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Preparing for the Combine

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Since the NFL combine is only a few days away, I can't help but think what goes into the war-room thought process behind choosing players. There is no doubt a ton of talent, but there is such a wide spectrum of talented players. Some players consistently make the ESPN top 10 plays on raw talent alone, while others have fought their way to the top through years of sweat and fighting. So what players are genuinely willing to make that effort at the next level and succeed?

One trend I have noticed is that players entering the draft seem to excel when they have the fortune of having relatives who were already in the league.  Howie Long's son Chris had a decent rookie year and looks to be a solid draft pick for the future.  Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a stellar rookie year for the Cardinals, and he has looked up to his cousin, Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie. The Rolle family has consistently flourished in the bigs. Of course the Manning family is the other notable. It just seems when the player has family in the NFL, they are better prepared physically and mentally for everything that comes with it.

ESPN recently posted a video of Matt Stafford practicing for the interview process with the Rams 2008 QB coach.

You try to evaluate competitive spirit and the quick-mindedness of a Quarterback.

I have to give a lot of interviews for my current employer (IT), and in regards to personality testing, I think a lot of similarities apply. For one, I ask what they know best. Then I hit them with questions to test their knowledge on it. I will not stop the questions until I know I have asked a question they do not know the answer to. This is a key moment since you know if you have a BS'er on your hands, or someone that admits they don't know the answer but is willing to learn. That leads to the next set of questions. What do they do outside of the field/office to make themselves better? Reading? Personal workouts? This is where I think a player with relatives really helps. Off the field when they are with family they are no doubt talking about football, how to review tape, how to work with coaches to get better, how to handle struggles/conflict that arise with the team. It’s all advice from above. Athletes that don't have this outlet (understandably) kick it with friends and enjoy their new found wealth/status. I understand I'm making a large generalization there, as some athletes have the personal drive to seek out help and get better, but to me it’s a green flag and worth considering.