I am a confident person” between 1-10 based on if I strongly agree or strongly disagree.

The interview portion of the combine was very successful for me.  I had informal interviews with virtually every team and formal interviews with twelve teams. The formal interviews are indicative of the teams that have a large amount of interest in you, and I was thrilled with the group that chose to speak with me.

People warned me about all the weird questions but I didn’t really get too many. I have a daughter so a lot of people asked if I was still with the mother and if they drafted me who would be coming along. But they mostly wanted me to get on their board and show if I was a smart player and see if I could run their defense.  

A lot of teams simply had me draw up plays. We’d either watch their film or our film from the past year, and they asked me what was going on in this play or take me to the board and have me draw it.

One of the teams I had a formal meeting with was the Denver Broncos, and I was very excited to meet John Elway. He asked me some great questions, some tough ones too, but I was able to easily answer them back. There was a slight intimidation factor with Elway, but I reminded myself that he’s been in the room a thousand times with some high-caliber athletes.  

2016 NFL Mock Draft: Post-combine breakdown of Round 1

Going through the interview process I felt confident—I know I’m a smart football player and I know what I bring to the table. For some reason, a lot of people felt like I was lacking knowledge and not knowing if I’d be able to come in there and describe our defense.  So to be able to give some of them what they maybe weren’t expecting— to get up there and explain our defense quite well—I walked out of that room with a great feeling. I hope they left understanding how well I know football, and on tape thinking I can play it.

In terms of the actual drills, I ran a 4.62 official time in the 40. I was looking to run anywhere the 4.5 range, so I was pretty close. Overall, I was happy with my performance, and showed that I can move well for a tall guy and attack the ball.

At this point I don’t know where I might land.  I’m hoping to go anywhere from a late Day 1 to a Day 2 pick. Hopefully I hear my name called between Rounds 1-3. If I don’t, I’ll just have to go out and show why I should have been drafted earlier. I’m truly just excited for the possibility of getting drafted by one of these teams.